Converting an Old Industrial Building into a Modern Living Space: How Easy Is It?

Eugene Vargas

There's something undeniably trendy about converting an old industrial building into a modern living space. Old industrial sheds, factories and warehouses can be found within walking distance to a city's centre, and perhaps you've considered one day converting such a structure into your new home. There are a few things you might not have thought about that might hamper your efforts.


Multipurpose zoning is commonplace across Australia, wherein an area is zoned as being appropriate for both commercial and residential uses. It's not universal though, so the first thing to find out is whether or not you'll be able to live in that old building. This might rule a number of properties out, and there might not have been all that many to choose from in the first place.

The Existing Structure

Once you have determined that you will be able to live in the space after conversion, there might also be additional limitations on the nature of the conversion. You might have to keep the existing structure in its entirety. This is true if it has been heritage listed, meaning that you have to plan the conversion within the existing framework of the industrial structure. Additions might not even be permitted if you need to keep the existing structure in its present shape.

The Facilities

Old industrial structures were not intended for year-round living, so a significant amount of work is needed before the space becomes liveable. You will need to consider appropriate insulation, which can be problematic (and costly) in a large structure. The building would already be connected to the grid, so electrical supply is not a problem, although plumbing might be. Perhaps the structure already has drainage and plumbing for bathroom and kitchen facilities or perhaps not. Depending on what sort of living space you're envisioning, additional plumbing and drainage facilities might be required. Is this actually possible in the structure in question? A detailed assessment will be needed, and this might require you to change your plans.

The Cost

This is not surprising, but given the prime location of the majority of these types of buildings, the purchase cost will be significant. This needs to be taken into account along with the cost of the conversion. It's a large project, and you need to be careful that it does not exceed your financial capabilities.

The Alternative

Converting industrial structures into living spaces is something that takes place with regularity in Australian towns and cities. If you don't much like the idea of arranging the work yourself, you can probably find one that has already been converted and is essentially ready for you to move in.

While it's an undeniably trendy way to live, it's important to remember that there are a few hurdles when it comes to converting an industrial space into somewhere cool to live.