Difference Between Alteration Project and New Building Project

Maybe you own or maintain a property or properties and now and your occupancy needs require you to restructure existing space to match changing occupancy needs; as owner, you must be well-informed that alteration projects go beyond renovation.

Alteration projects include an extensive scope of works including renovation, restoration, horizontal extensions, vertical extensions, and additions. For extended usability of existing structures, alteration is very much required for safety and well being of occupancy.

Renovation only refreshes the condition of the building in a way that the structure or purpose of the building is not changed, such as painting exterior walls or replacing kitchen fixtures with new models.

Alteration projects in the building go beyond renovation. They include change of structure specifics and usually require approval from department of building. Alteration projects include changing, modifying or improving the performance or the structure of a building.

Alteration projects, can also involve amendments within a building such as additions, removal, and modifications to the existing floor plans without expanding the existing property. The purpose or function of the building may be altered entirely or partially depending on requirements.

What type of work is covered under “Alteration Projects?”

Before starting an alteration project, it is very important for the owner to define the scope of work. It is important to have a clear goal in mind to evaluate plans against what can actually be done, to be able to allocate a budget for the project.

Below are some terms of types of works covered under alteration projects:

Renovation: If an existing property is partially damaged, has defects, or has been constructed in accordance with outdated standards such that repairs or improvements are necessary then a renovation is the type of alteration required.

Retrofitting: To modify something already in service using parts made after the original in order to extend or improve use; such as to retrofit solar heating into a poorly insulated home.

Refurbishment: It is a broad term that includes both cosmetic renovations such as painting and decorations along with retrofit elements. Refurbishing extends the usable life of a structure or property.

Remodeling: Remodeling work involves changes in the entire building or room plan. Remodeling actually restructures existing building elements such as raising ceilings, adding plumbing, removing or adding walls, horizontal extensions, vertical extensions, and additions. Remodeling projects are promising as there is an opportunity to achieve a new look and new function not previously available.

The difference between Alteration Projects and a New Build?

Alteration projects differs a lot compared to a new build in terms of planning for space, unforeseen work and cost. The decision to demolish entirely and build anew versus alteration, renovation, or remodeling depends on appraisal of the property, calculated cost and time. In essence, want versus need.


The benefits of a new build are greater for the long term as the property is structurally improved thus improving viability, personal satisfaction, and resale value.

New building construction provides the opportunity to play with concepts and variation before actual work begins. This is a “control” build. Alterations have to the potential to become more work, require more alterations derived from the first, that frequently exceed initial cost estimates. Alterations may also confine your work space due to existing structures. This is a “variable” build.

Design and Planning

The design process and related submission requirements for alterations are somewhat different than those for new construction and modernization. An alteration is defined as a limited construction project for an existing building that comprises the modification or replacement of one or a number of existing building systems or components. Alterations are less than total building modernization.

It is easier to plan for a new building project rather than planning for older or damaged buildings requiring alteration. Planning is more critical for a renovation project as compared with a new build; it may require multiple approvals from government departments for a single alteration project.

Both project types require contractor bidding which involves a lot of time, patience, planning, and oversight.

Is renovation cheaper than new build?

There may be many unforeseen, uncontrollable variables despite diligent planning and preparation that may extend the time and cost of a new build or alteration project. The estimated cost should be considered against potential long-term value, both personal and public along with affordability.

Ultimately this answer is dictated by the necessity of the project, and how much one is willing and able to pay.

Renovation vs New Construction: Which is Better for the Environment?

This depends if there is any factor that will have an adverse impact on the environment extensively. The negative impact of carbon pollution resulting from new building construction exceeds that of alteration.

Bottom Line

New building or alteration project, Borough Construction has skilled tenure in varying construction practices. At all times, safety and completion of the project to precise detail is the focus of the company.

Our experience of residential and commercial remodeling services will give you peace of mind, knowing it will be handled in professional manner. Contact us for your next project, our staff is ready to assist you.