The Clubhouse – New or Renovated?


Every older club sooner or later has to deal with this issue. Does the club pour good money into an older clubhouse or does the club replace it? More and more clubs today are faced with facilities approaching the end of their useful lives. The cost to transform these older clubhouses into compliance with current codes, safety and operating standards and energy conserving restrictions can easily approach the cost of building a new clubhouse.

This leads to the most challenging question: Renovate or Build New? Four club characteristics usually decide this issue for most clubs. They are the existing clubhouse’s architectural quality, the condition of infrastructure systems, the cost/financing factors and the support of the members to significantly improve the building.

Is Architecture Good Enough? 

Is the clubhouse architecture good enough to be renovated? If the existing architectural quality is marginal, then the issue of cost comes into play. The best rule of thumb on deciding the “renovation or new” issue is, when the cost to renovate approaches or exceeds 70% of the cost to construct a new clubhouse, the new clubhouse must be given serious consideration. 

Financing also a Key Determinate

A very important decision to consider is the financing aspect for a clubhouse upgrade. A new clubhouse should provide a building with at least an 80-year life expectancy, allowing a longer amortization period to pay off a loan (e.g. 25-years). On the other hand, the renovation of a 50 to 70-year or older clubhouse would have a much shorter life expectancy than the new clubhouse building, thus needing continual facility upgrades at least on a 15-year cycle. Thus, a major clubhouse renovation generally does not have financing loans with amortization periods of over 15-years.

Building Membership Support 

It can’t be stressed enough that the decision to renovate or build new must start with how the members themselves feel about the club, the existing clubhouse and their satisfaction with it. When a club’s leadership senses it is facing a major clubhouse decision, always involve the entire membership in the process. Start with a good comprehensive membership survey which lays the foundation for making the right decision which will affect the club’s future for many years to come.  

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About Bill McMahon

Vice President

Bill is a private club planner who has been working with McMahon Group since 1999. Bill is Co-Editor of the quarterly trends report, Club Trends, published with the National Club Association (NCA). Bill studied architecture at Arizona State University and graduated from Webster University in St. Louis with a degree in Media Communications.

Bill’s club memberships have included Bellerive Country Club and the Missouri Athletic Club. Bill is also on the NCA’s Communications Committee. In addition, Bill serves on the Board of Cinema St. Louis and is Second Vice President on the Board of The Tennessee Society of St. Louis.

Bill also created and runs the Clubtopia® business directory for the club world located at

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