YOU MAY KNOW that floor loadings differ depending upon the intended use of the floor — but it is not that simple.
Floor Loading Requirements
The imposed loading on a office/commercial use building is generally 3 Kpa (3000 kg per sqm). And a residential use building is 1.5 Kpa (1500 kg per sqm).
Therefore, if you plan on converting a Commercial property to residential — the floor is capable to withstand the higher loads and meet the requirements.
However, changing a commercial to residential means that the floor must be strengthened from 1.5 to 3 Kpa. And this will add a substantial cost to your development.
To ensure you do not get caught unaware, you can review the intended use and floor capacity during your initial cost planning and feasibility stage.
Floor strengthening can be achieved in various ways, although it is generally a costly process.
One option is to connect carbon fibre strips to the outside faces of existing slabs with a heavy duty adhesive.
Another is to add extra steel work to the existing structure to increase the floor loading capacity.
Other Types of Intended Usage
If you plan on converting a commercial building into a different form, other than residential, there are various other loading requirements.
Changing a commercial office to a place of public entertainment (POPE), the loading capacity may have to be increase from 3 Kpa and to 4-5 Kpa for a POPE building.
The floor strength requirement is higher to improve the safety for the increased foot traffic loading.
Therefore, even if you start with a commercial use property, you may still need to improve the floor load capacity during your renovations.
BOTTOM LINE: While it is more common to convert a commercial to residential, the floor loading requirements needs to be considered during initial development review.
Many developers have lost money and many deals have come unstuck because floor loading capacity was overlooked.
NEXT WEEK, you can read about who is actually responsible for determining floor loading, what is the governing legislation, and how to protect yourself.