Identifying building obsolescence: towards increasing buildings' service life

Mohammad Pourebrahimi, Seyed Rahman Eghbali*, Ana Pereira Roders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
109 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Obsolescence is a decline or loss of utility of an object, building or product. Different types of building obsolescence decrease buildings’ utility and shorten their service life. The purpose of this paper is identification of building obsolescence types and the relevant factors that affect buildings to become obsolete. It is also intended to categorise building obsolescence types to provide a contribution towards increasing building service life and delivering sustainability. Design/methodology/approach: A systematic literature review is applied to conduct this research. It follows five steps: (1) formulating the research question; (2) locating studies; (3) selecting and evaluating relevant studies; (4) analysing the findings; (5) reporting and making use of the results. Findings: Via this study, it is revealed that there are 33 types of building obsolescence. They are clustered in 10 categories regarding their conceptual and causing aspects and are presented based on their recurrence in the literature. According to the findings, economic obsolescence (including economic, financial and market obsolescence types) and functional obsolescence (including functional, use and utility obsolescence types) are the most remarkable categories. Originality/value: Investigating the literature makes it clear that building obsolescence types have been studied intermittently with infrequent profound exploration of the relationship between them. This paper presents a comprehensive identification of building obsolescence types and introduces obsolescence categories that classify connected obsolescence types. It is a new framework for further studies on building obsolescence to find more effective prevention strategies to mitigate social, economic and environmental consequences of building obsolescence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-652
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project

Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Building obsolescence
  • Obsolescence category
  • Obsolescence type
  • Service life
  • Sustainability


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