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  • Refurbish/Develop

    Total novice, Church into flats, feet first!!

    Hi There. I've been frantically scouring the internet for advice and landed here, I'm looking for advice in regards to a purchase I have made in regards to a old disused church here in Glasgow.

    I run a few busy garages here and have always been told property is the next step but always preferred the motor trade, I came across a old church going up for sale and had always fancied it for a children's soft play or nursery, Though I have zero experience in both.

    I had to put my offer in which was way below the guide price and managed to secure the property, Its a 7500 sqft Church with a 3000 sqft added on hall attached to it with the rear and side gardens probably measuring 5000 sqft as well. Unfortunately I had to buy it blind and have passed the building on many occasions and always liked its city centre location but never got to see inside it.

    There is no restrictions on the property, It is not a listed building and there is no cemetery on the property.

    Yesterday I went into the building with 2 friends both being joiners one does domestic work and one does large project stuff like schools and hospitals, When we got inside the building has been stripped bare of all fittings, A lot of windows have been smashed and the building is quite dilapidated, The add on hall is in bad condition with half the roof collapsed in on its self and it is causing the walls to pull inwards.

    The general layout is not going to be any use for my original idea of a soft play due to the lay out, And both my friends suggested due to the property size I should look into either converting the property into flats or demolishing the entire building and building new flats and would have off street parking as well due to size, Something which is quite rare given the city centre location.

    The problem I have is I have no clue where to start and my friends weren't too sure either, They advised maybe getting a structural engineer to look at the buildings and a architect to do some drawings too see what the best route to go down is, I was hoping someone on here could guide me in the right direction as to what steps to take next as I'm starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of the project.

    Typical flats in the area sell for around 60k for a 2 bedroom flat with no parking, It is very close to a collage and good transport links with a train station being 200 meters away.

    Sorry for the long winded post but I was just trying to add as much information as possible & any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.

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    Wow! A brave decision. But might be v wise. Without seeing the church it t is difficult to state anything with confidence. But churches make great conversions. Interesting spaces, many features can be retained. And relatively simple as no need to deal with existing internal walls - a church is basically a volume of space defined by its walls and roof. Many such conversions  in London. I was looking to buy a church in Southampton recently with a view to converting into houses. But I didn't get it.

    The main issues generally are: listing (if any), change of use,any features that planners want retained,  then all the other planning matters like amenity, car parking, impact, etc etc. One has to go the motions.

    Change of use is critical. From what you describe the bldgs are dilapidated - this might be help your case . sounds quite interesting. Would you have any pictures you could email?

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    I'm more comfortable taking leaps of faith in the car auctions but it's something different.

    Here are some pictures I have found only, There is easily another 10 quite largesized rooms in the downstairs bit that you cannot see from the pictures.

    Edit, It wont let me post likes as I have just joined, If you send me over your email address I will send you over the pictures and layouts.

    Thanks.

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    Hi Kenneth,

    Welcome to the tribe!

    You have certainly taken on a big project imho!! 

    The best thing you could do in the first instance is to arrange to meet the council planning officer at the building and ask them what the local authority's view would be on turning it into residential.

    I would also recommend getting the building water tight and weather proof to stop further deterioration.

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    Good advice from other posters. Have secured the property at a good price. I would look to secure and tidy  the site and immediately remarket with an agent experienced in this type of property.

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    We have carried out a couple of developments like this. One was a church on a very prominent site, the church was an absolute wreck so we demolished it (this was no mean feat as it had an 80ft spire). Our intention was to redevelop in flats however, like you, you can still buy a flat locally for £60-65k which is less than the build cost so flattened the site out, improved the access, fence it and let it as a car sales site. The trader does really well and is likely to be there long-term.

    With your experience in the motor trade, this might be an option, alternatively i would get outline consent for residential or retail (or both) and flip the site.

    Good luck.


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    Phil Stewardson.

    Stewardson Properties.

    Stewardson Developments Ltd.

    Burson Land Ltd. & Jennings & Gilchreaste Ltd.

    http://www.stewardson.co.uk

    Follow me on twitter - @philstewardson


    Hi Phil,

    I don't think a car sales outlet would work due to the location and the fact that it is quite residential, I have no idea of build costs but I would imagine laid out right then the space could fit a fair amount of flats, Just depends what the cost would be per unit I suppose. I have money that I could use to build them as well do don't need funding as such.


    Thanks.

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    You could always sell an option to a local developer.

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    We've taken on several church conversions in the south-west and there have been different issues with each.  I would advise the following:

    1.  Although the building may not be listed, check on its covenants.  It is common for commissioners to sell off redundant churches cheaply with a covenant to ensure that any future uplift in value is shared.  Also, given its community history, when you try to change its use, be ready for plenty of local interest - both positive and negative.

    2.  If after due diligence you reckon a residential conversion is viable, get planning permission and then consider either an outright sale to a local developer or a Joint Venture.

    3.  A Joint Venture can offer the advantages of being more profitable than an outright sale as well as an opportunity to learn from your JV partner. 

    4.  Given the various reasons for which churches were originally built and the way they were financed, use an experienced solicitor if you do a Joint Venture or (if you  build-out yourself) for the final residential sales & creation of joint freehold.

    Good luck!


    Judith

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