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Can you convert office buildings into apartments?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2023 | Uncategorized |

In some cases, investors and property owners are interested in completing conversions. They may be able to buy a building that is in disrepair, or at least in disuse, and turn it into something that is in high demand.

For instance, in part because many workers are committed to working from home, a lot of office buildings are sitting empty. Many billionaire investors in office spaces have been filing for bankruptcy or defaulting on their loans. They invested in these office buildings that few companies need anymore, and some of their tenants – such as Twitter’s Elon Musk – have been failing to make the rent payments.

This reality has caused some people to suggest that housing shortages could be solved simply by turning these unnecessary office buildings into apartments. Is that a viable solution?

Zoning issues

One potential issue to consider is that a particular building may not be zoned for that type of use. Some buildings are certainly zoned for both residential and commercial use, but a lot are either subject to one zone or the other. If a building is zoned only for commercial use, it cannot be turned into homes or apartments without a variance.

Conversion issues

On top of that, there are often major issues with converting a building simply because of the way that it may have been constructed. For example, there are major differences between the types of concrete slabs used in apartment buildings and those used in offices. There are also differences in plumbing, as offices usually have a central bathroom and apartments would need bathrooms in every unit. Therefore, a conversion would mean essentially re-plumbing and re-wiring the entire building, not simply declaring that these offices are now to be used as apartments.

Real estate issues like these can have a major impact on how someone invests in property. Those involved need to know what options they have and what legal hurdles they may encounter as they seek to move forward.