I was scanning deals today and noticed a single family property that I thought might be a good candidate to have a seemingly redundant living room converted to a studio apartment. Can anyone provide some advice about this kind of conversion and how cheaply/simply it can be accomplished? For example, I imagine I could go as far as creating an entirely separate kitchen and bathroom for the studio unit and its own exterior door, but could I do as little as locking off the living room as separate quarters with the existing living spaces, kitchen and bathrooms as shared areas? And does a studio space like this need to have a separate exterior door?
Are there established rules about what constitutes a real studio apartment versus just advertising rooms available in a house? Or is this all grey area and up to the comfort level of tenants?
Just trying to get creative with maximizing rental income possibilities without being a slumlord.
First, check zoning and see if its allowed at all. Then call the zoning department and building department (usually two separate departments) and discuss the SPECIFIC property with them. Find out the relevant codes that would apply.
Then, you need to look at those applicable codes. They dictate minimum sizes and other specifications for dwellings. Those are the minimum, so next you would want to investigate similar properties in the area to what you would build. Those are your competition.
You certainly do not want one tenant to have to put up with another tenant traipsing through entering and existing their unit. So, IMHO, a separate entrance is mandatory. In one area I have property, a very common floor plan has two beds, bath, kitchen and living room on the ground floor, along with a one car garage. The garage is on one end, and there is a staircase that goes into the basement, between the garage and the rest of the house. You get to that staircase from the kitchen. It also usually has an exterior doorway at the top of the stairs. Sorry, hard to describe. From the top of the basement stairs, you can go outside, to the kitchen, to the garage, or down to the basement. Many of these have had the basement converted into a (usually illegal) second unit. They do it by walling off the door between the stairs and kitchen. So you end up with a 2/1/0 upstairs and a 2/1/1 downstairs.
You will also want to think about separation of utilities. Electric isn't usually too bad, but gas, water and sewer can be more troublesome.
I like the creative thinking,
@Mike Nuss might have a few nuggets of wisdom on this
@Jon Holdman thanks so much for the insightful response. Zoning, codes, tenant expectations... that's exactly what I wanted to know. -Keith