Remodel & Renovate in 60626>Question Details

Daniel85, Home Buyer in Chicago, IL

Can i add additional units to my 2-flat home?

Asked by Daniel85, Chicago, IL Sat Mar 19, 2011

I have a 2-flat in east rogers park that is zoned on RT-4 on an extra oversized lot 6030 sqft.

My understanding of RT-4 is that you can have a unit for each 1000 sqft of lot size, could I add an additional 2 units to the back of the house or does the zoning only apply to new construction?

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18
Daniel,

I was hoping you could fit a driveway on the side, obviously there is no space for that. In fact, now that I think back to some of my projects, the city might even insist on a 22-24 feet wide driveway (as Mr. Van Kooten mentioned) for the whopping four cars traffic jam to the parking area. I don't see many options keeping the existing building intact outside of renting off-site parking or a zoning variance where neighbors are invited to offer their thoughts on your project. You could probably take your survey into the zoning department to get the story from the horses mouth.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 21, 2011
Based on the additional information, forget it. Leave it as is, turn it into a high end single family or demo the 2 flat and build new townhomes. Adding on is unlikely to work or get approved. Maybe you'll find some savvy self-cert architect who can make it work on paper. Then what, you have some odd ball property? Who will want to live there?
I would suggest continuing to gather information until you feel comfortable enough to realize it may not be the best idea, then move on. Ask any agent, the majority of buyers don't want odd, quirky, different real estate. Buyers want normal.
Web Reference: http://www.aic-chicago.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 20, 2011
The final answer given the new info is no you will not be able to add any units under the existing zoning. No parking no additional units.

Your only other two options are demo of existing structure and underground parking in the new structure (probably not economically feasible) or you may try to apply for a zoning variance. For this you must meet with the alderman and make a case that this is for the greater good of the community and not for your own personal gain exclusively. (not very likely)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 20, 2011
Richard,

The lot is 35 wide and 180ft deep. The current 2 flat occupies almost all that 35 feet in width... maybe you park a motorcycle on the side to give you an idea. The place is 2 blocks from a CTA stop, and a couple blocks to a metra stop if that makes a difference with the parking requirement.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 20, 2011
Daniel,

You must have parking for each unit. You will need a front driveway to the rear. For this you must have 22' wide for ingress/egress. You would also need to get a curb cut for the street access. This must be obtained from the alderman and more than likely approved by his community development group. You would need an Architect to lay it out and an attorney to legally describe it for public hearings held by the zoning board of appeals City of Chicago. While your current two units may not have parking any new units would require parking for all of the units total. No Grand Father if you choose to build more units you must bring the site up to current zoning standards. There are also green space requirements for the rear lot. Once again a meeting with an Architect would help you determine the feasibility of the whole thing. I recommend Hanna Architects Inc. (John Hanna) 180 W. Washington St. 312-750-1800. Bring your Plat of Survey with and John will be happy to tell you what can be done. His prices are very competitive and he will only charge you if something can be done and you have him draw it. Tell John I sent you
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 20, 2011
"there is no alley so there isnt currently any parking. How will that affect trying to put an addition?"

Your first meeting to obtain a building permit is with the zoning department, they will ask to see where the parking is provided for each of the units if it is not clearly indicated on your drawings. If no parking solution is provided, they will stop the permit process until the requirement is somehow satisfied.

If there is no feasible on site solution, you could try providing off-site parking (probably not cost effective in your case and this option would have to be verified with the Chicago zoning department). You may be able try to get a zoning variance to waive the parking requirement - this would likely involve a public meeting.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 20, 2011
I must learn to type faster, the entire conversation will be over before I'm through.

How wide is the building? Is there room for a driveway to get to the rear of the lot? is there a basement in the existing building? How much space between the front of the existing house and the front property line?

Regards,

Richard Hunt
Hunt and Hunt Architects
grhunt@huntarchitects.net
312-775-2670
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 19, 2011
Richard as i mentioned, there is no alley so there isnt currently any parking. How will that affect trying to put an addition?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 19, 2011
Hello Daniel,

The short answer is yes, you could have up to six units total (existing + proposed) for the lot....
District Minimum Lot Area per Unit* (square feet)

RS1 6,250
RS2 5,000
(etc... etc... etc...)
RT4 Dwelling units: 1,000
Efficiency units: 1,000
SRO units: 500 (Single Room Occupancy - don't think you're interested in those)
(etc...)

The longer answer is that many other zoning and building code factors would have some bearing on your situation. You say that you'd like to add to the back of the existing of the existing building, so the depth of the lot and rear yard (zoning code) and the construction type and exits (building code) of the existing front building might come into play. You would (as somebody mentioned) have to accommodate parking for all of the units (4 spaces I would think). Nobody, including the Chicago Zoning Department, can seriously answer your questions without seeing an accurate survey and seeing (at least pictures of) your building.

Some other thoughts: I assume that your existing two flat is 'legal', no need to see an attorney about this unless you can not comply with the zoning code but still want to pursue the project (no need to get in a fight yet). Your alderman will eventually find out about the project as you will either get him to sign off on the project to avoid a slight delay in permitting, or the CBD will hold your project briefly while they notify him / her (this does not mean that your alderperson is able to help you with zoning or building questions). You can try to make an appointment with the Chicago Zoning Department through the 'web reference link' to see if they will help you.

If you seriously want to pursue this project, feel free to email your survey and building photos to me.

Regards,

Richard Hunt
Hunt and Hunt Architects
grhunt@huntarchitects.net
312-775-2670
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 19, 2011
sorry meant to write there is no alley so there is no parking currently for the 2 flat
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 19, 2011
John,

There is no alley, so currently there is for the 2 flat. How would that work out?

Lot is 35 by 180
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 19, 2011
You are alowed 1 unit for every 1000 sq ft of land in an RT-4 zoning district (up to 6 units in your case), but you must provide 1 parking space for each unit (each parking space must be at least 8' x 22' with exclusive ingress egress). The Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in an RT-4 district is 1.2 which means you can build 6,030 sq ft x 1.2 = 7,236 sq ft total build out above grade. The basement does not count against this total and you can have a unit in the basement providing that your ceiling hieght is at least 7' thoughout.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 19, 2011
Before considering your addition, do check with your local planning and zoning department, then go from there....
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 19, 2011
Zoning is important, but its always a good idea to check with you attorney and your local alderman (in this case it's Joe Moore). If you are looking to add a garden unit it is very unlikely because the city has been cracking down on them.

Good luck,

Mark Malave
773-435-1605
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 19, 2011
A couple of comments without knowing the details of your situation.
- You would also need to know if/what suffix your RT-4 zoning has. This will make a difference
- 17-1-1300 Number of Buildings on a Zoning Lot; may apply to your situation if you plan on making the new building a detached building
- If you are planning to making this some sort of attached townhome development Section 17-2-0500 regarding townhomes would likely apply
- Chapter 17-2 will cover most of what you need to know to start
- Lot and floor area ratios will apply
- You will need aldermanic approval
- Not sure if this is feasible or not. Will depend on location and configuration. If you are east of Sheridan almost anything is feasible. West of Sheridan not sure if the numbers will work.
Having lived in east rogers park and west ridge for 20 years, I'm a bit skeptical. 2 more rental units, not like the east side really needs more rental units. Condo's maybe depending on location and quality but doubtful. If you are thinking of this to maximize resale value in relation to lot size, I'd consider turning the 2 flat into a high end single family.
Hope that helps.
Web Reference: http://www.aic-chicago.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 19, 2011
Hi Daniel,
I have a 2 flat in Lincoln Square on a rt-4 lot and was considering adding a unit to my building as well. In theory you can add a unit if you have enough parking spaces, enough lot square footage, and in my case enough ceiling height in the basement. 7'3" if I remember correctly. Adding a unit on to the back is different, I have not heard about all the requirements for that.
Even if you have all of those things you will still need to check with the city departments. It would be beneficial to run it by your alderman's office also so you don't invest time and money into plans and running around the city's building departments. I would also ask yourself why you want to add a unit: to add value to your home, to increase income potential, or do you absolutely want to stay in the same home and need more space? Depending on your answer, adding a unit may or may not be your best option.
Feel free to contact me if you want my contacts for permit expediter, architect, and GC's.
Good luck with your project.
James Kannookadan
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 19, 2011
Daniel,
Laura is correct. You also may want to consider an architect. Most of the time they are very familiar with the zoning and permitting process. If you are looking in Chicago get in touch with me I can assist you find a great architect.
773.844.6372
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 19, 2011
Hi Daniel,
You need to consult the planning and zoning dept. in your town and exactly what the specifications are in your zone as each zone has different criteria and may vary according to lot size. I would then suggest checking with the building department to see if your plan is permitable.
Good luck!

Laura Feghali
Prudential Connectcut Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 19, 2011
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