Converting home to Apartments

Hi Everyone,
I’m not new here, but it had been so long since I last posted I had to re-register to ask some advice.
We have found a potential deal on a large house here in Marietta, GA. The house is in a neighborhood zoned single family residential. The house is large…2 levels of 2200 square feet plus full basement. Most houses in this neighborhood average only 1200 sq feet with crawl space. My question is: How difficult would it be to get this property cleared to be able to convert this to a 5 Unit Apartment home? Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.

I assume from the square footage that there will be a lot of common areas as 440 sq ft/ unit isn’t enough to fit much. In most places you can’t have official bedrooms in the basement unless there is an acceptable alternate egress from each one directly to the outside.

I frequently change the zoning on commercial properties. Before I consider it, I think to myself, “Does it make sense given the location and building?” If it does, changing the zoning usually isn’t a big deal as long as your ideas are conceivable to the commissioners. So if your idea makes sense, you shouldn’t have any huge trouble. You might want to check the current zoning allowances to see if you can convert the building to a multiunit as is. That wouldn’t be uncommon.

You’d definately have to check with the zoning board to see if they’ll let you do it. Around here, one street could be zoned for single family, another street one over could be zoned for multifamily. If it’s already zoned for multifamily, you’d have no problems doing it, you may just need to file the plans and do the paperwork. If it’s not zoned for that, you’d probably have to get a variance from the board and then the neighbors could fight you on it for various reasons.

Also if you can do it, just make it a 3 or 4 family max. It’s hard to get financing for anything more than 4 units as it’s a commercial property and those rates are much higher. You would have difficulty selling. Also two families are easier to get financing on than 3 or 4, but they all still qualify for residential rates.

Thanks Henry and Danny for the advice. I guess my next step is to check the Cobb County zoning office, find someone helpful and see what my chances are of getting a variance. The House actually has 4400 square feet of non-basement space, so a four-plex plan would be about right. We could easily put a fifth apartment downstairs as it has walk-in access, but I wasn’t aware of the financing issue…Thanks for that tip.

So it’s 2,200 sq ft on each level, gotcha! The property’s current zoning might allow for a multi-unit building and you might not need a variance. Often times around my area I find SFHs with “R-4” or “R-5” zoning which would mean residential- 4 or 5 units. Of course every area has their own zoning codes so you’d have to check that possibility out.

First, check to see what the “as of right” zoning is. It might be zoned for higher than SFH. While most of the homes where I live is SFH, it’s zoned for 2 family, and higher building to land ratio.

As other mentioned, you’ll need a variance from the zoning board if it exceeds current zoning. Where I am, it requires a public hearing where neighbors could object.

Where I live, what you’re proposing would evoke strenuous opposition from the neighbors because of traffic and parking issues. A local Mercedes dealer could not get a variance to have a parking lot built on a vacant piece of property lying between a commercial and residential zoned. He tried several times in the last 15 years that I knew of.

In the last round, he invited all the neigbors, myself included, for coffee, and asked for support. But it was turned down in the next variance meeting anyway.

I got a SFH, and my tenant mentioned he had a problem in his last residence after the owner across the street converted a SFH to a 2 family, and suddenly, it went from 2 cars, to 6 cars for the residents living there, PLUS all of the parking from visitors.

His visitors got no parking in front of his house, and he’s really steamed.

The neighbors retaliated by calling code enforecement on every little thing. I always try not to rile up the neighbors when I do rentals.