I have a building which is a brick shell - looking to convert to 1,500 square foot condos. What are the typical costs?

Asked by Lane, Chicago, IL Mon Mar 7, 2011

Building is on the northwest side of Chicago, looking to convert a brick shell into 6 - 1,500 square foot condos (2 beds 2 baths) with nice finishes. Is there a ballpark amount to use when starting from a solid shell and building out with mid-high quality finishes?

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er, , TYs Park, Hollywood, FL
Tue Mar 29, 2011
Hello Lane:

From the nature of your question, it sounds like you will need a lot of help. Getting a ballpark cost estimate is easy but not worth much. If you have purchased the building already then you are locked into that particular market and you should be careful not to over-build. Have a Realtor do a camparable market anaylsis of the condos in your market and be conservative with the numbers. Include in the CMA the total number of foreclosures & short sales and their condition. Pay close attention to the total Market Time of each property on the market and think about what makes your's so outstanding.

Search for and hire an experienced licensed Architect/Engineer to closely work with you. An Architect/Engineer can discuss the building process, develop schematic designs, verify the structural soundness of the building, provide cost estimates, recommend good licensed contractors (General, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumber, etc.). You will also need an experienced Attorney who knows about condo conversion, Zoning Ordinance and be sure to discuss your plans the the Alderman of the Ward early because nothing gets done without their blessing and that of the community. It's going to take some effort and time. If you are a novice at development I recommend teaming up with someone who is experienced. This way you share the liabilities and profits but at the same time you learn the ropes. Remember your a Seller in a Buyer's market.
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Hello. Is there a website I could go to to find out what my 2 flat shell but with a fairly new roof and good foundation is worth? Someone approached me about selling but I don't want to overprice the building nor lowball it. Please and thank you.
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Marcin Talaga, Agent, Chicago, IL
Fri Mar 11, 2011

I may be able to provide you with some insite on this. I've been pricing out Bungalow rehabs on the northwest side for the last couple of months and have come up with a spreadsheet of costs that I could share with you if you'd like. Shoot me an email, and I'll tell you about it.

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Robert Pratt, Agent, Chicago, IL
Thu Mar 10, 2011
Hi, Lane!

Our very own Dream Town Builders will be happy to get a good estimate for you asap.
Give them a call at 312.698.8500!

Best of luck to you in your project.
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Accurate Ins…, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Mon Mar 7, 2011
First off, +/-$50K per unit. Depends on your contractor, connections, experience, etc. Also I typically recommend clients add the rehab cost of at least one unit onto the project to cover general building improvements. Tuckpointing, roof, porch, whatever the items may be. I do cost estimates regularly, so when I go through a building the numbers work.
Ok, now you aren't going to like the rest of this answer but try not to hate me for it. Are you insane? Have you looked at how many unsold condos there are on the northwest side, have you looked into how hard it is to get financing for a buyer on a new condo building, do you have a niche - is there a reason someone should buy your condo instead of one of the many already built, do you have experience? If this is vintage brick you have a marketing advantage over CMU if you know how to use it.
I realize if you own a brick shell you obviously need to do something with it. I have to tell you though I would recommend thinking long and hard condos. I seriously doubt Condo sales will be any better in the fall of 2012, your likely sale time.
Rental may not work for you from a finance standpoint, over the next few years it may be a better option though. Depending on variables you could apply for money with Community Investment Corporation, no I don't work for them.
Feel free to give me a call or drop a line.
Good luck
Web Reference:  http://www.aic-chicago.com
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Matt Laricy, Agent, Chicago, IL
Mon Mar 7, 2011
I would speak with a few contractors first and get the price of what it will cost to do. Once you get a estimate, I would get a few agents opinions on what the selling price of each unit would be and go from there.

Matt Laricy
Americorp Real Estate
Brokers Associate, e-PRO
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Caroline Fel…, , Chicago, IL
Mon Mar 7, 2011
Hi Lane

A huge bulk of the price is contingent on the contractor/labor.

Can recommend someone that does not own a company, but has a lifetime of great references of actual jobs completed with superior finishes.

From my experiences and with my labor referral, labor will cost you approx $15k each unit.
Raw materials and other finishes(appliances etc.) will be approx $20k

Some Tips:
Stop by the post office and ask for the home movers discount packet... contains 10% off Home Depot and Lowes. Another option is to google and fill out the application online for an automatic email coupon.
For Appliances, Shop Sears Outlet Stores/Clearance items online... will route you to appropriate stores with the lowest discounts.
Stonecity.com for granite $32 sq. ft. 1 1/2" installed
For Lighting and Chandeliers; Home Depot outlet stores online has the best prices.

Just completed a few projects with quality finishes... can share the photos if you are interested.
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Erik Blinn, Agent, Chicago, IL
Mon Mar 7, 2011

I've built a couple buildings myself and been involved with gut rehabs on others. First, you should talk with a realtor to gage prices and absorption rates in the specific area of your building. Then get at least 3 quotes from different general contractors to get an idea of the cost of your project. Then you can make an educated decision on whether to proceed. I'd be happy to assist you with your project.
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Philip Sencer, Agent, Chicago, IL
Mon Mar 7, 2011
Most folks who do (did) this usually know the answer or they just don't do it. I am not sure this is the market to break into the condo development field as most of those folks have gone underground.
I will assume you already own the building so will not factor that into the equation although you should probably add a value for it in order to see if it's even worth doing the project.
A GC will probably charge anywhere from $70-125/sf depending where on the NW side you are talking about. You also need to factor 'soft' costs like advertising/marketing. Can you sell them without a R E Broker?
You need to do some homework or have a few agents do some homework on what similar units are selling for and figure what the cost-per SF is for those projects to see if you can compete.
These figues are ball park without knowing more about what the shell looks like or where it's located.
This is not an easy project to undertake in the current market.
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Aaron Taylor, , Chicago, IL
Mon Mar 7, 2011

Those are large condos, you might want to consider a 3 bedroom layout. Anyways, I have a listing at 921 S. Austin. A top of the line contractor has quoted a finish price of $35.00 per square foot. It has some things done, but needs quite a bit also. He does supurb work, is honest and let's you know everyting. Good luck with your project. Let me know if you would like him to give you an estimate.
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Josh, , Chicago, IL
Mon Mar 7, 2011
Hi Lane,
Is the floor structure in place? Has the building been gutted? How many stories is the building? Finishes make a huge difference in cost but if you're looking at a fairly heavy rehab you can expect to pay anywhere from $65 to $120 per square foot in hard costs alone. That won't include architecture/engineering fees, legal fees, building permits, insurance, etc. Some of your most important variables will be the condition of the shell and existing structure, the skill/experience of your contractors, and the level of finishes you choose.
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