Typically, when a clubhouse hits around 15 years since a major renovation has been conducted and the membership is beginning to feel either the neglect or lack of modern amenities, the ownership starts thinking, is now the time to embark on a major change in the form of a capital improvement project?

The next elephant in the room to address is deciding whether to renovate or build new. The gut reaction might be to renovate the existing facility, as the perception is that this is the fiscally responsible option to appease the membership. However, renovations, depending on the scale, are not always less expensive than new construction and can come with difficulties not seen with new construction. Some of these difficulties would include asbestos or other hazardous materials abatement, difficult site conditions, poor soils, and outdated mechanical and structural systems.

When considering a renovation, ask yourself the following:

  1. Will a renovation fit the changing landscape and programming of the club?
  2. Will a renovation attract new members?
  3. Is the building still perceived as aesthetically pleasing?
  4. Are there extensive unforeseen conditions that would cause a renovation to be expensive?

New construction will typically cost 20% to 25% more than a major renovation, and it comes with its own pros and cons. The major pros of new construction are that the building can be designed to meet new program needs. The building will have the latest in mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, and can result in a significant upgrade from an aesthetic standpoint; however, there are some cons to new construction. The most significant of the cons is the added cost of the project, but others to consider would be the need for a temporary facility during construction and potential loss of member amenities during construction. Having said that, the pay off on membership increase can be worth the headache. Michael Bratcher, General Manager/COO, Columbine Country Club states that, “Since embarking on the project, the club has sold more than 200 memberships.” With proper delivery of what is to come, a major overhaul can add new life to well-deserving club.

After considering the pros and cons of a renovation versus new construction and how they specifically impact your club, it is important to engage professionals such as owner’s representatives to help guide you from an idea to a finished product. Owner’s representatives will act on your behalf to identify specific challenges, set a baseline schedule, set a master budget, and procure all needed parties such as architects, general contractors, environmental and other consultants. In the end, with a well-planned project and the correct team, any project can be a success.

~ Conor Bancroft, Project Manager