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Warning: Adding on to Your Building May Not Be Possible


What you should know before expanding your commercial business space

Many of our clients begin their business expansion quest by attempting to add on to their existing building rather than moving their operation, and most of the time they’re able to move ahead without any problems.  Expanding their existing space to make more room for additional manpower or machinery could be more affordable than building new or renovating another building.  However, there are times when it’s just not possible to expand where they want or at all.  Below we discuss the possible caveats to consider when expanding and to consider for the future when selecting a site.

Setbacks & Zoning

Each municipality is different in their requirements and the type of business, whether it’s a commercial office, retail or a manufacturing company can make a difference to setback and zoning provisions.  Each municipality sets how close you can be to curbs or property lines, which will determine where a building expansion can be on a business’ property, if allowed at all.  An architect or design-builder can help you identify zoning and setback requirements to help you make educated decisions.


The location of existing utility lines on a property can also restrict where construction can occur on a site.  In most every case, a building can’t be built over a utility line, so it may be cost prohibitive to relocate utility lines that can’t be built over.  It depends on the desire and budget of the client.


Also, depending on the type of business, many times, the municipality will require additional parking spaces if the business is adding staff (or at least not lose any spaces), which can limit the size or location of an addition should a business owner intend to build on his or her parking lot.  An architect or design-build company can help determine the parking lot requirements of the municipality and the location and layout of the addition.


The final consideration isn’t prohibitive in a regulatory sense, but depending on the age of the existing building or the materials that were used, it may be difficult or impossible to match the aesthetic of the new construction to the existing building.  This is simply because the exact material or color may no longer be in existence.  To some, a complimentary look will satisfy them, however, others want it to match exactly.  This is fine if the budget includes the cost of a full exterior remodel.

In Conclusion

Wolgast, as your design professional and contractor, will work with your local government to ensure that all codes and regulations are met and discuss alternatives with your municipality to the fullest extent possible to help you accomplish what you’d like to do with your business.  Please share with us any questions you may have about expanding your building.