A quickly growing trend in the highly competitive housing market involves converting commercial real estate space into residential living quarters. Warehouses are ideal for this kind of conversion, with huge open floor plans and high ceilings. The space can readily be split up to form separate “rooms”, a partial second floor can be built for a private sleeping area, or the entire space simply left open and remodeled to create a large loft style apartment.
The Legalities of Converting a Warehouse into Living Space
Converting a warehouse into a loft living space 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. Plumbing, electrical, and ventilation work will also require permits, and inspection after the build to ensure they all meet local codes.
Some warehouses spaces may qualify for historical 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.
The Practicalities of Warehouse to Loft Conversion
A floor plan should be created to help determine how the space is used. If plumbing must be installed, having the lavatory and the kitchen on the same end of the space will be less expensive than having to install plumbing in two different sections of the area. While you will certainly want to frame out a bathroom to afford yourself privacy, the rest of the loft 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 up simple, and you can install an attractive spiral staircase for easy access. A balcony railing will prevent accidental falls, and afford the occupant a clear view of the downstairs.
Decorating your Converted Warehouse Loft
Warehouses may have existing wood flooring, but concrete is more likely. Install wood or tile over concrete, or clean and pane it, then cover 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 will be more energy efficient.
If you do your research and get realistic cost estimates first, a warehouse to loft conversion could provide you with an inexpensive, long term home!
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