Would you live in a converted warehouse?

By author: Vicky Li

They say a home says a lot about who you are, your home should represent you as a person, it’s your life packed into one. For the creative artistic types these days, they want more than just a house. Warehouse conversions are almost a blank canvas, no more are they factory operating businesses but today, it’s cool to live in a warehouse conversion. High ceilings and exposed brick walls with each building telling a different story.

The spacious layout can indeed make you feel the warehouse truly yours, with no constriction on where to put those massive leather sofas or the 10 ft painting you have. You make it exactly how you like. Warehouse conversions in the UK are typically over 100 years old, although they are not exactly warm some may put it with the lack of insulated walls, it’s quirky and edgy, telling people exactly who you are without words.

Until recently, warehouses were the cheaper option, now as a hipster trend, prices of converted warehouses have a shot. If you find a similar size of a regular house or apartment, chances are warehouses are now more expensive.

The down side

As previously said, bills can be certainly higher living in warehouses. Its large area cost a lot to heat, retaining its original features isn’t exactly eco-friendly either.

In London, converted warehouses can be found such as London Wharf, mostly dotted near ports as they were specifically positioned away from central London. What does this mean? It can make transport links a little bit difficult. Other locations such as Royal Victoria Docks and the canals are example of this, you have to travel that little bit further.


A typical London warehouse conversion (yourlondonbuilders.com) 

The legal issues

As warehouses are used for commercial uses previously, the legal issues involved will be about zoning and insurance. As the warehouses were zoned for commercial uses, zoning in residential uses are to a different extent. Landlords of these warehouses should be highly aware of this otherwise he is breaking the law as well as the insurance policies and could open up to an array of legal issues stemmed from dangerous uses provided within warehouses.

There are less serious issues that can also be an inconvenience for residents. It is said that living in converted warehouses may have to pay separately for rubbish pick up and recycling is not included.

In London, crime may be another problem, as these converted warehouses are situated distant from the main town, there is more likely to have a higher crime rates due to the lack of people around there.

The trend in other places 

People in Hong Kong have taken on board this idea too. Something beyond the glass falling modern skyscrapers; something beyond the norm. In Hong Kong, where the growing amount of creatives and artists are situated here among the analysts and bankers. I spoke to property consultant – Michael Lam from Iglu Property Consultants in trying to further understand this growing trend of living in warehouse conversions.

He too, has had clients looking for warehouse conversions and believes it could be something that the real estate industry will be seeing more of. The first thing that came to mind when I asked him “So why warehouse conversions?” was the word “freedom”. Indeed in Hong Kong there is a severe lack of space in such a small city which has meant that people have never felt the need for more space than ever.

As well as space, Lam agrees that warehouse conversions are “a desirable investment as it doesn’t fluctuate as much as the residential properties and therefore, becomes a more stable investment”.

Similar to the UK where most of the warehouse conversions are located outside of the central areas, Hong Kong counts “Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen, Chai Wan on the Island and Kwai Chung in Kowloon” as ideal destinations for warehouse conversions according to Lam; however “Hong Kong’s transportation is highly convenient so by living in such areas, there is no problem in getting around with the constant availability of buses and mini buses. With the new MTR stations to open in Wong Chuk Hang and Aberdeen for instance, this will open up opportunities bringing warehouse conversions all the more favorable to those that have never even thought about residing in those areas”.

Coming to the end of the interview, I had one last question and most probably the most important one. “What are the important issues people have to be aware of living in warehouse conversions?” He simply explains, “It’s borderline illegal, people interested in turning warehouses into their homes should be aware of the occupation permits on the property, i.e: the allocated use. Furthermore, if you have a family you may risk the lack of school networks for your children. Registering for schools in Hong Kong tend to accept those that live in the area and by being located further out, this may present a problem.


In Hong Kong: A stylish warehouse conversion Hong Kong is witnessing more and more (timeout.com.hk) 

The result 

Warehouse conversions are given the ‘live-work’ status and describes it exactly what it is, people will live and work in these spaces. You will not be surprised to find that the residents that live in them are not scared of showing off their homes. However, as Lam says you may lose out on some important networks for these budding creatives but converted warehouses are somewhat of a fashion statement and that they may be willing to take the risk in order to turn a blank space into an inspirational home to enjoy.

Interviewed Property Consultant Michael Lam from Iglu Property Consultants


Contact: +852 2581 1740

Iglu Property Consultants Limited

Suite B, 12th Floor

Tern Centre, Tower 2,

No. 251 Queen’s Road Central

Hong Kong

For more information on this article:

Website: http://www.iglu.com.hk

Email: vli@iglu.com.hk

Tel: +852 2581 1709

Iglu Property Consultants Limited

Suite B, 12th Floor

Tern Centre, Tower 2,

No. 251 Queen’s Road Central

Hong Kong


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