Converting an Old Office into a Pharma Lab: What to Do

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average cost of building a new pharmaceutical laboratory from scratch can range from $2 million to $10 million. Many factors go into this cost, including the size of the lab, the level of security it requires, and the types of equipment that need to get installed. However, there might be a way to work around it by converting an existing commercial establishment for it.

Many pharmaceutical companies are now looking to purchase older office buildings and convert them into state-of-the-art research facilities. It is often more cost-effective than building a new facility from scratch. It also has the advantage of having a laboratory closer to the company’s other operations, saving on travel costs, and simplifying logistics.

However, some challenges come with converting an old office into a pharmaceutical lab. The most important thing is ensuring the facility meets all the safety and security requirements for handling dangerous chemicals and materials, which might be unpredictable if the building wasn’t designed with this in mind from the start. Here are a few tips to help you with the process.

Review Building’s Construction Blueprint

Workers checking the building's blueprint

You first need to obtain a copy of the building’s construction blueprint from the local planning office. This will give you an idea of the building’s layout and help identify any potential problem areas that need to get addressed. For example, if the building doesn’t have a dedicated loading dock, you might need to add one.

Pharmaceutical labs often have essential facilities like clean rooms, which need to maintain a controlled environment. These usually need to be built from scratch, so you need to factor in the construction cost and ensure there is enough space in the building. Another area is storage rooms, which might contain hazardous chemicals and must be specially ventilated. Identifying those areas within the existing building layout will be necessary, especially when you start the construction process.

Assess the Condition of the Building

The next step is to assess the condition of the building, both internally and externally. Check for signs of structural damage, water damage, and pest infestation. These can all create problems down the line and should be repaired before moving in.

It’s also important to check that the building meets all the relevant fire codes and safety standards. If not, you might need to make some changes, such as installing sprinklers or adding exit doors.

It will be helpful to have a team of reliable experts to help you with this assessment, including an architect, engineer, and experienced contractor. They can spot potential problems you might not be aware of and offer advice on the best way to solve them.

Once you’ve completed all the necessary assessments, it’s time to start drawing up a renovation plan. This should include everything from big-picture changes, like adding a clean room, to more minor details, like painting the walls or replacing the flooring. Durable pharmaceutical floors will be essential to protect against spills and other potential contamination.

It would help if you considered implementing the renovations without disrupting the company’s operations. Moving some departments to temporary offices might be necessary during construction.

Get a Professional Opinion

Once you’ve reviewed the blueprint and assessed the condition of the building, it’s a good idea to get a professional opinion from an architect or engineer familiar with pharmaceutical labs. They can help identify any potential problems with the conversion and offer advice on the best way to solve them.

They can also provide you with an estimate of the costs of renovations, which will be helpful when it comes to budgeting for the project. However, the question remains if it is worth converting.

Start the Renovation Process

Once you have a plan in place, it’s time to start the renovation process. This can be daunting, so working with a team of experienced professionals who can get the job done quickly and efficiently is essential.

Make sure to get all the necessary permits before starting any construction work. This will ensure that the work is up to code and meets all the relevant safety standards.

Having a sound communication system in place is also essential so that everyone knows what’s going on during the renovation process. This will help avoid any disruptions to the company’s operations.

Ensure that all workers are adequately trained to handle hazardous materials safely. This is especially important in a pharmaceutical lab, as dangerous chemicals are often present.

The renovation process can be disruptive, so it’s essential to have a plan to minimize the disruptions. This might include temporarily relocating some departments to other offices or working around construction schedules.

Once the renovations are complete, it’s time to move into the new space and start operating as a pharmaceutical lab. This will require additional equipment and furniture, so budget for those items.

Final Thoughts

Converting an old office into a pharmaceutical lab can be a complicated process, but it’s essential to take the time to plan everything out carefully. Following these steps ensures that the conversion goes smoothly and that the new lab meets all the necessary safety standards.

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