Feasibility Study Report as Tool for Repurposing Commercial Heritage Buildings

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This study investigates the impact of the feasibility study report as a tool for repurposing commercial heritage buildings. The report will explore the role of the construction feasibility study report in refurbishing, converting and reusing commercial heritage buildings. The research aims to enrich the understanding of the role of the feasibility study report in promoting the use of carbon friendly methods of construction. Studies show that a feasibility study report is a tool for systematically managing risk in refurbishment of construction projects.

Currently many momentous buildings are derelict, underutilised or vacant due to various reasons such as planning legislation that categorises land use into classes, restricting refurbishments for change of use. As a result, many commercial listed buildings are abandoned, void and derelict and this may result in the loss of significance of heritage buildings.

Underutilised and vacant and vacant buildings are prone to vandalism and natural degradation. This building decay creates a risk to the building’s future and significance  especially heritage buildings, a majority of which were hand built.

Case studies of derelict and vacant commercial heritage buildings in the United Kingdom are examined to investigate the correlation between the feasibility study report, risk management, refurbishment and re-purposing heritage  buildings to regenerate cities.

Refurbishing and reusing disused heritage buildings can play an important role in the regeneration process and can contribute to getting empty properties back into use to meet the growing need for new buildings. Refurbishing for reuse is also a sustainable way of construction.

The concept of using the construction feasibility study report  to reuse and repurpose buildings is currently high amongst commercial property landlords, planners, legislature, policy and heritage organisations.

The current adage is that it is more profitable to demolish an old building than to refurbish an old structure. In the UK, building demolition dates to the 1880s when demolition of older buildings was an active government policy when the government first authorised the statutory demolition of unsanitary slums. However, due to the need for greener construction processes refurbishment instead of demolition is now the present thought process of sustainable construction through the feasibility of the study report.

Traditionally, property owners of vacant heritage buildings have shown little interest in refurbishing these heritage buildings for reuse. Apathy or a lack of knowledge regarding the role of the construction feasibility report as a construction tool may be the cause of this.

However, despite this there is currently a rising number of heritage buildings that have been successfully refurbished and repurposed in the UK using the feasibility study report through English Heritage.

Currently most local authorities use the feasibility study report as a process for testing the viability of construction projects and to manage design risks. This  helps the refurbishment to stay with budget.

It is suggested that the feasibility study report process has gained prominence in helping reuse many old and derelict buildings. However, despite this several academics argue that the feasibility report process is complicated, time consuming and a waste of money and this may contribute to the high number of derelict and abandoned commercial heritage buildings.


There has recently been an increase in the refurbishment of heritage buildings in UK. Refurbishing and reusing heritage buildings can play an important role in the regeneration of cities, reduce harmful atmospheric carbon emissions and  contribute to the local economy. According to Dan and Wood (2004), Britain has a large stock of heritage buildings.

Heritage buildings provide a basis for the regeneration of our built environment. Refurbishment of heritage buildings can help bring a much needed resource back into use, make an important contribution to the local economy and promote employment. Heritage buildings should not be retained as artefacts, relics of a bygone age. Local authorities should allow be more sympathetic to owners of heritage buildings who plan to adapt their buildings in order to improve its functionality.

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According to Historic England (2002), many of England’s historic  textile mill buildings stand empty and neglected because of too many planning restrictions and consents required before heritage buildings can be modified. Heritage mill buildings are fundamental to the history and culture of many urban cities in the United Kingdom. These buildings were once powerhouses behind the industrial revolution that catalysed the change from agriculture to industry and manufacturing and triggered unprecedented levels of construction boom with buildings termed “manufactories” being built to house current day mills.

It is these mills that are now called buildings of special architectural importance a title that limits refurbishments of these buildings. Buildings of special architectural interest are protected by planning law and through organisations such as Historic England. Any refurbishments to the buildings are supposed to be approved by the local government council, who consider the impact of the proposed development on surrounding buildings and local landscape. This status is viewed by many developers as having an adverse impact in the repurposing of heritage  buildings. Conversely, refurbishing and reusing heritage buildings can help guarantee the future of these buildings.

Nevertheless, many heritage buildings are at risk of being insignificant and face a considerable number of challenges as a result of not being functional to meet the needs of the current modern standards. 

In the northern UK many heritage mill buildings are in traditionally weak peripheral locations where occupancy levels and investor demand is low high conservation and  refurbishment costs affect the preservation of these iconic buildings. Such properties can be viewed as more of a liability, rather than an asset leading to dereliction. It is because of this reason that the feasibility study report is an important tool in the repurposing of heritage buildings quickly and economically since the most optimum refurbishment option will be selected.

Many heritage buildings are currently derelict, vacant and not maintained. This slowly leads to slow degradation of the building fabric and components and ultimately results in total building disrepair. Derelict and disrepair in buildings is synonym with social problem. Abandoned heritage buildings can be a haven for illegal drug farms. Derelict buildings can reduce the attractiveness of an area and lead to a decline in building costs. Conversely, abandoned areas may be looked at sympathetically by local mortgage lenders, governments and planners to try and make it easier to buy and build. A feasibility study report process will help highlight optimum options for refurbishments including costs. In other terms the feasibility study process is a tool  recent studies show that  integrating historic buildings with regeneration schemes can create popular, vibrant urban buildings which can catalyse economic and employment growth.

Definition of Heritage Asset

According to Historic England (2012),  a heritage asset is “a building, monument, site, place, area or landscape identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions, because of its heritage interest. Heritage asset includes designated heritage assets and assets identified by the local planning authority (including local listing)”.

Definition of Feasibility Study Report

Gruneberg and Weight (1994) define the feasibility study report as a methodical examination of proposals in order to establish the degree to which these attributes, amongst others are present. The feasibility study report is the single most important tool to check project viability at concept stage before undertaking project design and construction. The effectiveness of the feasibility study report will impact on the successful delivery of the project.

The topic of feasibility study has gained prominence ever since heritage/listed Buildings Policy BH 8 was created. A listed building is defined as a heritage building and consent to proposals for any  extensions or alterations of  these types of buildings are granted only when criteria are met.

  • The essential character of the building and its setting are retained, and its features of special interest remain intact and unimpaired;
  • The works proposed make use of traditional and/or sympathetic building materials and techniques which match or are in keeping with those found on the building;
  • The architectural details (e.g. doors, gutters, windows) match or are in keeping with the building.

Definition of commercial heritage building

Definition of Adaptation

There are various definitions of the term adaptation and one of the best is provided by Chudley as cited by Douglas (2002), ‘In general terms adaptation means the process of adjustment and alteration of a structure or building and/or its environment to fit or suit new conditions’. To this Douglas (2002) added ‘it is also considered as work accommodating change in use or size or performance of a building which may include alterations, extensions, improvements, and other works modifying it in some way’.

There are three main forms of adaptation namely:

Conversion: work including a change in function or change in use, such as converting an office block and making it suitable for residential use;

Extension: work that includes an increase in size, which can be horizontal or vertical expansion;

Refurbishment: work that is related to a change in performance.


The aim of this study is to determine the impact of the feasibility study report on refurbishments of heritage buildings. The study will seek to establish if the feasibility study report has a positive or negative impact on the refurbishment and repurposing of heritage buildings.


The objectives listed below will provide guidance for the successful completion of this study.

  • To establish the possibility of refurbishing and repurposing heritage commercial buildings.
  • To analyse the use of the feasibility study report on building refurbishments.
  • To study the impact of the feasibility study process on risk management in construction projects.
  • To evaluate the role of the feasibility study process on sustainable construction.
  • To determine how construction legislation affects commercial heritage buildings.
  • To investigate the impact of technology on heritage buildings.

Literature Review

Like any other building commercial heritage buildings can be thoughtfully adapted to accommodate continuing or new uses. The feasibility study report is viewed as tool to accommodate the thoughtful alteration or refurbishment of heritage buildings in a systematic way that will preserve the buildings features for future generations. While the feasibility topic has been widely discussed, limited research has been conducted regarding the impact of the feasibility report on reusing heritage buildings. Gruneberg and Weight (1998) state that the feasibility study report provides a comprehensive statement which plans and manages the design and construction phases of a project. This is a due diligence process that demonstrates the following objectives;

Financial and economic planning

Construction timing

Gaining defence of planning consent.

To evaluate the role of the feasibility study process on sustainable construction.

Since the late 1880s when statutory demolition of unsatisfactory slums was introduced, demolition has been viewed as a solution to solve the problem of dereliction. However, Diva (2015) states that the  concept  of  refurbishment for reuse has significant support as a positive strategy to make the built environment more sustainable. He further argues that refurbishment for reuse enhances the longer-term usefulness of a building and is therefore  a  more sustainable. option than demolition and rebuilding. Calabro (2019) also states that reusing a derelict building improves the physical environment creating a positive outcome. Diva and Calabro agree that reusing an existing resource is a more sustainable way of construction. However, these 2 authors do not consider that the refurbishment of heritage buildings is costly due to the specific and special types of materials required to carry out the building adaptation as part of town planning requirements.

According to Douglas, (2006), “Building refurbishment is an activity that continues to make a significant contribution to the workload of the construction industry. Given its importance to sustainable construction, the proportion of adaptation works in relation to new build is likely to remain substantial for the foreseeable future, especially in the developed parts of the world”. Although this statement may be correct, it has some elements of bias in it. Yes, sustainable construction is good for the industry, however the quest to use sustainable materials and processes can increase procurement times and result in increased costs. Conversely refurbishment of any heritage building improves and increases the energy efficiency and structural stability of the building. This improvement is normally undertaken after the results of a feasibility study and it improves the asset real value.

In the 1960s, revulsion at the scale of ‘demolition blight’ and new re-building caused a rethink of the government construction strategy, leading to a major reinvestment in inner city neighbourhoods of older buildings. Demolition and re-building were the new thought process of that era. Again, in year 2003 the UK Government’s Sustainable Communities Plan intensified the debate on demolition. According to Gruneberg and Wright (1994), removing the worst or derelict building may seem the easiest and quickest way of reducing energy use and unsightly rundown buildings. This statement is implying that it may be easier to carry out a full building demolition of a derelict heritage building. However, it does not address the fact that demolishing old buildings comes with both advantages and disadvantages, and to help make this decision a feasibility study report would provide the most optimum sustainable option.

A feasibility study report can highlight, evaluate and structure the advantages and disadvantages over time of alternative solutions to given construction problems. Mesly, (2016) defines feasibility study as a tool for uncovering points of vulnerability in a construction project. Generally, it is widely stated that feasibility study is an analysis that takes all a project’s relevant factors into account including economic, technical, legal, and scheduling considerations to ascertain the likelihood of completing the project successfully. Despite this perception several scholars have argued that the feasibility study process does not encompass sustainability as a core factor in the process.

Many researchers argue that sustainable construction has positive environmental impacts; However, studies show that an investors decision to build sustainably remains entrenched in a project’s financial viability. A survey McGraw Hill Construction (2006) showed that the potential to reduce energy costs was selected by 54% of respondents as the top reason for sustainable construction. In this study, only 24% of respondents stated that the building’s impact on the  environment was the driving force behind their involvement in the industry. This statement exposes the bias against the refurbishment and repurposing of heritage buildings. Langdon (2004) argues that they are wide variations in costs associated with sustainable projects and conventional projects. However, when assessing the high initial costs of sustainable refurbishment costs in heritage buildings, it is widely viewed that longer-term cost savings in energy efficiency operations and maintenance can help recover those costs.

The goal of sustainable construction is to create and operate a healthy built environment based on reusing existing resources efficiently through holistic feasibility study report process.

To establish the possibility of repurposing heritage commercial buildings.

Heritage buildings are unique in terms of architectural designs and workmanship. It can be argued that repurposing old buildings gives them a new life, (The Globe and Mail Publication, 2019). Nevertheless, Bullen and Love, (2010), argue that to date  there has been limited research that has examined the economic benefits of heritage buildings. As a result, the retention of heritage buildings are often viewed as being “investment sinkholes. Both statements from the Globe, Bullen and Love are  true, although having different meanings. Upgrading a buildings elements will lead to an increase in that building’s component having an increased lifespan. While it can be argued that an old un-refurbished  buildings will not have any appeal to tenants or investors. In fact, the old building may suffer from underutilisation or even abandonment.

McCorkel (2018), argues that the practice of taking an existing structure and repurposing it for some other use is not necessarily a new idea.

Heritage buildings such as old mills, churches, cathedrals and palaces are a vital part of our heritage. The buildings exhibit special architectural and design characteristics that need protecting and preserving for future generations. In the past decades refurbishing and reusing heritage buildings has given rise to government policies that aim to protect heritage buildings and prevent inappropriate alterations that may change or destroy heritage buildings.

Mynors, (2006), places a strong emphasis on the protection of remains of distant times, especially buildings. English Heritage,1992 states that unoccupied buildings in the UK face the greatest risk of decay.

The government first made a commitment to review the way we protect our historic environment ( A Force for our Future (2001) and as well a consultation paper (Making the System Work Better,  2003). Both papers argue that sustainable construction is the only way to refurbish heritage buildings. However tackling problems of vacant and derelict buildings needs a methodical and systematic approach to reduce the high number of empty heritage buildings. Leaner construction processes can be achieved by using the feasibility study report to choose the most efficient methods of adapting and reusing heritage buildings.

In the past few decades adaptations of heritage buildings have become common in the UK as this process presents faster construction timescales than demolishing and re-building. Ng, (2015) states that “it makes commercial sense to adapt an existing building instead of developing it from ground up”. The statement by this author asserts that it is cheaper to refurbish a building than to demolish and rebuild. Although this may be true, however new build properties will certainly have more appeal to buyers and lenders because the build will be assumed to have a longer lifespan than a building which has been standing for centuries, but some heritage buildings may cost more than new builds due to cultural significance of the heritage building.

Technology advancement  is rapidly changing the way we work and live, thereby influencing the need to modernise heritage buildings to meet current standards. However, Clark (2008), poses the following question, “In today’s economy, does retrofitting an older building really make sense when compared to building new? Other authors argue that there is no clear cut answer and it depends on various factors as there are many considerations  to weigh such as the cultural distinction, aesthetics, and expenses for any project. Although the results of previous studies showed that further research was warranted in this area, current studies have demonstrated that there is a need to refurbish and reuse an old structure (Bullen, 2007).

Every city has older and underutilised properties and they often occupy good, central locations and therefore have the potential to become valued developments, however there are arguments against this stating that it is more profitable to develop new buildings than to invest the required capital to refurbish and reuse an old structure (Bullen, 2007). Some authors state that there are advantages with demolishing the old building and replacing it with a new building over refurbishment and reusing.

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According to Brebbia (2010), the pressure from current market demands is to demolish heritage buildings and artistic worth and build new buildings with function and economic values. Despite this statement preservation and conservation of heritage is a key concept in the government’s strategy to protect our historical and cultural values. It can be argued that refurbishing and reusing heritage buildings can help tackle climate change and reduce the carbon footprint. According to a publication by The Engine Shed (2018), reusing a building saves on the carbon needed to build a replacement, not to mention the loss of embodied energy with demolition.

On the other hand, several studies in the literature presents economic benefits of refurbishment and reusing heritage buildings. Bullen (2007), states that adaptation of heritage buildings is gaining momentum as an effective strategy to improve the sustainability of existing buildings by lowering material, transport and energy consumption and pollution. This statement describes the current thought process in the UK were refurbishment is a strategy for improving and reusing heritage buildings. Refurbishing and reusing heritage buildings reduces cost time and helps preserve a buildings visual quality aesthetics. It can be argued that refurbishments use less energy when compared to new builds. This make the process leaner and cleaner.

To study the impact of the feasibility study process on risk management in construction projects.

A perspective frequently held by researchers studying this topic is that construction risks are around cost, time and quality. A feasibility study report is a process driven and robust methodical approach to manage risk in construction projects. The feasibility study report maybe thought of as a SWOT analysis of a project to remove risk to promote successful completion and continued viability of the project.

According to Gunn (2009),  the feasibility study report aims to systematically analyse project risks, viability and profitability of refurbishing heritage buildings. The author states that the role of the  feasibility study report seeks to methodically risk assess, minimise and remove risks in construction projects, thereby rendering these projects practical, economic but profitable. This argument is convincing because a feasibility study report will include all aspects of a project from technical, environmental and economic considerations.  

Today, many construction companies carry out feasibility studies to assess the viability of a construction project. A feasibility study report will help evaluate a project in terms of the strengths, weaknesses, resources, finances and how practical a project is. In brief a feasibility study report will assesses the potential, as well as the limitations of an idea. So why is a feasibility study so important?

With today’s faltering economy funding streams have been reduced meaning that it is prudent that investors need to protect their investments. A feasibility study will ensure project viability and buildability to ensure estimated costs are not surpassed.

Many heritage buildings now exhibit signs of decay. Various positive case studies of refurbishments of heritage commercial buildings show that positive outcomes are achievable for repurposing heritage buildings through a methodical risk reduction approach based on feasibility study report.

Laird and Amos  (2001), argue that the preparation of a feasibility study report is an important element early in the life cycle of a development project. The authors rightly conclude that if a feasibility study report process is immediately commissioned after the preparation and brief stage of a project (RIBA stage 1), then risks associated with project failures can be assessed and mitigated at an early stage before costs are incurred. This shows that early project risk  reduction processes can help achieve successful project outcomes.

The literature shows that there is a link between feasibility study report, risk management and successful heritage building refurbishment for re-use.

The perspectives of Laird and Amos  (2001), confirm that for a project to be successful a feasibility study report  to refurbish heritage buildings is a construction tool for systematically identifying, eliminating, reducing and managing risk. This confirms that the FSR is also a  smart tool for managing construction hazards.

Currently there is a growing consensus amongst several  authors that the feasibility study process is important in the re-development of heritage  buildings. Bullen and Love, (2010), confirms that heritage buildings  provide  significant economic,  cultural  and  social benefits since historic buildings form an integral part of our social capital. This statement confirmed by the numerous numbers of tourists visiting Buckingham palace built in 1703 and Westminster Cathedral constructed in1885. It can be argued that regular maintenance has played a major role in allowing the heritage buildings to remain structurally intact, weather proof  and aesthetically pleasing.

However, some authors argue that a robust maintenance regime instead of a feasibility study report for refurbishment and repurposing heritage buildings is necessary to secure a future for heritage buildings. However, England (2013) argues that “new techniques, materials and treatments often seem promising, but can prove disappointing and sometimes disastrous to conserving heritage  buildings”. Despite this assertion the use of feasibility study process as a risk management tool for reusing listed buildings is increasing and it is evidential from successful case studies of heritage buildings refurbishments that the FSR process can prove concept viability before any costs are incurred.

When a heritage building feasible study report process is carried out for repurposing heritage buildings, this not only retains the building but conserves the effort, skill and dedication of the original builders (Love and Bullen, 2009). Some researchers argue against the point made by Love and Bullen. The results of a feasibility study report are viewed as a material change of use which would impact on the strength of the construction materials as this would involve fusing old and new materials. However,  Bromley et al. (2005) argues that  refurbishment of heritage buildings for reuse is essentially a form of risk management as this improves and strengthens the original build. A strength of this argument is that improving an old building has an effect of reducing energy consumption thereby increasing the lifespan of the building elements.

To determine how construction legislation affects commercial heritage buildings.

According to William, E., 2015, “In the 1960s the protection of  monuments or buildings was not in itself enough, and that good conservation work was often being rendered ineffective by unsympathetic developments allowed to occur in front of, besides, behind, or even over heritage buildings”. A further extension

When the production and protection of heritage attracts public resources, this works as an incentive to invent and sustain, to produce and reproduce “heritages” that may have little or no basis in tradition. Their legitimacy then derives not from their historicity but from financial calculus (Kockel 2007a)

To analyse the significance of the feasibility study process on construction projects

There is currently a gap in the construction market between current procedures and best practices with regards to smart construction. The importance of cost and time control is widely recognized by construction in the UK. In the UK government guidance states that all new policies, programs and projects, whether revenue, capital or regulatory, should be subject to comprehensive but proportionate assessment, wherever it is practicable, as so best to promote the public interest. (HM Treasury, 2003). A strength of HM Treasury (2003) argument is that current planning laws do not stipulate the requirement of a feasibility study report as a planning application backup. This shows that there is a gap between the understanding of the impact of the feasibility study report process. The government in its Treasury publication seem to be advocating for the FSR whereas local governments do not mention this process in their publications.

Kerzner (2006) argues that  “the feasibility study report considers the technical aspects of the conceptual alternatives and provides a firmer basis on which to decide whether to undertake the project.” In brief, the feasibility study includes an in-depth analysis of a project´s viability and focuses on helping to decide whether to proceed or not with the idea.

Kerzner (2006) has taken this idea further by explaining that the purpose of the feasibility report is to fulfil project objectives of cost, time and quality. This author rightly suggests that a FSR will help achieve buildability. Gardiner, (2005), goes further to state that  a feasibility study enables a realistic evaluation of a project, incorporating both the positive and negative aspects of the opportunity.

Hyari and Kandil (2009), maintain that ensuring the validity of a feasibility study report in construction projects is a vital step in ascertaining that decisions related to the construction of facilities are based on consistent and standard procedures that avoid the use of misleading or inadequate information. The interpretation of these authors confirms that the FSR is a smart, systematic and methodical process for executing construction projects. Many authors argue that the process always leads to successful project initiation and completion.

Research Design and Methodology.

Research methodology refers to the principles and procedures of logical thought  processes which are applied to a scientific investigation. The aim of this research is to understand how the feasibility study report influences construction, focusing on the refurbishment of heritage buildings.

Qualitative research was chosen as a suitable approach for this research and is informed by the work of Lincoln (2000), who distinguished that qualitative research is a multi-method type of research that uses an interpretive and realistic approach. He further highlights that qualitative research is used strongly used to examine an occurrence within the built environment in which it naturally occurs.

Qualitative research can provide robust insights from actions that have occurred in a real-life context and preserves the intended meaning which forms an understanding of underlying social processes and meaning in a business/management environment and further, can provide memorable examples of important issues that enrich the business management field.

The feasibility study is a social science.

Fellows and Liu, ( 2008) state that research requires a systematic approach by the researcher, irrespective of what is being investigated and the methods adopted. Traditionally scientific theories must be testable empirically. If a theory is true and one fact is known, often another can be deduced.

Tsoukas (1989) argues that qualitative research is a type of evidence rather than a research design which by analogy, applies to quantitative studies too. It is a systematic approach from bottom going up.

Research is a cognitive process that comprises of a logical discovery. The ontological and epistemological bases of research are fundamental as they inform all research activities such as using and developing theories which denotes what elements in the world are relevant to the topic of investigation and how those elements are related to each other and to context ( Van Maanen et al, 2007).

Mir and Watson (2000), describe a paradigm as a theoretical framework which includes a system by which people view events. Paradigms operate to determine not only what views are adopted but also the approach to questioning and discovery.

Pragmatism is a methodology that concentrates on practical rather than idealistic principles. For the pragmatist, there may be various or multiple ways of arriving at the reality. This can be through subjective or objective means, sometimes requiring a combination of subjective and objective techniques (Onwuegbuzie, Johnson and Collins 2009).

Why case studies

Case study approach has been widely used in the research involving construction projects for various research purposes, Gibb, 2001; Barrett et al, 2005).

Case studies encourage in depth investigation of instances within the research subject. In investigating complex situation, such as construction projects, case study approach has been proven reliable to capture the rich information for the purpose of the investigation. Case study method has been regarded allowing investigators to retain the holistic and meaningful characteristics of real-life events

Robson, (2002), argues that a case study as a kind of ‘soft option’ and possibly admissible as an exploratory precursor to ‘more scientific’ experiment or surveys, or merely as a complement to such ‘more scientific’ approaches, but of dubious value as a standalone strategy. However, other scholars have regarded case study as a fully legitimate real life approach experiment in the built environment.

Use of case study approach has been found allowing investigators to retain the holistic and meaningful characteristics of real-life events (Yin, 2003). In investigating complex situations, such as construction projects, case study approach has been proven reliable to capture the rich information for the purpose of the study (Sutrisna and Barrett, 2007). Case studies combine a variety of data collection methods, with the vehicle or medium of study being the case.

This research will be examined mainly using qualitative research methodology.

Case studies operate through theoretical generalisations  rather than Empirical/statistical generalisations. The word empirical describes any information gained by experience , observation and experiment. One of the tenets of scientific methods is that the evidence must be empirical, i.e. based on observable evidence.

Empiricism therefore defines a way of gathering knowledge by direct observation and experience rather than through logic.

In the scientific paradigm the term refers to the use of hypotheses that can be tested using observation and experiment. Empirical research is a more structured way of asking and testing a question.

Flyvbjerg (2006) reiterates the importance of case studies in that a “discipline without a large number of thoroughly executed case studies is a discipline without systematic production of exemplars, and that a discipline without exemplars is an ineffective one”.

Research methods can be perceived as the actual technique or procedures used to collate and analyse data (Blaikie, 2000). The research methods chosen are linked to the research question posed and to the source of data collected.

Research in various disciplines can be generally situated in an intellectual or philosophical tradition such as positivism, interpretivism or constructivism and pragmatism (Punch 2013). A feasibility study report is aligned to the positivism paradigm as it produces highly empirical results.

The research project involved case studies of heritage buildings in commercial use.

Research Limitations

All research methods have limitations dependent on the methodology used. In a quantitative methodology qualitative research is commonly viewed with suspicion and considered lightweight because it involves small samples which may not be representative of the broader problem. Whilst the opposite is true for qualitative methodology as quantitative research can be dismissed as over-simplifying individual experience in the cause of generalisation, failing to acknowledge researcher biases and expectations in research design, and requiring guesswork to understand the human meaning of aggregate data.

Research findings are dependent upon a valid choice of research methodology, reliability of the data gathered, and the applicability of the statistical tools used.

The detailed analysis of data  collection may limit the number of studies, when research is subject to resource constraints.

Case studies in construction may be selected because of their being representative of real life scenarios.

Include validity of the data

  • The Globe and Mail. 2019. Repurposing old buildings gives them new life – The Globe and Mail. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/industry-news/property-report/article-repurposing-old-buildings-gives-them-new-life/. [Accessed 02 September 2019].
  • McCorkel Construction Services, Inc. 2019. Commercial Property Repurposing – Five Adaptive Reuse Success Stories. [ONLINE] Available at: https://mccorkelconstructionservices.com/2018/08/12/commercial-property-repurposing/. [Accessed 02 September 2019].
  • F., R., 2015. Research Methods for Construction (coursesmart). Wiley.
  • Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Johnson, R. B., and Collins, K. M. (2009) ‘Call for Mixed Analysis: A Philosophical Framework for Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches’. International journal of multiple research approaches 3 (2), 114-139
  • Punch, K. F. (2013) Introduction to Social Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches. London: Sage Publications.
  • Gibb, A. G. F. (2001), ‘Standardization and pre-assembly – distinguishing myth from reality using case study research’, Construction Management and Economics, 19, pp. 307-315.
  • Barrett, P., Sutrisna, M., Sterry, P. Short, A., and Dye, A. (2006) ‘Modelling Processes in Case Studies Using Rich Picture Diagrams: A Novel Approach’, In: Pietroforte, R., De Angelis, E., Polverino, F. (Eds.), Joint 2006 CIB W055 / W065 / W068 Symposium: Construction in the XXI Century: Local and global challenges, 18-20 October 2006, Rome, CIB.
  • Cook, T. D. and Campbell, D. T. (1979), Quasi-experimentation: Design and analysis issues for field settings, Rand McNally, Chicago.
  • Robson, C. (2002), Real World Research, 2nd ed., Blackwell Publisher, Oxford.
  • Van Maanen, J. (1998). Different strokes: Qualitative research in the Administrative Science Quarterly from 1956-1996. In John Van Maanen (Ed.), Qualitative Studies of Organizations (pp. 8-33). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.


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