housing questions....hypothetical lol.


New Member
Jan 7, 2010
not that I'm going to be able to afford such grandeur or lofty ideas; but...I wonder what would be issues with re-adapting or re-using say, a mid 80s/70s dated industrial warehouse into something of a multi-use complex with both commercial/industrial and residential purposes? I mean...this would be one kick-butt way of having that dream garage/shop while having a decent living space in a city like Salem, whose housing is either overpriced, or does not provide sufficient space for say a small machine shop and storage of 5+ vehicles....the idea here is to use one of the cottage plans for a small 3 bedroom townhouse or some such, INSIDE the said warehouse, or half inside, other half outside in order to have sufficient emergency escape system; and then use the rest of the space to form a very large garage/machine shop/storage, hell even a party floor for entertaining large number of guests!
I've seen a similar idea done, but this was done by putting together a bunch of shipping containers into a box structure with huge panes of glass and building a conventional cottage inside, in a residential zone...there's also the prefab thing but these are ridiculously expensive for what amounts to designer trailer homes....and in Salem, much of the industrial and warehousing areas are for lease at attractive prices, comparatively for the square footage; but I'm not sure of the zoning crap.....so would like real estate experts here to set me right lol. I've an artist friend who'd like to be able to set up a home/entertainment/art studio in the older industrial buildings in Portland as well; so I'm not the only one who thinks things like this would be really awesome, even if is not romantically looking like the house in tb3's redhead photos ;)
what you want to build is essentially a loft- the favorite choice for trendy 20-something hipsters living off their trust funds in the big city- except with a bunch of useful space left open for cars and what not.

i know one guy that built a big pole shed- like 50X100 or so with 20 foot side walls- and basically did just what you are tlaking about. he divided about 1/3 of the square footage off and built a 2 story living quarters with 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a stainless steel fireman's pole from the upper level down to the lower level. it really is pretty damn sweet.. the rest of the shop was left open, and there is a LOT of room in there. with the radiant floor heating hooked up to a geothermal heat pump system and with the whole building tightly insulated, his heating bills are pretty reasonable. being that he is a concrete contractor and can do almost all other construction work himself and with the help of his friends, he only has something like $100k into the whole place.
Your biggest issue is zoning.
2nd is, at least here, history of vehicle repair facility. In so cal if a building has never previously been used for vehicle repair it cannot be used for vehicle repair. I really doubt there is a distinction between personnel and business repair. The idiot idea behind this is to create vehicle repair centers which NEVER have enough parking because govt idiots do not understand that a repair shop will have 3 or more vehicles waiting for parts.

Insulation is another factor. I know people in the midwest with steel buildings that have moisture issues. And there is the heating issue.

I have seen some interesting conversions. A bank and a old car dealership turned into homes. There is a site Garage Majhal or fantastic garages that has 100s of garages build from other structures.

I always thought a old dealership would work good, esp if the lifts were still good.