Top Things To Know Before Buying a Loft

Monday, August 27, 2018

So you’ve been bitten by the loft bug -- concrete, high ceilings, exposed brick and timber make you weak in the knees.  Don’t worry us too and there is a cure, but there’s some things you should know before diving into the wonderful world of loft living.

Lofts are a unique beast in the real estate game, and thus its best to learn their quirks (and benefits) now rather than be surprised during the buying process.

Live/Work Zoning - Lots of loft spaces are Live/Work zoned. It’s one of the major factors that attracts people to the spaces. However, this raises unique issues over a traditional apartment.

- GST - GST can be deferred if operated as business and not as a residence.  So if you’re purchasing a loft that was previously operated as a business you could be on the hook for GST

- Not all lenders will lend on live/work zoned buildings. Talk to your mortgage broker and know your options.

Unauthorized vs Authorized Square Footage - Unauthorized is technically a material latent defect as it’s not permitted by the city. However many lofts contain some unauthorized space and it’s important to know what the risk factors are here.

There’s More Than One Type of Loft - Yup, we’ve divided them into seven (non-mutually exclusive) types to be precise. Some research beforehand can help you narrow down your search to buildings that contain the loft you want. Already know what building you want to live in? Sign up for our building alerts by finding the building here, and filling out our sign up form.

Hard Loft - The conversion of buildings to lofts - result in what is known as the "hard loft." These are buildings with history and character. They have a harder edge of either concrete construction, or "mill" construction of exposed old brick and original wood posts, beams and floors and / or heavy timber construction. They will have the original exposed ductwork, electrical, and plumbing which are features used to complement the décor.

Soft Loft - Soft lofts are usually found in newly constructed loft buildings. They have the elements of a hard loft but with softer edges. The softer edges may include carpet covering the floors and drywall encasements hiding the ductwork, electrical, and plumbing. Some may have walls that may not reach the ceiling, which are sometimes called three-quarter length. Soft lofts will tend to look more like traditional apartments and are usually more energy efficient than a hard loft.

Open Concept - The open concept loft will have no walls and high ceilings. This concept creates the ability to design your own environment within your living space. The open concept is one of the most attractive features of lofts. It provides you with the freedom to construct your space suitable for a variety of functions. Your space is defined by use rather than by walls. Without walls all the rooms share space from their neighboring rooms, which will then perceive a larger total living space.

Vertical Nature - In order to be a true loft, there must be vertical space -- High Ceilings! Existing tall ceilings came from the original conversion of old factories and warehouses. Large floor to ceiling windows were also part of this original construction which highlights the vertical nature. The High ceilings and large windows emphasize the vertical nature of the loft and creates an overall feeling of spaciousness.

New Hard Loft - With the high demand for lofts... and the lack of available buildings suitable for authentic industrial style loft conversion, we now have "new hard " lofts. Loft developers say the four main features that define a loft are the high ceilings, open spaces, exposed building materials and big windows. Developers are now replicating these main features. New hard lofts will duplicate the authentic details of a hard loft with the additional improvement of being more energy efficient.

Bi-Level - A duplex or bi-level loft is a loft that has a second mezzanine level that overlooks the floor below. A loft does not necessarily have to have 2 levels.

Raw Loft - A loft space that is unfinished. A raw loft may not include a kitchen, toilet or sink. If the loft lacks a bathroom then communal facilities would be available. Most newly renovated "raw" lofts include their own bathroom. Raw is used to describe a loft with no or few amenities. In a raw loft everything from heating and plumbing pipes to brick walls and wiring will be exposed.

Parking - Older lofts are frequently without parking. Some buildings will have a partnership with parking complex nearby, but these are generally a set lease, and there’s no guarantee it will be renewed.

Private Outdoor Space - Also rare, especially in older warehouse conversion lofts.

Great on Resale/Rentals - Let’s end on a positive, there’s low supply and high demand for lofts in Vancouver. This is because they aren’t really being built anymore, and there are only so many old buildings that can be converted. Resulting in great resale and high rental rates.

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edited by: Brook Ewert