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Last updated: February 20, 2024 • Home Improvement

Converting a Warehouse into a Loft Living Space

Ever thought about turning a warehouse into your dream home? It’s not your typical housing move, but hey, that’s what makes it interesting! We’re talking about converting industrial spaces into cozy lofts – a trend that’s catching on fast. Forget the usual house-flipping scene; smart investors are onto something different. At RealEstateAgent.com, we’ve already discussed finishing basements, but turning a whole warehouse into a home? Now, that’s next-level stuff. Picture this: big open spaces, high ceilings, and the freedom to shape it your way – from creating separate spots to leaving it all open for a loft-style vibe. Curious about how to make this happen and what it’ll cost? Let’s dive into the deets and see if turning a warehouse into your personal sanctuary is your kind of adventure!

Summary:

How to convert a warehouse into a loft?

warehouse conversion contemporary living

1. Research for properties: 

Before you get into the warehouse conversion, you will definitely find joy in researching your city’s industrial history and exploiting the past. Researching for properties is the first step in converting a warehouse into an apartment.  After identifying an industrial warehouse facility that could become habitable, check the structure, especially if it sat abandoned for a long time and the interior has been exposed to all acts of God. Visit the site with an architect or a construction engineer.

2. Hire the right professionals: 

Converting the interior takes work. That’s why working with an architect who knows the International Residential Code (IRC) and the ANSI Standard is essential. Request bids from a few firms first. A fire marshal’s opinion might also be necessary during the design phase.

3. Obtain the necessary permits: 

Request bids from contractors, too, and ask them whether they will obtain the necessary permits or if this will be your responsibility. Plumbing, electrical, and ventilation work will also require permits and inspection after the build to ensure they all meet local codes. 

4. Create a budget for the work: 

Try to keep your project within your budget! You can save a lot of money by keeping the walls as you find them. Make sure that the builder and the architects are communicating well. 

5. Consider consulting an interior designer: 

Ultimately, you will probably have to hire an interior designer to soften the rough interiors and turn them into saleable products. Keep in mind that many people will call your new apartment their home. Think as if you were to live there forever!

More warehouse loft conversion tips to keep in mind

training home concept grey sofa

Warehouses may have existing wood flooring, but concrete is more likely. Install wood or tile over concrete, clean and pane it, and then cover it with large area rugs to provide warmth and color.  Walls can be left plain, showing the brick or concrete, or covered with drywall and painted. A drop ceiling may not be as dramatic as exposed beams or rafters, but it will be more energy efficient.

A floor plan should be created to help determine how space is used. If plumbing must be installed, having the lavatory and the kitchen on the same end of the room will be less expensive than installing plumbing in two different sections of the area. While you will undoubtedly want to frame out a bathroom to afford yourself privacy, the rest of the apartment can be left open or partitioned as space permits to form different living areas.

A loft bedroom can turn a relatively small square footage into a luxury pad. The typical high ceilings of warehouse buildings make building simple, and you can install an attractive spiral staircase for easy access. Stairs are unique features in warehouse conversion projects, and there are so many creative ideas that also add more storage space.

A balcony railing will prevent accidental falls and afford the occupant a clear view of the downstairs, while the big windows will let in plenty of natural light. If you have neighbors across the street, make sure that you find some lovely curtains to preserve your privacy after dark.

If you research and get realistic cost estimates, a warehouse conversion could provide an inexpensive, long-term investment!

Warehouse conversion cost

boxes money dollar concept bag

If the thought of converting a warehouse into a home appeals to you, and you don’t know where to start, find a real estate agent specializing in commercial properties or investments.

Such properties could be in downtown areas or very far from the city center, in former industrial areas/districts, so well-intended brokers know best where to take you. We advise against purchasing a warehouse and turning it into a single-family home when no similar dwellings exist. This is a risky approach, even though the cost of that warehouse conversion could be meager.

Why? Because an appraiser will find it very hard to evaluate that building. Appraising uses many comparisons. In this case, the appraisal might not be reliable, and lenders might reject that property as collateral. So, if no similar buildings are nearby, lenders (banks or other financing institutions) may refuse to finance your property. Any real estate agent would find your property very challenging in this case.

Things change entirely if you work as an LLC or incorporate yourself and transform a larger property into apartments for sale or rent. A simple Google search will reveal many success stories across the country.

So, how much does a warehouse conversion cost? Expect to pay between $100 and $250 per square foot. Many factors are involved, so the only way to keep costs down is to clearly explain your ideas and find the best design and functionality with your architect.

The Legalities of Converting a Warehouse into a Living Space

Before you read on, answer the following questions honestly: do you have what it takes to become a real estate investor, and do you really want to convert a warehouse into a home? Here are the legal issues you need to consider:

Obtaining permits:

Converting a warehouse into a home starts with homework. The space you are looking at must be zoned to allow residential use, or special zoning variances or permits must be obtained.

Budget: 

Then, you need money. The warehouse conversion cost may not seem high from a distance, but it’s usually more than you’ve had in mind. It is doubtful that you can find a mortgage for your project. You’ll probably have to provide a different property as collateral; if you can’t, try to team up with a high-net-worth individual or a larger real estate investment trust.

Consider crowdfunding: 

Another shot in the dark could be crowdfunding. It sounds weird, but you could meet a few brave, like-minded investors if the building has upside potential. Even a real estate broker could be interested in investing in a warehouse transformation! Be prepared to knock on many doors!

Apply for grants: 

Some warehouse spaces may qualify for historic preservation grants, special tax increment funding (TIF), or urban redevelopment grants. You may even be able to form a limited liability partnership (LLC) or incorporate yourself to take advantage of such benefits – an attorney can help you find out what would be required. Using “green” materials and energy systems can provide extra tax credits and incentives.

Is it worth converting a warehouse into a loft?

urban industrial style office

When considering converting a warehouse into a loft living space, you might wonder if warehouses can be money-making investments. Due to the variation in locations, property sizes, and project scopes, it can be difficult to determine precise statistics regarding the value of turning warehouses into apartments; however, some general facts and trends provide insight into the possible benefits and level of demand in the market.

A National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey states that investors and homebuyers find adaptive reuse projects – such as warehouse conversions – more appealing. According to the study, properties with distinctive features – like remodeled industrial spaces – usually go off the market faster than conventional houses. This points to a possible increase in the demand for unusual living arrangements and a boost to their resale value.

According to an Urban Land Institute study, adaptive reuse projects frequently exceed conventional residential complexes regarding property value appreciation. The same research indicates that when compared to new construction, adaptive reuse projects – such as warehouse conversions – typically yield a profit per square foot of 10%. The study emphasizes the possibility of higher property values when converting existing structures – including warehouses – into residential areas, even though it covers a variety of adaptive reuse strategies. 

It’s important to remember, though, that a warehouse conversion project’s likelihood of success depends mainly on elements like location and the status of the real estate market as a whole. According to research from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, adaptive reuse initiatives tend to do better in established neighborhoods or places being revitalized. 

These patterns and insights offer helpful views for people thinking about warehouse conversions, even though they do not offer a one-size-fits-all solution. Prospective converters should consult real estate experts for guidance, carry out in-depth market research tailored to their area, and carefully assess the prospective return on investment (ROI) in light of the particulars of their project.

Trendy loft design ideas

white home interior sofa armchair

Regarding loft designs, here are some ideas that might interest you if you plan to convert a warehouse into your dream home.

Vertical loft designs

When considering converting a warehouse into a home, a vertical apartment is an excellent project for tall warehouses if you plan to create a loft without walls and different levels forming a continuous space. A vertical apartment creates a modular system that integrates kitchen appliances, bookshelves, walk-in closets, and anything else you might require. 

A spacious area allows for creating apartments with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, and big spaces allow for creative decor. You can go with bright, open spaces with beautiful interior designs, bold accents, and vibrant colors. This idea will turn the empty cold room of a warehouse into an inviting home with contemporary and industrial influences.

Story building loft designs

Warehouses located in 10-story buildings are not uncommon, and converting such a warehouse into a home allows for some creativity. Such homes benefit from panoramic views, and the interior design creates open spaces that serve as a relaxing getaway. Large windows and an internal structure with organized spaces as overlapping zones maintain a sense of openness. This, combined with terraces, creates a robust indoor-outdoor relationship.

Aiming toward simplicity and minimalism, you can create a space that impresses with its abstract beauty. A house topped with neutral colors or combinations of white and gray creates a great sense of openness and freshness. This beautiful balance between functionality and style makes the place very inviting.

Open-floor loft design

staircase dining table open floww

Since many warehouses don’t have separate rooms or a clear separation between areas, building an open-floor apartment is a great idea. Why bother separating rooms with floor-to-ceiling walls when you can implement an open concept for more space? Converting a warehouse into a loft living space lets you be creative with your design for an open floor plan.

Think of this design as a way to use large spaces and minimize using small, cluttered rooms in your home. A half-wall separation between a kitchen and a living room is still considered an open concept, and there is so much more you can do to improve it. Tall ceilings with large windows that lead up to the roof can visually elevate and open up space. Consider some open stairs if you plan to create extra living space on another floor above, but leave it open so you have a nice view from the main floor and above. With this setup, you can start getting creative with your interior design to achieve your dream living space.

Loft designs with neutral colors and soft elements

With an open-floor design and plenty of space, a kitchen might stand in full view as you enter the main living area, and the space can feel cold and hollow. To prevent that, keep things neutral and add warm elements for an inviting living space. A tight, neutral color scheme ensures an easy flow through the apartment, and integrated appliances prevent distractions. For a sleek aesthetic, go for floating shelves and choose materials that won’t distract the eye.

Spaces can feel inviting if we fill them with warm and soft pieces. Consider adding plush rugs, rounded items, or a touch of nature through plants to make it appealing and welcoming. Avoid overhead cabinets that could make the place look distracting and bulky.

Amazing examples of warehouse-into-home transformations

before and after man using paint roller

Essex Mill, Phoenix Mill, and Florence Mill

News of warehouse makeovers that resulted in comfortable housing facilities became headlines in the New York Times as early as 1981, when many mills (nail factories, textile plants, and the like) throughout the Northeast had undergone rehabilitation. Hundreds of new apartments had flooded the market. Essex Mill, Phoenix Mill, and Florence Mill are just a few examples from the past that still inspire young and daring entrepreneurs.

Caraleigh Mills

Most recent projects host more upscale residential communities. For example, Caraleigh Mills in downtown Raleigh is now a selective condominium community – a city within a city that spoils its residents with a private gym and pool, game room, dog park, and a generous parking lot. Homes feature very high ceilings, beautiful tall arched windows, exposed brick walls, and some condos even have a private entrance from the outside!

Citrix

Raleigh was also the choice of Florida tech giant Citrix. The state-of-the-art headquarters are located in the old Dillon Supply steel warehouse. This is another excellent way of turning a useless warehouse into usable office spaces that many proudly call their workplace.

Pershing Hill Lofts

Going Northwest, Pershing Hill Lofts is leasing 62 luxurious lofts in the Warehouse Historic District of Davenport. Nonconforming buyers can live on Crescent Electric Co.’s former headquarters’ premises and pay between $800 and $2,240 monthly.

Stadium Lofts, Rocky Mountain Warehouse, S.H. Supply

More to the West, we find that lofts are a prevalent type of dwelling in Denver. After the warehouses in Lower Downtown were transformed into apartments in the early 1990s, similar projects can be found in all the neighborhoods of Denver: Stadium Lofts, Rocky Mountain Warehouse, S.H. Supply (former parking lot/downtown parking garage), Hardware Block Lofts, and many more.

The American Tobacco Historic Campus

But a lot of creative effort has been invested in one of the most fantastic warehouse conversions located in Durham – The American Tobacco Historic Campus. The backbone of Durham’s economy now provides an astounding living environment with landscaped gardens and a man-made river. It spreads across one million square feet. Here was the American Tobacco Manufacturing plant, built in 1874.

Golden Belt campus

LRC Properties was also attracted to Durham and now owns the entire Golden Belt campus. The new owners want to gentrify this historic textile mill with apartments and office spaces, a music hall, an exhibition center, and some fancy craft beer experiments.

Other noteworthy projects would be:

  • Publisher’s Print Shop in San Francisco
  • 13th Avenue Loft in  Portland
  • The Lucky Strike Warehouse in San Francisco
  • Chelsea Warehouse in New York

Conclusion

If you have ever been searching for a new home on the housing market, chances are you could not find one that perfectly matched your tastes and style. Building a home from the ground up can be a way to attain your dream home, but the costs might be more than you can afford. However, if you have yet to consider converting a warehouse into a home, this strategy can be a game-changer for your homeownership plans.

Having such a large area to work with allows room for creativity, and you can put your own spin on things. Out-of-the-box ideas can complement the interior design, and with minimum costs, you can turn the loft into the living space of your dreams. Here, you can find everything you need about loft conversions, including costs, design, and many others.

Tell us about your loft living space, and share your opinion on converting a warehouse into a loft in the comments section below! Don’t hesitate to share this content with your friends and family on social media.

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4 Responses to " Converting a Warehouse into a Loft Living Space "

  1. Loft and Insulation says:

    Wow. Nice post. Thank you.

  2. Janine Smith says:

    Post is very useful. Thank you for this useful information.

  3. Shelter4GreenDeal says:

    Such an interesting piece. Thank you for creating this article

  4. Sandra Wood says:

    Hello – I love this article – it is now almost 2 years since it was published, and I am wondering if you or anyone you know are working in this type of real estate in Toronto, especially in the east end, East York, Leslieville, Beaches?

    Thanks for any help,

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