Estimating the useful life of buildings

Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Details

Published Version.

Langston, C. (2011). Estimating the useful life of buildings. Paper presented at the 36th annual conference for Australasian University Building Educators Association (AUBEA), Gold Coast, Australia.

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2011 HERDC submission. FoR code: 120504

© Copyright C. Langston, 2011


Obsolescence is a phenomenon that is widely discussed in the literature, although rarely in relation to buildings. In this paper parallels are drawn between obsolescence, depreciation and discounting in order to develop a new method for predicting the impact of building obsolescence based on measurable context factors. These factors have physical, economic, functional, technological, social, legal and political characteristics. Useful life is defined as discounted physical life, where the rate of discount is determined from predicted future obsolescence. As part of the method, a new tool for determining the physical life of buildings is presented. Using an adaptive reuse paradigm to compare predicted useful life with actual useful life, a large number of case studies is analysed retrospectively. The findings demonstrate that the proposed method is robust and that the concept of discounting physical life using obsolescence as a discount rate is valid.



This document has been peer reviewed.