Construction Tips: Convert Single Family House Into Multi Family House

A guide to converting single family housing into multiple family housing. Learn how to help turn a residential home into an income producing property.

Investing in real estate on a long term basis has historically been a terrific financial decision. In most parts of the country housing values have far outstripped inflation. While the vast majority of people who buy a house only purchase a primary residence, others seek to make additional investments in real estate. One great way to make a house a source of direct cash flow is to convert a single family residence into multiple family housing.

After you've purchased a single family home and decided to convert it into rental housing, make sure you investigate local laws and consult with your regional government. Consider hiring a lawyer specializing in real estate to make the process easier. When dealing with local government officials, make sure you get everything in writing.

The single most important thing to remember when starting a project of this nature is to make sure you have the necessary permits far in advance. While many contractors will obtain them for you, not all do. You should take it upon yourself to do this. Permits are extremely important because without them any project can be dismantled at a moment's notice by local authorities. You don't want to install a beautiful new kitchen or an additional bath only to find yourself in violation of local zoning laws.

Once you've found out exactly what you can do to the home the second choice you need to make is decide how many apartments the house should hold. While laws differ from place to place, nearly every apartment will require a kitchen, a full bathroom, a closet and at least one room. A single room apartment is considered a studio. A one bedroom apartment contains another room for sleeping. A two bedroom consists of at least three rooms. Unless you have a large apartment complex, avoid creating apartments larger than two bedrooms. Think carefully before you decide to make larger apartments. In most cases the extra bedroom will not bring in significantly more rent money. Extra bedrooms tend to attract renters with larger families. A small landlord often lacks the resources to provide amenities such as playgrounds that help keep children happy and out of trouble.

Another good rule of thumb is to avoid more than two apartments per floor. Housing that has been used as single family home will rarely have enough interior space to compensate for the additional hall space necessary. Attics and basements should generally be restricted to only one apartment because they rarely have enough window and stair space to make more than one usable apartment. If you don't have any training in housing design, think about hiring an architect. For a small fee many design professionals will work with you to create a multi-family house that will attract and keep satisfied tenants.

Once you've decided exactly how many apartments you want and where they should go, the next step is to decide who does the conversion work. Do you want to do it yourself or hire a professional contractor? Doing it yourself can help you save money and give you more direct control over the project. On the other hand if you have no building experience you run the risk of making serious mistakes that may prove costly to correct. If you have an area of expertise such as painting or a cousin who owns you a favor and happens to be a licensed plumber you can save money by doing that part yourself. But otherwise you're better off hiring someone with experience. Contractors may be able to get you materials at a discount so that alone may cover the cost of their services.

In addition to converting the interior space you should also take a good look at the exterior space of the property. In most areas, more people equal more cars. Do you have enough space to accommodate them? Onsite parking is a valued perk in many areas of the country and can lead to higher rents. You may want to sacrifice a small part of the house's lot and add a few parking spots. This is another decision where consultation with local government officials is very important. Many communities have strict rules about how much space per lot can be allotted to cars and a main residence. If the single family house you own is in a predominantly single family housing market, proving onsite parking for tenants is a particularly good idea. Neighbors will grateful that the supply of parking spaces remains unaffected by the conversion.

With a little bit of luck and the right help from knowledgeable professionals, the process of converting a single family house into a multiple family house should be effortless and financially rewarding.

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