Converting commercial property into residential living space is all the rage in the postmodern era. There are several elements to consider if you endeavor to undertake such a task. Find out more about converting industrial space into residential property here.

Find Out If You’ll Be Allowed to Convert the Property

Before you get to the design phase of an industrial space, you need to know if you’re able to purchase and alter it in the first place. There are local zoning and housing codes that you will need to investigate before going any further with your plans. Online resources are a great tool to find out about local codes and zoning requirements and it would be beneficial as well to schedule a meeting with a county clerk. If zoning allows for residential, you can do an “As Of Right” conversion. If zoning won’t allow for residential, you have 3 options—one- forget about converting it to residential and keep it commercial; two- apply for a Zoning Variance which is a “hall pass” to do something that, technically, is not allowed under the law or, three- request rezoning, which unfortunately presents a poor outlook for success.


Another thing you must consider is that commercial and residential properties have different structural requirements. You have to ensure the industrial space meets residential code requirements, otherwise, you may need to address such things as ADA accessibility, electrical, plumbing, means of egress, elevators, and a fire alarm/fire suppression system before you can proceed with the more decorative aspects of the building.

Cost Considerations

Of course, this is one of the most important elements you’ll need to go through with a fine-tooth comb as you begin to imagine the aesthetic possibilities of the industrial space you are considering. You’ll need to choose what designers you will collaborate with and which construction companies you’ll contract to get the work done. They should be familiar with International Residential Code (IRC) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requirements. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere between $35 to $250/sq. ft.


Another thing to consider with the cost of converting an industrial space is the amount of time between submitting an application and filing for permits and their approval. This, plus the rezoning process, can take weeks to months so keep in mind any holding costs you may accumulate.

Consider Your Surroundings

Not only will you need to take the building itself into consideration, but the exterior environment as well. What’s the traffic like in the area? Too much vehicle congestion could make it difficult to show prospective tenants your newly renovated industrial space. Also, what’s the vibe, in general, of the surrounding area? Does it draw people in or will an entire block(s) need to be rejuvenated?

Planning Your Space

Create a floor plan. Consider functionality as well as aesthetics. Will this be a single-occupancy space or will it house multiple tenants? What about multiple stories? If multi-storied, will you have a staircase, an elevator, or both? How will you lay out the kitchens and bathrooms so that they make sense with how the plumbing is configured? Consider visual elements such as flooring—wood, tile, concrete, area rugs? What kind of walls do you want, bare concrete or brick? Are you going to go with some form of coverings such as drywall, plaster, or paneling? How about the ceilings? Would you like exposed beams, which can be more energy-efficient, or drywall or acoustic tile, which is less striking but can reduce cavernous noise? What color scheme will you settle on? Bright and vibrant? Warm and harmonious? Dark and rich? These, along with many other elements, will need to be discussed with your chosen designer(s) and contractor(s) and it is beneficial to have some idea of what you want to do in these areas before moving forward with the purchase.


Are you looking for industrial space to convert into a residential living space in the Carolinas or Virginia? Give Schwarz Properties a call at (336) 625-6076 today!