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Renovation work outpaces new construction for first time in two decades

Reconstruction & Renovation

Renovation work outpaces new construction for first time in two decades

AIA's Architectural Billings Index reflects the growing wave of retrofit projects in the United States.


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | November 8, 2022
Renovation work outpaces new construction for first time in two decades

Photo: Vine Ramazani via Unsplash

Renovations of older buildings in U.S. cities recently hit a record high as reflected in architecture firm billings, according to the American Institute of Architects (AIA). As of spring 2022, the majority of billings came from retrofit work, not new construction. It’s the first time in the 20 years AIA data has shown that renovations have surpassed 50%, Bloomberg reports.

In 2005, as a pre-recession building boom neared its end, renovations composed about one-third of billings. That share has been increasing steadily since 2017, when it was 44.4%, and has risen to 52% this year.

Kermit Baker, AIA's Chief Economist, says that the last time the market was so heavily weighted toward renovations was likely during the Great Depression.

One quarter of renovations are for conventional interior modernizations and upgrades, and another quarter are adaptive reuse projects that change the function and program of a building. New tenant fit-outs comprise 17.8% of renovations.

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