Anyone have experience splitting an up/down duplex with the city?

7 Replies

I have the opportunity to purchase a home zoned as a duplex, but currently is laid out as a single family home. There are separate entrances, and it would be incredibly easy to reformat the floor plan to make this home an up/down duplex without doing too much to alter the current lay out.

Does anyone have experience with the city with this process? I've done it on a side by side duplex before that was purchased as a single parcel of land, but it already had separate addresses. That process was fairly straight forward and easy, so I'm hoping this is similar. The idea is to buy as is, then rehab and sell each unit individually. 

Just looking for confirmation. Thank you!

@Ian Martin no can do. City does not allow. The PL split must go from the center of the earth to the sky with no overlap. You can have easements to allow one to cross the other's property but no overlap of ownership. 

I would say that a duplex is probably more valuable than a SFR of the same size. Do the remodel and sell as a legal duplex. In reality, up/down is about all that's left for duplexes in the City and County of Denver. Right now what I'm seeing in the market is that duplexes sell for about the same as two single units. The market has squeezed out the buy a duplex off the mls, split and sell each half for a nice profit.

Is this city of Denver? You’ll need to check local codes but if it’s zoned duplex, but currently the use is single family, you should technically be able to convert it if you bring it up to code (IRC - the version varies by jurisdiction) which requires attached two unit dwellings to be separated by 1 hour fire separation. In this case, you’ll need to fire-rate the floor/ceiling and any structures that go up to the first floor unit deck. I just ran into this same issue with city of Edgewater and that’s what I need to do to make it a duplex. This can get pretty costly, depending on how the unit is laid out.
Did you have to provide the 1 hr separation when you did the side by side?

@Dorothy Ma in Denver when you split an existing legal side by side duplex they don't require an upgrage in separation. The assumption being that when it was constructed it was to code so no change in use to simply split in half. If you make a SFR into a duplex, they might require that. Another issue I ran into on a property was when I wanted to change the use (industrial to residential) I had to bring the current structure up to the new energy code. Think new windows and R-19 wall insulation, R-50 ceiling insulation. It's expensive to convert block and brick walls (R-6) to R-19. It killed the deal.

So if you can still do a side by side duplex whats that process look like? 

I imagine if the zoning allows for a duplex then all you would need is a survey, new deeds created, and a party wall agreement?

Survey, new deeds, party wall agreement, and separately metered for utilities. The place I split with a partner was already being treated as a duplex and had two separate mailing addresses, just was never officially split with the city. All the said and done the process was easy. Pay a visit to the City Planning Department and they will give you all the necessary information you're looking for.

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