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Has anyone built/converted their own loft from a commercial space?

post #1 of 3
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So I'm moving soon and going to get a short-term apartment or house rental.

However, pretty soon I'll probably be looking to buy something more permanent. The city has a lot of empty commercial space near downtown, and I want to research the idea of doing a loft setup. Where can I find out about this. Will the property have to be rezoned for residential or mixed-use? Are FHA loans available for 'homebuyers' since it's a commercial property? What are some common pitfalls in converting a commercial space into a loft? They can't all end up as beautiful and awesome as they do on television/in magazines.
post #2 of 3
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Originally Posted by crazyquik View Post
So I'm moving soon and going to get a short-term apartment or house rental.

However, pretty soon I'll probably be looking to buy something more permanent. The city has a lot of empty commercial space near downtown, and I want to research the idea of doing a loft setup. Where can I find out about this. Will the property have to be rezoned for residential or mixed-use? Are FHA loans available for 'homebuyers' since it's a commercial property? What are some common pitfalls in converting a commercial space into a loft? They can't all end up as beautiful and awesome as they do on television/in magazines.

As to mortgages: hardly any traditional mortgage will be granted to a property zoned commercial. You'll need to get up close and personal with a private banker and get them sold on the idea, but will probably pay a rate 2-3% higher than prevailing mortgages, and a shorter term. You might be better off going to the municipality to apply a mixed-use zoning, allowing commercial and residential under the same roof; that should open the conventional mortgage market to you. Probably not FHA, though, so you'll need more down payment and a higher credit score.

The pitfalls are all very expensive. An architect friend of mine has done several rehabs here and even now he kicks himself in the ass for underestimating the money the things seem to soak up. His first project he was in partnership with one the richest dudes in our city. Half way through the rich guy bailed on the deal because he was afraid the black hole had no bottom!

Go slow. It can be done, but it has been the ruin of many a young man.
post #3 of 3
I imagine one of the largest obstacles anywhere in the south is energy efficiency, so you aren't sweating your balls off half the year or paying absurd electrical costs. The only way I'd undertake a loft project for personal use would be in a very moderate climate.

Older buildings may require asbestos removal with any renovation - this is absurdly expensive.
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