Thoughts About Acquiring a Victorian Mansion

[Editors Note: this is an old posting, but the content seems valuable, so we decided to leave it in the blog]

I’m thinking about selling my current facility and relocating one block down the street to a Victorian mansion. The mansion has been on the market for several months. When it first came on the market, the asking price was $400,000. This price has dropped to $379,000. I am reasonably certain that I could acquire it for $325,000.

My B&B was sold by the 1st innkeeper/owner to the 2nd innkeeper/owner in 2000 for $300,000 as a fully furnished turn-key operation. The 2nd owner sold the facility to me in 2004 for roughly 1/3rd LESS than what she paid for it.

She also raided the inn and absconded with most of the furnishings.

The B&B has been refurbished with antiques and our occupancy has doubled and then tripled since I became the owner. I am reasonably certain that I could sell my B&B for $325,000.

The mansion in question is an 7 bedroom house. It has beautiful wooden drawing doors and some nice wooden paneling. The foyer is quite impressive and opens to a nice sized parlor. The parlor connects to a dining room and library (that could be converted to a dining room).

The library connects to a large office and bathroom.

The dining room connects to a spacious kitchen with a family dining area.

There are 5 bedrooms on the 2nd floor and 2 bedrooms on the 3rd. Most of these bedrooms are quite spacious and should easily accomodate a queen or king sized bed.

The floors are hardwood though the current owner has covered them under some rather tacky carpets. I do not know what condition the floors are in.

Sadly – only 1 bedroom on the 2nd floor has a private bathroom. There’s a huge clawfoot tub at the end of the 2nd floor hallway with a wrap around shower but I’d hate to have anyone share a bathroom. The rooms are certainly spacious enough to accomodate bathrooms – though the conversions are bound to be expensive.

The two bedrooms on the 3rd floor also share a bathroom. One of the bedrooms could actually be a small suite and if necessary, a door could be installed and the rest of the floor could be blocked off for the innkeeper’s quarters.

The mansion could become a country inn with an attached restaurant. If I acquired this property, I’d convert the kitchen into a commercial kitchen and the family dining area would become part of the kitchen.

The dining room and library would be furnished with small 2 person tables that could be pushed together for larger parties.

The office/bathroom would be converted into two 50 sq. ft. handicapped accessible bathrooms. (I actually have to measure this area to see if the sq. footage is adequate). The restaurant code requires a minimum of two 50 sq. ft. bathrooms.

As much as I would love to have a parlor, the parlor would most likely become a dining room.

I’d initally have one bedroom with an attached bathroom for rent.

If we could relocate the toilet in the shared bathroom, a doorway could be installed in the adjoining bedroom. I’d also install a doorway on the 3rd floor to block access to my private quarters. This would give me three bedrooms to start.

I’d launch this business as a country inn with a 30 person capacity fine dining restaurant and three bedrooms with private bathrooms. (One bedroom would be a small suite). Our primary income would be derived from the restaurant operation. (I envision fine dining in elegant surroundings … something on the order of French/exotic game).

If the restaurant was successful, income from the restaurant could be used to remodel the bedrooms.

The facility would eventually become a 5 bedroom country inn. (One of the bedrooms on the 2nd floor is really too small to accomodate a bathroom).

During the late spring, summer, and early fall, the wide porch on the back could become a bistro with outdoor seating for diners.

Given the size of these bedrooms, I’d be able to sell rooms with king sized beds for at least $125 compared to the $90 I charge now.

I plan to revisit this building next week with a contractor to discuss remodeling estimates.

If I choose to pursue this venture, I will most likely offer my current business for sale either as a single family dwelling or as a turnkey business.

It wouldn’t bother me to have competition down the street since the bread and butter of my new business would actually be the restaurant as opposed to lodging accomodations.

I would be happy to hear any thoughts, suggestions, advice, or concerns regarding the conversion of a Victorian mansion into a country inn.
Inn at Elizabethville

2 thoughts on “Thoughts About Acquiring a Victorian Mansion”

  1. I almost hate to say this – but it would actually be more cost effective to eliminate all lodging and just open a restaurant.
    If I knocked out walls between bedrooms on the 2nd floor, I could have small banquet rooms with 2 additional bathrooms for use on this floor.
    The mansion used to have a dumbwaiter. I saw the opening for one on the 3rd floor but would have to find out where the opening was on the 2nd. I suspect it was covered up during the last remodeling project.
    If I went this route, we wouldn’t be a lodging facility at all. We’d be a full scale restaurant.
    By eliminating all bedrooms, I wouldn’t have to worry about housekeeping. I also wouldn’t have to worry about what I’d do for breakfast. If I was working as the restaurant chef/manager – I certainly wouldn’t want to make breakfasts since the hours would be ghastly … but if I didn’t make breakfast, I’d have to hire someone to do this. Since the restaurant has a commercial kitchen, whoever was hired would have to have a food handler’s certificate.
    If the restaurant was only open five days a week, this would also beg the question – who would make breakfast on days the restaurant was closed? Not me.
    During the last two years I’ve been an innkeeper, I’ve worked 8 and 9 month stretches with no days off at all.
    The more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to simply open a restaurant and not have a B&B. The profit potential is better and I’d have two days off a week.
    Inn at Elizabethville

  2. [Editor’s Note: A week later he posted this comment.]
    I have decided not to buy this facility.
    The two 50 sq. foot bathrooms won’t fit in the available space and the owner won’t budge too much on the asking price to make this worth while. Then again, to meet the owner’s asking price, I’d have to sell my facility and who knows how long that could take?
    I will continue operating my B&B which is just becoming profitable.
    Since this facility was mismanaged, this wouldn’t have been the ideal time to sell it. This B&B is just recovering from near bankruptcy and I’ll get a much better price on it if I can successful operate it for a few more years. The extra time will document increased occupancy rates and the ability of this facility to turn an annual profit.
    In time, I could also open a restaurant on site at my present location.
    I could expand the kitchen into our only ground floor bedroom. I could eliminate the former master bedroom and turn this into an upstairs parlor. (The current parlor could become a third dining room). I could also eliminate our smallest bedroom in favor of having a combination walk in housekeeper closet and employee locker room.
    If I did this, I’d wind up with a 30 person capacity restaurant with 4 guest bedrooms.
    Inn at Elizabethville

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