Apartment Renovations When You’re Buying the Space Next Door

Apartment renovations related to buying the apartment next to the one you currently own require a lot of time and thought before the first wall is knocked down. Read on to find out what you need to think about before making two become one.

Apartment renovations related to buying the adjoining apartment to yours may seem like a smart idea, but there are several things you need to consider before you raise that sledgehammer. You already know that you have to obtain the proper board and Department of Building permissions, but you should also keep the following in mind.

Check with Your Bank or Mortgage Company

Getting a mortgage for one apartment is hard enough. Getting one for a knock-through second apartment can be even more challenging, so if you need to take out a mortgage to buy the second space, make sure that the terms of the new deal are ones you can sustain. You’ll probably need to refinance your existing mortgage so that the loan can cover both apartments. Everyone’s financial situation is different, so this is a situation that really needs a financial advisor’s heavy duty calculator all over it.

Work with an Architect

The rooms that abut each other in the two apartments will go a lot towards determining how the ultimate layout will work. Bedrooms from two different apartments that line up alongside each other are easy to break through and combine into larger space, while a kitchen that abuts a bedroom will probably need to be gutted in order to make sense on paper. Before starting your apartment renovations, check with your building to find out if there are wet-over-dry rules. Wet over dry simply means that the baths in a building have to be over baths, and the kitchens have to sit over kitchens. If your renovation has the kitchen or bath sitting outside of this alignment, you’ll need to obtain board approval.

Make Sure It Makes Financial Sense

Sit down with your financial advisor, and figure out if it makes more sense to buy an adjoining apartment in order to increase the size of your space instead of simply buying a larger apartment in the building. The jump in price from one to two or from two to three bedrooms can seem prohibitive, while the costs involved in adding a studio or one bedroom to your footprint may feel within financial reach. On the flip side, the renovation costs associated with converting two apartments into one, coupled with increased maintenance fees (you’ll have to pay the maintenance for both spaces, even when the unit is combined), may end up costing you a lot more than you realize. Crunch the numbers before moving forward.

Creating a Duplex Usually Costs More

On paper, it costs a lot more to make a duplex than it does to join side-by-side apartments. Creating a duplex includes costs like tearing through a ceilings and floors, and adding staircases. Those costs are in addition to all your other renovation costs.

Identify Structural Walls

Nothing would be more heartbreaking than discovering that the wall that separates the two apartments is a structural wall. You’ll either have to spend a huge amount of money to resolve the issue, or you’ll have to forget about combining the apartments.

Think to the Future

Make sure that the layout you create makes sense for not only you but for future buyers. If you’re building an elaborate game room complete with special built-ins and crazy entrances, be aware that you may have a hard time selling the space in the future. Don’t cut off positives.

Image Source: Flickr/Alan Lam

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