Some home builders have discovered a way around the dwindling in-fill parcels and scarce land supply plaguing many markets today.
Some home builders have discovered a way around the dwindling in-fill parcels and scarce land supply plaguing many markets today. The answer is hiding in plain sight: Adaptive reuse.
While these projects often come with sustainability benefits by way of repurposing older structures, home builders like T.R. Moser of Moser Construction Management of Berwyn, Pennsylvania see the practice foremost as a viable development alternative, as other home building options narrow within in-demand neighborhoods.
Recently, Moser christened his first adaptive reuse project—a four-unit condominium community called Forrest Walk. The building, a stone Gothic Revival parish school built in 1925, is located just outside of Philadelphia in the Narberth borough. Moser describes his maiden voyage into adaptive reuse as “a great success. We sold all four condo flats. The new owners love it.”
Moser has these tips for any residential developer, home builder or home remodeler thinking about diversifying their portfolio with adaptive reuse projects:
- Come to Learn. “The biggest learning curve for me was soundproofing. It was a big challenge balancing that with fire code compliance. You don’t want to hear the neighbors upstairs. We had 12-foot ceilings that let us do some creative box ceilings and box beams. That allowed us space to soundproof.”
- Turn Neighbors into Fans. “We needed higher unit density to make the project work financially. Fortunately, the neighbors understood that. So they made sure city leaders did, too. You don’t usually see that kind of pro-active neighborhood support in borough or city meetings.”
- Trust the Marvin Name. “We had to go through a conditional use hearing and discuss the façade, including our plans for the windows. There are three architects on the review panel. When they heard we were using Marvin Elevate Double Hung windows, they said ‘Let’s move on to the next item.’ I didn’t even have to show a window sample.”
- Lead with Quality. “We wanted to limit unit maintenance. We knew the building’s masonry and steel frame wasn’t going anywhere. The same with Marvin Ultrex® fiberglass material. For buyers, the double hung windows are one of those items that make a quality statement.”
- Embrace the Aesthetic. “Early photographs of the school displayed double hung windows with mullions. Years later, church officials replaced them with single large-pane windows. To restore the aesthetic, we ordered Elevate Double Hung windows with simulated mullions. The windows look like they’ve always been there.”
Moser is delighted by the outcome. “I’m really happy with the way it turned out. I learned a lot. The community was great. I’m ready for the next one.”
Photography: Don Pearse.