Unlocking Value In NYC: Converting a Multi-Family To Single-Family Home

Unpacking the options when converting a multi-family residence to a single family in NYC, along with the benefits of speaking with a design-build firm prior to the conversion.

August 31, 2023


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Unlocking Value In NYC: Converting a Multi-Family To Single-Family Home

Traditional New York City renovations are complicated enough. So, when converting a multi-family to single-family, make sure to weigh your options before moving too far along in the process.

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One of the more sought after property types in NYC are townhomes. Opposed to smaller real estate options scattered throughout the city, these spacious abodes offer plenty of advantages. Beyond potential for a backyard, multi-story living, and roof decks, these larger properties offer the opportunity to offset expenses by creating a sublet for rentals. By reconfiguring what was once a three or four family townhome into fewer units, homeowners can unlock a ton of value and still have plenty of room to call their own. 

[#Options]What Options Are Available?[#Options] 

While many townhome owners prefer maintaining all units as one, there are various alternatives to consider. With a three or four family unit, various configurations are possible. Oftentimes, owners will turn the lower-level garden space to be a rental, while the rest of the floors are owner-occupied. With their expanded property lines and buildable square footage, townhomes also offer the option of adding space via an extension, like the one we did during this brownstone renovation in Carroll Gardens.  

For the owner, they’re already under the mindset of taking on a full gut renovation of a 3000- 4000 square foot property, so accommodating a reconfiguration should realistically be done in tandem to avoid additional unnecessary work down the line. That’s where Gallery comes in. 

[#How-Does]How Does A Design-Build Firm Help With Multi-Family Townhouse Conversions?[#How-Does] 

There are various reasons a design-build firm like Gallery is the right choice when considering a townhouse conversion. We help potential buyers vet their purchase early on, confirming the feasibility of their vision. We'll review the property’s zoning requirements, along with FAR ratios to determine the amount of buildable square footage available. We also identify any potential obstacles ahead of time, providing plenty of time to consider workarounds. 

With such a thorough investigation, we can offer potential clients accurate cost and timeline estimates, while also presenting additional options in terms of what’s possible within the constructible area. For someone looking to purchase a townhome with plans to convert, a deep dive that can manage expectations up front is essential to maximizing the property’s value. 

Brooklyn brownstone where we created an owner’s quadplex with separate garden studio apartment for rental unit. View the full renovation before and after.

[#Biggest]The Biggest Determinant In Your Townhome Renovation & Conversion[#Biggest] 

In the case of a townhome, the width of the property will oftentimes dictate the ideal layout inside, specifically in regards to the kitchen. For instance, are you able to do a kitchen and dining in one space? Should you separate them? Townhomes are typically built with a common width, ranging from 16 feet wide to 25 feet wide. However, 16 to 18 feet and 20 feet are the most common widths. Anyone experienced with townhome renovations should be able to confirm much of what can and cannot be done, strictly based on the width of the townhome. For example, having a dining room side-by-side with the kitchen (like you see in this Manhattan loft renovation we did in Hell’s Kitchen) would not be possible in a 15-foot-wide townhouse. That set-up requires a width of roughly 20 square feet. 

By knowing these parameters in advance, we’re able to work with our clients to reset expectations and accommodate the most appropriate vision for the space possible. 

[#Additional]Additional Considerations When Renovating[#Additional] 

Another consideration early on in the conversation is finding the best way to utilize the home in terms of space planning and configuring the proportion of the newly-proposed units. Will there be two floors over two floors? Three over one? There may even be considerations for aging parents, or family members who will be living there in separate but attached quarters.

Once we’ve established the potential of the space plus any perceived obstacles, we’ll then come to terms with our client and formally partner together for the renovation. From there, we help them formally change the certificate of occupancy to complete the formalities, then we embark on the rest of our full-service design-build process and complete the conversion. 

Kitchen and breakfast nook from Manhattan townhouse renovation on the UES. View the full renovation before and after.


No matter the configuration goal, converting a multi-family townhome into a single or double family occupancy poses a variety of ways for homeowners to increase the value of their already revered property. The key, however, is proper planning and expectation setting with support from a trusted and experienced renovation partner. 

Considering a townhouse or brownstone renovation in New York City? View our portfolio of NYC townhouse renovation before and afters, learn more about Gallery, or contact us today.

We are an award-winning design-build firm in New York City with a full-service approach to renovations in Manhattan and Brooklyn that includes everything from interior design and architecture services to filing permits and construction management. We’re experts in pre-war apartment renovations, apartment combinations, room creations, full gut renovations and all that falls in between. Let us bring your dream home to life.

Marketing Director

Ben Bowdonhttps://www.gallerykbny.com/authors/ben-b

Ben Bowdon is the Marketing Director of Gallery KBNY, a full service design-build firm specializing in the design and interior renovation of apartments, townhomes, and lofts in NYC. For over a decade, Ben has navigated the ever-changing landscape of online marketing, delivering digital strategy solutions for companies of all sizes, until finding a permanent home with Gallery. As lead brand champion and curator, the proud Western Michigan Bronco strives to deliver thoughtful, industry-leading expertise to Gallery’s esteemed clientele via the most seamless omnichannel experience possible.




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