Got a Crazy Idea!

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09/24/2008

I've been lurking on this site for a couple of days, reading lots of interesting stuff.

I own an old building in the historical district of my town.  I have a custom framing/art gallery on the ground floor.  The second story has a nice little apartment that needs some TLC.  My renter moved out about 2 months ago and my dh and I have been renovating (gutting) since.

I have this fear of renting it out again because of how much damage the previous renter did.  We guesstimate we're going to spend approximately 8thou to get it where I want it.  

3 different people suggested either an executive apartment or a BB.  I think it is a great idea.  

Does anyone have their BB located in a downtown building?  How about suggested reading material about starting a BB?  Thanks in advance for any info. 

seashanty's picture
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06/02/2008

i don't know your location.  it often sounds like an easy thing to do 'just open a bed and breakfast' and it may depend on where you are ... some places seem pretty easy going, esp it it's just a room or two.  in maine, we have so many rules, regulations, laws, bylaws, zoning reg's, etc. that i despaired at first. 

hey, my son is looking for a long term rental and he is non destructive, makes good money, is a quiet, non-smoker, non-drinker ... keeps his place clean as he is sensitive to dust, pollen and pet dander. 

JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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05/22/2008

Does the health dept inspect your rental?

That gives you part of the answer to the 'didn't know a B&B would be diff to a rental in zoning.'

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swirt's picture
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05/17/2008

Let me add this to the perspective.  You are concerned about the long term rental getting trashed and what it would take to clean and repair it. From what you describe I would ballpark that it would take 2 full weeks to gut the thing and replace carpet, repair walls and other damages if the place were completely trashed.  On the B&B side it takes roughly an hour a day to flip the place.  Sure some days might be only a 20 minute fluff but then other days you'll discover something damaged or ruined or something that just needs repair.  If the B&B were very successful (lets say 50% occupancy) in a year that would be 180room nights x 1hr so you'd have 180 hours per year logged just in cleaning (does not include marketing and dealing with reservations, cooking or guest communication).  So even if you gutted the apartment every year that would only be 80hours as opposed to cleaning it at 50% occupancy would be more than twice that.

There are reasons to run a B&B and reasons to not run a B&B, but if you are looking at it as being a time savings, it is not.

YellowSocks's picture
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05/22/2008

Mrs.B wrote:
Does anyone have their BB located in a downtown building?  How about suggested reading material about starting a BB?  Thanks in advance for any info. 

Maybe not on this forum, but there's every kind of B&B out there.  My town has some "B&B Suites" that are mini barns.  Each has a queen bed, sitting area, 2 person whirlpool tub and kitchenette.  Breakfast is a coupon to the chain restaurant next door.  They're not traditional, but they fill a niche.  There are B&B's in downtowns, farms, cabins, lighthouses, trains, and actual houses.  Some serve continental, some serve full seated gourmet, some give you a basket.

Here's how I did my research:

1) Go to your library, read everything they have.

2) Go on Amazon, buy what your library doesn't have, or get it through interlibrary loan.

3) Read every post ever posted on here.

4) Check with your local officials... no zoning, no B&B.  Theorectically, if you can have an apartment you can do a B&B, but you gotta check.  In my town there is R1 zoning where you can't even have an apartment.  I'm in R4 which allows multi-family, and I started out as essentially a boarding house.  Talk to the people, work with them, make sure all your t's are crossed and your i's are dotted.

5) Call innkeepers and short term rental owners in your area and make an appointment to interview them.  I learned a ton by touring different B&B's and talking with the owners.  But you must make an appointment and respect the innkeeper's time.

Your downtown sounds great.  I thought maybe you were talking about my downtown until you got to the two restaurants and the renovated dinner theatre.  Not here!

Good luck and Welcome !

=)
Kk.

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05/22/2008

Opening a B & B is more than just opening up your place instead of a rental. As others said, check zoning. B & B usually means the owner is there and interacting with guests, serving breakfast, playing concierge..it is more than just renting out a room and handing them some coffee and a muffin in the morning. Do some research first.

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09/24/2008

I didn't think the zoning would be any different for a rental than for a BB.  I will check that out first.  My insurance man was one who suggested I look into doing a BB!

There are 18 buildings in my block and only 2 use their 2nd floor for rentals.  Both of those are very nice loft apartments.  Mine was the $65 a week hole in the wall.  And before everyone starts thinking I was a slum lord, let me explain.

I bought my building from a young woman who had big ideas when she purchased it.  She just didn't have the money to renovate it and was in way over her head.  She had lived in the apt upstairs for 3 years and wanted to stay for a couple of months.  It turned into 2 years.  The apartment wasn't in the best of shape and I didn't feel right charging her the going rate for a decent apt ('cause it wasn't) hence the $65 rent.  She also had 2 bassett hounds who were at best "sort of" housebroken.

Like I said, things are starting to change downtown and I'm a part of that.  I guess if it didn't work out I could always look for a long term renter.  I'm just scared I'll get one that won't play nice and trash the place.

JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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Mrs.B wrote:

I didn't think the zoning would be any different for a rental than for a BB.  I will check that out first.  My insurance man was one who suggested I look into doing a BB!

 

 

Morticia's picture
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05/22/2008

Zoning...a B&B is inherently different from an apt rental. Long term rentals are subject to a lot of housing laws that B&B's can skirt. There are multiple 'Inn the News' segments on here that focus on surrounding home owners fighting a B&B because they 'don't know who will be coming into the neighborhood at night'. They think B&B's are a step up from brothels, and not a big step. So you really should check to see if you'll be faced with opposition from any other businesses or tenants in the area.

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JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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05/22/2008

Welcome to the forum.

I guess it depends on what is downtown, what sort of downtown, is it a hip place after dark, or do they, like here roll up the sidewalks?  If that is the case why would someone want to stay downtown? I hear ya on the apartment rental scene, I can see you do not want to keep cleaning up after renters.

Secondly, a B&B needs to be defined by your local officials there, so go to your town/city office and find out what is required.  The second B is required for any B&B.  Many required an innkeeper to live on the premises.  Insurance companies require an innkeeper to live in the premises.  Even if there is a B&B in town now, they may be grandfathered in on many angles, so you cannot compare what you want to do with what you do.

So on that, I would check your zoning and all that with the officials to see if it is feasible before spending $ and time on it.

Morticia's picture
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05/22/2008

Someone else on here wants to do that...tired of renters and all the laws. If you are in the downtown of a big enough place that you could get short term rentals, it might work. You may have to provide housekeeping services, either yourself or hired, cooking, again yourself or hired out. How involved did you want to get with this? Would it be easier to find a better long-term tenant? You could make a LOT more money renting by the week to a short termer, but there's more involvement on a day to day basis.

So, ask yourself how much work you want to do, how involved you want to be with 'guests' rather than tenants and whether or not there is a need where you live for what you want to do. Where do short term renters stay now? Can you compete with that?

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09/24/2008

We have a Holiday Inn Express, another big box hotel I can't recall, and some little Mom & Pops.  Nothing that gets anyone excited. 

You're right about more money with the short term renter.  Although the money isn't a huge concern for me because the gallery is supporting itself.  The apartment would pay the property taxes.  It also has a kitchenette, but I would probably offer a voucher for breakfast at a downtown place (we have 2 very nice ones) or a basket continental. 

Our downtown area is revitalizing.  The old theater was purchased a year ago by two guys who sarted renovating and now have dinner theater productions in the foyer.  We have a couple of nice antique shops within 2 blocks, a restaurant celebrating it's 100th birthday this year,etc.

It just seems like the right thing to do.  Most of the other buildings don't utilize their second floor at all.  Or if the do it's a poopy apartment that rents for 65$ a week.

Just lookin' for suggestions!

 

Morticia's picture
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05/22/2008

So who would stay there? The area has to be interesting to the guest. If there are a lot of "65$ a week poopy apartments" I'm assuming there are the tenants who live in the poopy apts hanging around (anything around here renting for $65/week would be Section 8 housing or drug rehab apts).

As long as there is a place to park the rental car and restaurants and activities nearby it's certainly worth a shot. But if there is nothing drawing guests into the HIE and mom & pop places enough to make those folks spruce up their places, you've got to consider what your angle is. How will YOU be different and get them in there? You're looking for your hook. Why they will want to stay with you!

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