Building a house

4 Replies

I currently own a multifamily house on a double lot in Brooklyn NY. I'm thinking I would like to build another multifamily in the adjoining lot but I'm hearing from a lot of people that it may be more of a headache than it's worth. Has anyone ever built a rental from scratch and how was the experience?

Hi @Brian Kehoe

We are experienced developers and have done just that.  Assuming you have the proper zoning and lot dimensions it is definitely possible however not the simplest process for a novice to take on by themselves.  Navigating NYC building regulations and code enforcement exhausting and very frustrating especially if you plan to GC your build.  If you have no experience building then i would hire an experience builder/general contractor to do the job for you, this will save you a lot of aggravation and frustration however it will cost you more.

A few things to consider

- How do you intend to pay for the development?  Do you have the money or are you going to take out a construction loan?  If you're taking out a construction loan you will definitely need to go with an experienced GC

- Expect the subdivision, plan approval and development process to realistically take 18-24 months.  There will be others who will tell you that it will be shorter but DOB is very busy and moving very slow with permits and approvals even when using an expediter.

- Have you considered subdividing the land and selling it to an experienced developer?  Thus us a faster way to make a profit and will cost less money, time and aggravation for you

Hope i was helpful, feel free to message me if you have any questions

Originally posted by @Matt Lane :

Hi @Brian Kehoe

We are experienced developers and have done just that.  Assuming you have the proper zoning and lot dimensions it is definitely possible however not the simplest process for a novice to take on by themselves.  Navigating NYC building regulations and code enforcement exhausting and very frustrating especially if you plan to GC your build.  If you have no experience building then i would hire an experience builder/general contractor to do the job for you, this will save you a lot of aggravation and frustration however it will cost you more.

A few things to consider

- How do you intend to pay for the development?  Do you have the money or are you going to take out a construction loan?  If you're taking out a construction loan you will definitely need to go with an experienced GC

- Expect the subdivision, plan approval and development process to realistically take 18-24 months.  There will be others who will tell you that it will be shorter but DOB is very busy and moving very slow with permits and approvals even when using an expediter.

- Have you considered subdividing the land and selling it to an experienced developer?  Thus us a faster way to make a profit and will cost less money, time and aggravation for you

Hope i was helpful, feel free to message me if you have any questions

 Thanks for the info @Matt Lane. Now I see why people were telling me it would be a headache. Sounds like you definitely need to be involved with the right people to make it happen. I knew the city was slow but 18-24 months for is just ridiculous. I know of people nearby with similar properties as mine who have built on theirs so I'm assuming it must be possible. I'd be looking to do this in a year or two as I'm waiting for some additional funds but I will keep you in mind. Thanks for your input. 

@Brian Kehoe I agree with @Matt Lane that you should hire a GC to take this on unless you have significant building experience. I would also consider hiring an expeditor to get you through the planning / permitting process. Don't fear the long approval process...it's a lot of paperwork, appointments, and waiting, but the upfront cost is low compared to breaking ground for a construction project. If your lot is already vacant, I'd assume your holding cost is relatively low. If you put together the right team (Architect, GC, Expeditor) you'll know exactly what your numbers are going into the project and you can always sell the lot with approvals already in place to a spec-builder / developer. Selling the lot as-is (unimproved, un-entitled) will get you the lowest $$ amount for the least effort, but if you can make some money on the transaction it might be a decent play....

Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

@Brian Kehoe I had the privilege of working in NY for a couple of years on multi-family projects.  They were 4 unit projects to 20+ story towers.  @Matt Lane is spot on.  It's a complicated and long process getting a permit.  The firm I worked for was Kutnicki Bernstein Architects if you're looking for a lead.  You can call and see if they'll meet with you to discuss a bit further.  FYI - I have not been in contact with them for years but wanted to give you at least one firm name to get started on your process when you're ready.

Good luck!

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