There are some people who prefer mixing historical charm with modern living arrangements, leading to the question – Can carriage houses be considered multifamily dwellings? Carriage houses, which are known for their rich history and unique architectural qualities, have seen many transformations over recent years to adapt to modern needs. But do these changes mean that this property is considered multifamily? In this blog, we will be diving further into this topic.
What Are Carriage Houses?
When we look at history, carriage houses were outdoor structures that were designed to house horse-drawn carriages. They were used as accessory dwelling units (ADUs) or functional spaces for storage and transportation. But, in the present, carriage houses have evolved beyond this original purpose.
A carriage house in the modern world has been repurposed into living spaces and/or guest houses with modern amenities. However, they still retain their unique architectural elements such as the wide doorways and high ceilings. With these improvements, coach houses have become much more desirable options for homeowners who are looking for a quaint and unique addition to their current homes.
Carriage homes can come equipped with all the necessary facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Though, some people prefer to use it as an extra home office or garage, and so will repurpose these houses for those purposes. Therefore, whether a carriage house can be called a multifamily property will depend on a few factors mentioned below.
The Issue Of Multifamily Housing
To identify if a carriage house is considered multifamily, we first need to understand what constitutes a multifamily home. Generally, multifamily dwellings are residential properties that are designed to house multiple separate units. Think of apartment complexes or townhouses that have individual distinctive units.
When it comes to carriage houses, considering them for multifamily use will largely depend on the overall size and layout of the house, as well as the purpose of the converted space. There may be some carriage houses that are spacious enough to accommodate multiple “families” within separate units. While there are others that may be more suited for a single family or can serve as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in conjunction with the main residence.
- Size and Layout – In order to be considered multifamily, there needs to be adequate square footage and a layout that accommodates separate living spaces. Each living space should have separate bedrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.
- Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs): ADUs, sometimes called granny flats, are separate, self-contained units located on the same property as the main residence. These units are used as additional repurposed living spaces with the added charm of the carriage house architecture.
- Local Zoning Laws – Depending on where you’re situated, there may be local zoning regulations that determine the permissibility of multifamily use for carriage houses. Conditions such as limiting the number of units or how many people can occupy these units within a single structure may apply.
Avoiding Legal Complications
Before you start making architectural changes to a coach house to be used as multifamily dwelling units, you need to consult the local regulations and zoning ordinances. These guidelines can vary in every jurisdiction, so you need to make sure you’re following the correct local regulation. They will provide valuable insights into what is allowed, the restrictions, as well as the requirements to convert it into a multifamily structure. It would be best to communicate with local authorities or obtain professional advice to ensure compliance and legality.
Converting A Carriage House To a Multifamily
If you’re considering converting your carriage house to a multifamily building, then you’re likely not making it an ADU. As such, here are your first steps:
- First, you will need to ensure through the local zoning laws that multifamily carriage houses are allowed in your area. Some areas have specified restrictions on the size or number of units that can be built in a carriage house.
- Second, you will need to prepare the carriage house to be large enough to be able to house multiple units. Most carriage houses are quite small, so you may need to make some structural changes in order to accommodate more than two units.
- Third, you have to decide how you want to make use of the different units. You have the option of renting all the units out or using one unit as a guesthouse and the rest as rental units. This will depend on how much rental income you want to make.
Once you’re sure of what you want to do with your carriage house, you can move on to converting them into multifamily real estate. You need to ensure the following before opening the units up for rent:
- Ensure the whole carriage house is structurally sound
- There needs to be separate entrances and exits for every unit
- There has to be a kitchen and bathroom for each unit
- Add soundproofing to the walls and floors and ensure there is proper insulation
- Every unit will need to have its own separate heating and cooling systems
After you’re done with these changes, the real estate value of your property will go up as you will have successfully converted the coach house into a multi-family.
Owning a carriage house is an attractive prospect, not just for its versatility but its uniqueness as well. There is so much you can do with carriage houses, and you’re free to convert it however you feel. But, make sure you’re abiding by the zoning regulations beforehand to avoid any potential legal implications.