Weird new idea for making old buildings usable.

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stumpjumper
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Weird new idea for making old buildings usable.

#1 Post by stumpjumper » Sun Nov 04, 2007 8:33 pm

There are a lot of old buildings around where I hang out during the day - the Hindley Street area - the upper floors of which are empty except for pigeon shit etc.

Typically, these buildings are late 19th or early 20th century buildings of maybe 4 -6 floors. The only internal staircase is often timber, and the upper floors cannot be let because of the BCA's fire regs, most often the requirement to be within a certain distance of a safe egress.

Some of the buildings have had modern lifts and enclosed fire resistant stairwells and doors etc fiotted, but for some buildings this expense is too big a leap considering the ultimate site value, or the low increase on present returns for the large extra investment involved.

Happily, there are also lots of little blind laneways all over this precinct. The solution? Lease a 3m x 3m square at the end of each laneway (a lot of the lanes are leased, sublet and cross-leased to the eyeballs anyway), and install a 3m diam vertical concrete pipe at the end of each lane, cap the pipes and put fans on top to pressurise the interior a bit against smoke, put a steel or concrete closed step spiral stair inside and fit out with fire doors to each of the formerly unlettable floors of the old buildings.

Result? A network of safe fire exits all over the place, and lots of tenants. You could even paint them bright red (the concrete tubes). Suddenly, all the upper floors of those old buildings would be desirable and lettable. If the decision were made to demolish one of these buildings at some stage (as some of the buildings are much under the potential height for the site) the building owner wouldn't be losing much in the extra investment on the pipes.

I've christened the tubes 'safety stumps'.

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Re: Weird new idea for making old buildings usable.

#2 Post by metalMONSTER » Sun Nov 04, 2007 8:48 pm

Sounds like a stupid idea. This still would not meet BCA reqirements for other areas such as Section J, Section E and Section D. Good luck with the idea though

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Re: Weird new idea for making old buildings usable.

#3 Post by stumpjumper » Mon Nov 05, 2007 7:07 am

Of course the idea could do with some tweaking.

Last time I post after a big day doing the Clare wineries... :roll:

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Re: Weird new idea for making old buildings usable.

#4 Post by omada » Mon Nov 05, 2007 3:46 pm

Are you telling me alot of those elegant old buildings on Hindley Street aren't used? Amazing..

I would think that they would be good opportunities for bars, clubs etc.. surely the expense to refit these buildings is justified considering the commercial rental rates that could be gained..

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Re: Weird new idea for making old buildings usable.

#5 Post by rogue » Mon Nov 05, 2007 7:24 pm

One word....... Asbestos. Just like the building at the corner of KW and Currie above the Adelaide Metro InfoCentre. All empty.

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Re: Weird new idea for making old buildings usable.

#6 Post by Bulldozer » Mon Nov 05, 2007 11:39 pm

Hah, a friend from high school lived in a place on Hindley Street when he was going to Adelaide Uni. This was about five years ago. Dirt cheap rent because apparently the landlord said he shouldn't be renting it out as it was such an old and decrepid building. My rather rotund friend discovered why when he fell through the floor into a basement that had been boarded up and untouched for decades. Apparently the landlord didn't know it existed.

Mind you, the same thing happened when work moved into a shiny new renovated office on Pulteney Street. The 2nd storey of this building hadn't been used for decades as well... although I think the rear section had been a pool hall. As a result of all the grime on the floor and stuff, the top of the floorboards had rotted. It was sanded back and then varnished, etc. The first day in the new place, a large IT guy thought he'd show off and slid along the shiny floor in his socks. Then one of his feet fell through the floor as the end of an overly-sanded floorboard snapped. :)

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Re: Weird new idea for making old buildings usable.

#7 Post by Omicron » Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:18 am

rogue wrote:One word....... Asbestos. Just like the building at the corner of KW and Currie above the Adelaide Metro InfoCentre. All empty.
To what extent is asbestos dangerous if it is left alone?

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Re: Weird new idea for making old buildings usable.

#8 Post by stumpjumper » Tue Nov 06, 2007 6:32 am

Asbestos (of various types) is not dangerous unless it is in a form that the air can carry inside you - eg airborne micro-fibres created when cutting rigid asbestos with power tools etc.

Correct me (someone will) if I'm wrong but I think there is some legislation (maybe BCA, maybe ACC bylaw) which prohibits sleeping on a floor of a building without proper fire egress. You can stay all night, you're just not allowed to go to sleep. Therefore there are a few students living cheaply in rundown buildings... a couple I knew in a side street between Hindley and Currie lived in a huge room on the top floor of one of these sound but semi-condemned buildings. There was a wc, and an 'emergency decontamination shower' (you had to stand under it and hold the red handle down - the place had once been a laboratory of some sort). The bed looked most of the time like a big panel of art on the wall, until it was swung down to the floor. They were there for years, and even had window boxes for a garden.

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Re: Weird new idea for making old buildings usable.

#9 Post by duke » Tue Nov 06, 2007 10:38 am

Asbestos isn't a problem until you go renovating. I think if you do any sort of renovating which disturbs Asbestos then it must be removed. Anyone ever seen it being removed? At the high school I went to a piece fell down from the roof and got in a teachers eye. They had to rip out and replace the whole ceiling. People had to work in big space suits. They had huge plastic sheeting up sealing off the area. The bins for the old panels were inside the building. They would have to be covered in plastic and taped up before being removed. It would have been an extremely expensive job.

I would imagine it would not be worth the cost for any of the pubs to get a 2nd floor. Accommodation maybe, but I don't know of too many people that would want to live on Hindley Street. I would imagine it wouldn't be a nice place to try and sleep on a Fri/Sat night, especially if you have a pub or nightclub down stairs :D
Just look at the value of the Savile apartments on Hindley Street. They are in the more quiet area and still they are worth nothing.

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Re: Weird new idea for making old buildings usable.

#10 Post by stumpjumper » Thu Nov 08, 2007 6:30 am

Dare I say it, but there is a bit of an industry around asbestos removal.

Asbestos is dangerous, but only if made into airborne microfibres. You can eat it, sleep on it, and provided you don't inhale tiny pieces of it, you'll be ok. I have been quoted $800 for the removal from a timber floor of some grey asbestos residue measuring approx 4cm x 20cm. It was left there after an asbestos backed floor covering was removed.

The quote presumably included suits etc. As it was, the tenant removed the stuff in about 5 minutes, by wetting it and wiping it off with a Scoth scourer pad, then washing the removed stuff down the sink. Not ideal disposal, but a tempting option to paying $800.

As for living in Hindley Street, there are some very nice older buildigns down here. Have a look in Peel Street, especially the northern side, near Currie St. Nothing wrong with living there, and if noise is a problem, it's not hard with the deep window reveals on those old buildings to stick another window in front of or behind the existing one, effectively double glazing it.

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