Can I Convert A Warehouse Into A Home?


Answer for "Can I convert a warehouse into a home?"

Karen Sims real estate agent
  Weichert Realtors

Not only can one convert a warehouse into a home, but many people have been doing just that. Converting a warehouse into a loft living space is actually kind of a trend which started back in the 1960’s when New York bohemians in SoHo noticed they could take advantage of the low-priced high ceiling warehouses to make awesome homes/workshops/party places.

In fact, much of the modern New York interior look with its industrial concrete floor, brick wall and vanilla shell spirit dates back to this discovery of converting warehouses into homes.

Although easy on the eyes, there are a lot of things you should be aware of when converting a warehouse into a home. And most of them are due to the fact that a warehouse and a home are each built with a specific – not to say conflicting –purpose. The logic behind the functions of one is ill-fitted for the other. For instance: warehouses might not even have the proper sewage installations since it can be basically a place for object storages.

The biggest hurdles when it comes to converting a warehouse into a home, however, seems to be concerning lighting and insulation of noise and heat. Warehouses rarely need windows but who can live with no natural light coming in? And how can you have that when most warehouses share their walls with other warehouses? That’s where a great architect comes in. A lot of people that convert warehouses into homes have been using atriums as a way to bring natural light in, and also build upper floors within the warehouse with a big window and, sometimes, when that’s possible, even a balcony.

Regarding the sound insulation, the worry is not so much about the outside noise coming in. The open-plan style layout of warehouses forces owners to learn how to reduce noise pollution so that they can do mundane things like listening to the TV in the bedroom without being bothered by the noise coming from a blender in the kitchen. People converting warehouses into homes must figure out the best layouts and placement for their furniture and the best materials/fabrics for each chair, sofas etc. so they can make a sound (sorry for the pun) difference with their noise production.

Now, heat insulation is probably the biggest worry of someone who’s converting a warehouse into a home. Sometimes you are lucky to bump into a warehouse that used to hold perishable products. Those ones will have better heat insulation than regular homes, probably. But most of the times the warehouse will do a horrible job with the heat. You will sweat your socks during the summer and freeze during the winter.

Oh, yes, if you are not a fan of bureaucracy, strap in because the change of use to the building – from commercial to residential or for “mixed-use” – can be a wild ride. The zoning is possibly the biggest most important obstacle here. Do not think it’s a good idea to just let the warehouse insurance act as your homeowner’s insurance; you need to let zoning authorities and the insurance company know that you are going to be living in that warehouse. In the case of an accident, when investigating the claim they will easily discover you were living in it (with the wrong zoning and insurance policy) and you will get zero damages covered.

But hopefully, that will not happen! Hopefully, you’ve realized that such a cool thing like converting a warehouse into a home requires the professional help of a real estate agent and you’ll contact one of them so you can get all the permits and cover yourself with the proper insurance etc. Otherwise, sorry, but it will be such a nightmare that maybe it’s better to change the answer to “can I convert a warehouse into a home” to a short and sweet: yes, but you shouldn’t.


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