Making a Home in a Former Shop

Bike Outside an Old-Fashioned Shop
Added on June 7th 2016

Making a Home in a Former Shop
After the recession the UK has many vacant commercial properties for sale. Home-buyers looking for a bargain are stepping into this breach, as commercial property prices are often lower than residential. There are, however, a few things to consider before you go eyeing up that deserted-looking ex-chippy…

Hidden costs
You look at that ex-chippy and calculate the costs of making it more homely. You might think it’ll be no more than your average renovation, but there may be additional building requirements that you need to meet, as you’re turning a commercial property into a residence. Find out about these and factor them into your calculations.

Easy access
Commercial properties are often in town centres – this means traffic and parking problems. You could find your perfect property only to have to park ten minutes’ walk away. Ask your local council what the deal with driving and parking is.

You might also have to share an entrance with the busy coffee shop next door. This is OK when you’re on your way to work, but not so great at weekends. It may also affect what you can do when it comes to remodelling.

Changing the frontage
New legislation has made it easier to convert a shop to a dwelling, but only for interiors. You’ll still have to apply for planning permission to make any external changes and you will, if you’re in a historic part of town, have to maintain the same “look” as the surrounding buildings. This may involve specialist materials which could increase your costs.

The area
Living in a town centre is handy for shops, pubs and the train station, but it can be noisy! If you can see any other residential properties nearby, ask the owners what it’s like at night, early mornings, and weekends.

Waiting
Many local councils will only allow a commercial property to be changed to a residential one if the owner can prove it’s not selling as a business property. This may mean a six-to-twelve month wait while it languishes on the market. Are you prepared to wait with your fingers crossed?

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