Apartment Basements - Revenue/Amenity Options

5 Replies

I'm evaluating a few 15-30 unit value-add apartment buildings with large basements spaces (1000-1500 sq ft per building). These are in emerging B-/C+ areas communities. The ceiling height is typically around 7 or 8 feet. We're exploring adding garden units, but it's less than likely due to the fact the city (Chicago) is notoriously difficult on these matters. I'd like to make the space functional for the residents and have it directly increase the NOI or serve as an amenity for the property. There is already a laundry space and I've thought of building out a game / entertainment room and an office/business center.

Would like to get a short list together and then poll residents for what amenities they would like and be willing to pay for.  What are some thoughts on maximizing this basement space? Does anyone have experience adding functional space in apartment basements?

@John Casmon - look at adding storage rooms. @Matt Faircloth did a video a while back where they showed how they build out storage rooms in a basement with chain link fence. 

@John Casmon with that kind of great ceiling height it seems like it would be better suited for actual living space than storage. I have a few multiunit buildings and the same situation which I am seriously looking into adding staircases to duplex down the first floor units.

I did have a few architects do renderings on my first building on this issue but it seemed like the cost/reward wasn’t where I wanted it to be. 1000 square feet in the basement though is a whole other story. Could you finish that space, add a staircase and double your footprint?

Storage is obvious great but the overhead to build space for that is minimal. I have to think your ROI on a finished basement with a bathroom and bedrooms/family room would demand substantially more.

Interesting idea though. I’ll be following this.

@Ted Kuhlmann my first thought is adding units as that will certainly create the most value. Outside of the costs, trying to get it approved by the city (as a separate space) is a concern. I’d have to dig deeper on the costs and upside of duplexing down.

During the winter, I think about how to better monetize wasted spaces in our properties and was thinking about the same thing at one of our properties here in Providence. 

We have done storage rooms in many of our buildings. We save our left over doors from apartment renovations, frame up a doorway and walls out of 2x4's, and OSB plywood the walls to create privacy for the storage rooms. For $25-$40 you have a storage room that we rent out for $25 per month for tenants. This would be the best ROI although, but may not be the best cashflow option.

The house that I have been thinking a lot about is built on a road that is on a hill so one side has small basement windows, but the other side has big enough window openings for egress. I don't have enough land to change the use (occupancy) without going in front of zoning (which equals $$$), so I cannot add another apartment. 

So what we are considering is creating a stairway from the apartment above, down into the basement for 1 or 2 more bedrooms with a hallway, and a back door (2nd form of egress from basement) that leads to the existing basement stairs and out. We could probably get another $1000/month in rent, but we are looking at $50,000-$60,000 in work to move 2 heating systems, create a stairway, frame, fire rate and finish. 

So far less ROI them storage rooms, but long term better cashflow.

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