By Meghan Belnap

Alternative housing complexes are becoming more common due to their usability, affordability and sustainability. You may have seen these repurposed buildings in your city without even realizing it, and for good reason… housing alone has become in-demand and expensive in many areas around the world. At the same time, buildings of all shapes and sizes, many of which were once vibrant businesses, are now old and dilapidated.

Related: 5 Real Estate Investments You Should Consider

You may not realize that many of these properties, including hotels, office buildings, factories, schools and other commercial properties, can be converted into new usable space. Investors have started buying these old and abandoned sites, giving them new life and converting them into affordable housing for those in need. Here’s an overview of how it’s done:


One of the challenges of converting an old commercial building into a residential home is finding the right place to start. A number of factors must be taken into account, including local amenities and resources, such as public transportation. This is especially important in low-income situations. The existing structural work of a building must also be assessed.

Once a building is chosen, legal approval is required to convert it into a habitable space. The “use class” of the building will likely need to be changed and the site zoned for housing renovation. The requirements and terms for this vary, so it’s worth looking into local laws and regulations if anyone is interested in funding one of these conversions.


After all the mandatory city and region paperwork has been completed and the technical and legal matters for the project have been settled, the exciting part begins. Depending on the age and previous use of the old building, some demolition may be required. Creating houses from cabins and classrooms often requires at least some reconstruction within the facility. Walls will have to be torn down and new walls will be built in their place. Manufactured wall frames can make this process much easier and faster. Plumbing, wiring, insulation, drywall, flooring, and cladding, along with other structures, will follow after the walls are in place. Then paint, appliances, lighting and other finishes are added.


After remodeling, the property must be inspected and legally approved for residential rental. This is essential to ensure the building is safe and functional before tenants move in. If the property is privately owned, it will likely be rented out as usual. However, if it is government or charitable property, it can also be used for previously unhoused individuals, providing them with a safe and comfortable place to get back on their feet.

In general, adaptive reuse of commercial buildings is often a good solution to the demand for more housing. In crowded cities, it is a good way to ensure that existing space is used efficiently and that low-income people have access to public transport and other amenities. It is also helpful in reducing the materials needed for a new construction, making it a sustainable choice. Hopefully, this trend will continue to increase in the coming years to make the most of these thriving urban communities.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. Belnap finds happiness in exploring new topics that help her broaden her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or looking for an adventure. For more information about wall moldings, she recommends contacting Precast Technology PTY LTD.