Metamorphosis of existing properties

Metamorphosis of existing properties

Renovate and repurpose an existing property to face the economic crisis

In recession times, renovating and repurposing existing properties seems to be the best solution for home hunters in search of an affordable and worthwhile investment opportunity.

Interior designers, architects and city planning experts will have the possibility to give free rein to their imagination to convert old shops, garages, workshops, office spaces but also haylofts and stables into cosy homes. This might be considered as a “sustainable” measure, as it will not be necessary to use new building plots of land. Of course, the costs involved in transforming and upgrading already-existing real estate properties will be lower than the costs needed to build a new one from the foundations.

Buying a property that was used as a shop might be a profitable investment opportunity where town-planning schemes allow changing their intended use: in Milan, a 75-square-metre shop has been transformed into a flat that is being sold for € 170 000. The large supply – that keeps increasing on a national scale in Italy – includes also many offices to be converted into residential properties. Many farmhouses and dairy farms have been abandoned and they can become comfortable dwellings with the permission of local authorities.

In Italy, the change of the use of real estate properties depends on regional law and in particular on permissive or less permissive zoning regulations that might change in time. In Florence, for example, it was possible to convert ground-floor shops and unused warehouses into homes until last year, but the latest town-planning scheme has forbidden the repurposing of that kind of properties.

If the change of the intended use implies complex interior works, the process is more difficult. A planning permission might be necessary to install a new heating system, a new plumbing or a new electric installation, or to build a new bathroom or a new wall. Furthermore, it would be necessary to update the cadastral situation of the house.

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