Building Conversion is one of the fastest growing trends in commercial real estate today. There has been an overall decrease in building construction over the past 15 years. This trend is occurring because of two major factors: a lack of qualified professionals and/or labor, and the high cost of materials. In addition, it is because the supply of skilled trades has diminished (there is far more supply of roofers than there are people to do the work). Building conversion has been increasing for many reasons, but perhaps the most important reason is the increasing cost of labor and materials.
Building conversion has been increasing because of an increase in business development due to population growth. As an increasing number of families decide to live in multi-unit dwellings, land developers have increasingly turned to building conversion to spruce up their developments. Building conversion is an affordable option for improving the look and feel of the property and for making it more appealing to prospective buyers. Building adaptation projects can include rehabbing, remodeling, or a combination of adaptive services that all add value to a property.
There are many different options available to businesses and property owners who wish to convert their buildings to other uses. The three primary types of conversion include residential use, non-residential use, and mixed-use/other. Residential use includes changing the use of a building from residential to non-residential use. Non-residential use often includes converting an existing structure into a business facility or retail shop. And mixed-use/other structures are used for any combination of residential and non-residential use.
One of the key issues involved in building conversion is the determination of the zoning classification of an existing building. Building classification is based on the proposed use of the land, the surrounding landscape, and the adjacent structures and features such as roads and utilities. Zoning also takes into consideration the anticipated traffic flow on the site as well as any proposed setbacks. If the project will have heavy pedestrian traffic or increased truck traffic, certain types of outdoor lighting may need to be installed or alterations made to accommodate these pedestrian traffic and drivers. All of this must be considered when converting an existing building.
Another issue that must be resolved before converting an existing building involves the compatibility of the planned use with existing electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, heating, and other essential systems. In most cases, the electrical, heating, and plumbing systems are incorporated into the exterior and interior design of the building. Converting a commercial building to a residential purpose or non-residential purpose requires a permit. Obtaining a permit is often a lengthy and complex process.
The majority of commercial buildings are in fairly good repair and do not require major renovations in order to be converted into either a commercial or residential purpose. However, there are certain types of commercial structures that do require significant renovations. For example, if the property is being converted from a single tenant office to two or more offices, the interior walls, doors, windows, stairs, and other structural components must be altered or replaced in order to make the spaces suitable for both residential and/or commercial use. In addition, a building that is to be converted for residential use must often incorporate features such as a back yard, patio, landscaping, fire pit, gazebo, etc., which make it much more attractive to both tenants and owners. There are many factors that must be taken into consideration before converting a property.
Many people are reluctant to commit to large-scale renovation projects, especially those that involve demolishing an existing building. Demolition can be a messy and time-consuming process and can sometimes cause damage to the surrounding property. This is why many owners opt for a more modest renovation project which involves simply adding a few different rooms or repairing roofing, exterior brick walls, installing new appliances, adding carpeting, and making small aesthetic changes. While this may not seem much to a property owner, the added value and aesthetic appeal of historic building conversions can make the project much easier and faster to complete.
Zoning requirements are an important part of any residential conversion. The specific regulations and requirements vary by city, county and state. Make sure that your local zoning authority is aware of any restrictions that may apply to your proposed project. You should also ensure that your local laws allow you to perform the proposed changes. If not, you should look into whether there are applicable zoning ordinances in your area that would allow you to proceed with your project.