When selecting a property for the purpose of renovating into a medical space, the process is not as easy as one might think. Older properties can have unexpected issues that can lead to project delays. In this blog we provide insights into some of the common issues buyers can face when converting a residential property to a medical space.
What permits are needed for the residential to medical conversion?
There is a common misconception that a council planning permit is enough to use the space as a medical centre. A planning permit is only the first step to ensuring you have a compliant space to use as a medical clinic. Further permits are required to ensure the structure is suitable to be used as a clinical space. Having said that, some properties do not need a planning permit. Advice should be sought prior to purchase, as this will save you a lot of time if it isn’t required.
A house structure is built to a different building classification than a medical centre and therefore a separate permit is required. This ensures that the building structure is suitable as is (or requires upgrading) to suit the change in use.
Heritage permits will also be needed if the property is heritage listed and it is worth noting that there will be limitations to what can be done to the property.
Factors affecting the demand for residential to medical property conversion
There are a few reasons why interest in residential property conversion is growing within the medical sector. When doctors, surgeons and specialists are looking to secure a site for their next medical practice, they are facing the following challenges:
- Land is scarce particularly in inner city and established suburbs.
- Limited availability of commercial property that is suitable for medical use.
- Generally, a cost-effective option to own your medical practice compared to undertaking a new build project.
- A preference to renovate, as clients expect a quicker project turnaround.
A property may meet all the buyer’s criteria in terms of location, condition, development potential and access. What buyers may not know, is the amount of work that could be involved to bring the property up to the current building standard. When purchasing property with the intent to convert to a medical space, seeking professional advice from a registered builder familiar with the design and construction requirements for medical spaces, is always recommended.
Why a pre-purchase property inspection is necessary
A pre-purchase property inspection should occur in the initial stages of the buying process. A thorough review helps the buyer make an informed decision before any financial commitment is made.
The process not only identifies potential issues with the building, land, or its location, but goes a step further to assess the property’s development potential to convert it into a medical space.
When assessing a residential property for medical use the following factors should be considered:
- Is council approval required and if so, what is the likelihood that it will be granted?
- Is there ample space under roofline to accommodate the client’s plans for the space?
- Will the land size and building position meet minimum car parking requirements?
- Is there space internally and externally to ensure it is disability compliant?
- What upgrades are required to unsure the building meets the current building code and what this the estimate it is likely to cost?
- Would a property knock down and rebuild make better long-term and economic sense?
It can be expected that properties of a certain age are likely to uncover something unexpected. Some of challenges we come across with older properties include unstable floors and building foundations, leaking or damaged roofs, rising damp, mould, and poor drainage.
From a health perspective, older homes are highly likely to contain asbestos and up until the late 1960’s, the use of highly concentrated lead paint was the norm. These contaminants if left untouched, are regarded as low risk to human health. However, once disturbed they require extremely careful management and the services of professionals to ensure its safe removal.
Uncovering issues with a property may be disheartening for the buyer, but it is always best to know upfront. The builder should be able to provide guidance and an estimate on costs, so that the client can evaluate if the project is worth proceeding with, or alternatively look at other properties that could be better suited.
Post-purchase property inspections
Clients who have already purchased a property can still benefit from a property or site inspection. The project consultants at Eagleheart can advise on:
- The best use for the space.
- Suggested floor-plans.
- Works required to meet the current building code.
- Requirements for disability compliance.
- Minimum car parking ratios.
Unfortunately, some clients are in disbelief when they discover the amount of building works needed to meet the requirements for a medical practice. That is why assessing the property before buying is always the best option.
What Eagleheart offers
At Eagleheart, we specialise in the design and construction of medical spaces. We offer full end-to-end project management that begins at the start of our client’s project journey. As part of our service, we offer clients an obligation free onsite property inspection. We can also coordinate the necessary building checks, pest inspections and professional services should our clients wish to engage with us.
Our pre-purchase site inspections are an honest evaluation of the property by our experienced team of project consultants. We help doctors, surgeons and specialists find their preferred site or property. Most importantly we ensure it can achieve your vision and expectation for your next medical practice, radiology, or specialist clinic.
Eagleheart also helps our clients with their property search, and should we find a site that may be suitable, connect our clients to the property agent.
If you would like Eagleheart to undertake a site inspection or have future plans for a medical space, contact us on 1800 324 534.