Tips for Warehouse Conversions
Are you looking at converting a warehouse space for living? Lucky you! No doubt it's a big project with lots of challenges, but with the services of a reputable architect or building designer, there's not much that can't be overcome.
It's so easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying, but here are four things you should think about first.
How will you heat and cool the space?
Let's face it, warehouses are built for functionality over comfort, and they can be baking hot in Summer and freezing in Winter. Do you have capacity to install under-floor heating? Insulate the ceiling or walls, without losing the warehouse look? Can you create internal rooms that can be closed off and heated or cooled individually? Can you plant a green roof, a green wall, or install large established trees for shade?
How will you light the space?
Sodium lighting is fine for work but less than flattering in the domestic context. Can you add bunker lights to the walls? Utilise lamps in key areas, e.g. next to the sofa? If you've got a very high ceiling (lucky you again), can you run track lighting at a lower height, or install pendant lighting on very long cables? Create a lighting plan as part of your floor plan to make sure you'll be covered.
Pictured: Three warehouses in Maylands, none of which is currently being converted by me. Sadly.
How will you create privacy?
Yes, studio style lofts in New York look great in the movies, but how does that work when guests arrive? You'll need to find a way to create private bedroom and bathroom spaces. Before you buy, consider whether you can do so without losing the warehouse charm. Is there a mezzanine level? Can you build a room around a natural dividing point, like a pillar or doorway? What materials is the warehouse built from, and will you try to make your additions blend in or stand on their own design merits?
Are there hidden traps?
This is the biggie! Industrial spaces can harbour all sorts of nasties, and you may find yourself forking out $$$ to fix them. Be prepared before you buy. Look for asbestos, obviously bad wiring, beams or walls that have rusted out, damaged brick and mortar. Check for surprises like pits (has the place housed a mechanic? What about machinery?), oil or chemicals absorbed in to concrete floors, and investigate whether the plumbing and phone connections are reliable. Is the building heritage listed? (If it's a brick factory that housed a significant business, it could be!) What's the zoning on the neighbouring properties? Are there plans to redevelop them? Are the businesses next door noisy, smelly, or dusty? What is the parking like?
So many things to consider! Please, don't let this put you off a warehouse conversion. We love warehouse conversions. But go in to it with your eyes wide open! (And send us photos once you're done, we'd love to see it!)