Build or Renovate? That is the question.

By Diane M. Loeffler


As residents of Sun City Center, we are faced with a big decision, one that will have an influence on our community for years to come. As with all important decisions, we need to look carefully at all of the information so that we make our choice based on facts.

The Community Association Administration Building is in trouble. You can go to the CA Office and review the structural engineer’s report. There is no question that something needs to be done. The question is what should be done.

The last of a series of meetings held about the CA Administration Office was held at 7 p.m. on February 21. Nearly all of the 300 chairs were occupied. CA President John Luper opened the meeting with the pledge and introduced Jonathan Moore, the hired consultant who has led groups through the decision-making process on over 500 buildings.


Residents listen as a consultant discusses the “build” or “renovate” options.

The Options

Our choices are to renovate the existing building or to build a new structure. Over time more has been learned about how to construct a building that has the best chance of withstanding a hurricane. We have also learned more about how to construct walls and design HVAC units to save energy. This allows us to save money as well as being kinder to our planet. The American Disabilities Act has helped set standards that allow all individuals to have access to buildings and within buildings. We not only need to follow these guidelines when we make major changes to a structure, we want to make these changes so that every resident can have access.

Whether we renovate our existing building or design a new one, we will eventually have a building that meets these standards. Either way, there will be no increase in CA dues. Capital funds money will be used. The current balance in that fund is $1.1 million. Every time a home is sold, $1,800 is added to that fund. With the way the billing is done, there will be sufficient funds in that account to pay for a new building or a renovated building.


The Costs

Renovating the existing building will cost an estimated $935,000 for a building that will last 15 to 20 years. Budget items include the following: fill under slab, foundation upgrades and underpinnings, wall modifications for 36-inch opening for doors, new 36-inch doors, new ADA compliant restrooms, wall renovations for ADA clearance, new drinking fountains, electrical service upgrade, electrical revisions for new walls, HVAC upgrades, front door impact glass, flooring / miscellaneous revisions due to ADA work, hurricane strengthen roof, impact glass/ hurricane rated windows, re-roof, paint / seal / calk exterior, new emergency egress from board room, fire rating of board room, architecture / engineering fees, permitting fees, and contingency funding.

After all of these changes have been completed, the floor plan of the renovated building will be basically the same, except that most of the rooms will be smaller because of the square footage that is taken from the increased size of the halls and restrooms. Overall, the renovated structure will be 5,722 square feet. The exterior would be essentially the same as it is now.

The cost for a new structure is expected to be $1.55 million. The new structure would have an expected life of 50-plus years. The building will be 6,425 square feet.  In other words, this building would last 30 to 35 years longer or more than the renovated structure at a cost of $615,000 more. It will be 703 square feet larger. The floor plan would allow for a much better traffic flow. After entering the lobby, CA members could walk right to the board offices and meeting room, or they could go straight back to the administrative offices. Restrooms would be located immediately off the lobby. The building would be constructed in a style that echoes that of the Information Center, the Samaritan Building and the Apple Lab / Photo / Dance Studio II Building. The new administrative building would meet or exceed all standards for safety, handicap accessibility, and energy efficiency. Features such as the Fox Block 4-inch double insulated walls with an RF factor of 21.6 would save money.

In addition to the facts listed above there are a number of subjective questions you may wish to ask yourself. What sort of impression do you think house hunters have when they drive by our main campus? How does the appearance of our current administration building compare to that of other 55+ communities they visit during their home search? Do you think a new building would have a positive impact on people choosing to move to Sun City Center? If so, how much of a difference? How does the existing structure look and function? How would the new building look and function?

You can view a consultant’s report here. Click on the image to view.