Is multifamily zoning not helpful ?

3 Replies

I am trying to acquire a property and have questions about the zoning and how it will help or hinder the value . The property is taxed crazily and I believe thats because its zoned multifamily . 

Existing Design:

1. Lot: 15000 sq ft  2 unit building , 2 story , total 1500 sq ft , Just one room on second story , Detached heated garage 1100 sq ft with an office 


assessed value: 285 k

Under contract : 180K

Exterior: Average plus

Interior : leave the walls , but change everything

Some basic Ideas I had :

1. Convert detached garage in to a living unit /studio .

2. Add additional units 

I started my research by going through the zoning ordinance , reached out to a land use attorney . He said that its not possible to convert garage as they wont allow two buildings on the lot .

I went to the county website and found there are many lots with multiple buildings . So I dont know why the attorney said that .


recahed out to the zoning department and their answers vague , ofcourse I cannot pull the trigger basing on these responses


I reached out to a local architect and he says he is not the right person to help :-)

So who is the right expert in this ? They should look at the zoning and tell - hey the FAR is so and so , the build-able area is so and so , so you can do this ...

Even if you have knowledge on these issues in your local market , please post - and I understand that the rules vary but it will help trigger some thoughts .

If you are an expert and wants to JV - I am open :-)

We've run into this once or twice before, trying to make a detached garage a different use. The zoning key words you will want to look for are "Accessory Dwelling" or "Principal Building". In most zoning districts you can only have 1 Principal Building per lot. Some zoning allows for accessory dwellings. This would be your detached garage / in-law suite type use. One way to get around some of this is to physically connect the two structures with a covered walkway or similar type structure. It may need to be a conditioned walkway to meet the code. This then makes it an "attached" structure and a part of the main house. Then if zoning allows for 3 units per lot you should be ok. Your architect / Zoning department should have the answers. Just keep asking until you get what you are looking for.  

@Seth Holmen   

Great advice seth , Regarding "keep asking" , cant agree more :-) Finding the right information itself is half the job.

My zoning allows as much as 7 units ... for the smallest size per unit and 2.5 storeys

But adding a unit in 2nd storey doesnt sound economical as the cost can not be recouped easily in the rents/appraisal

Are there any architects/contractors who I can consult with in your market , just to get more info . I will pay them so some business for your referral :-)