Refurbishment is a term used to describe a process of improvement by cleaning, decorating and re-equipping. It may also include elements of retrofitting with the aim of making a building more energy efficient and sustainable.
As a broad term, refurbishment is often used interchangeably with renovation or restoration (which is to do with restoring a building to its former condition). In general, refurbishment can encompass such works as ‘cosmetic’ renovations (such as painting and decorating), upgrading, major repair work, alterations, conversions, extensions and modernisations.
The lifecycle of a building can be significantly extended by effective refurbishment. As every building is unique, not only structurally, technically and typologically, but also in local context, the correct approach to refurbishment should be assessed according to the particular conditions.
Architects should seek to understand the actual uses of existing buildings and communicate with diverse stakeholders from the initial project phase to the end of the refurbishment.