Author Topic: Stacked Single Family Home  (Read 619 times)

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Offline BC_cheque

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Stacked Single Family Home
« on: March 23, 2018, 01:57:34 pm »
I saw a discussion around this topic the other day.  I know it doesn't apply to most parts of Canada but for cities like Toronto and Vancouver I think it's a worthy discussion given that they are growing rapidly in population and space is limited. 

Of course it doesn't help when offshore speculators buy real estate and leave them empty, but that's for another discussion.  For the sake of this argument, let's assume houses and condos are occupied.

Does the single family unit still make sense or is it a relic of the past?  They take up so much resources but do they give back enough? 

Unfortunately, condos and townhouses are getting smaller and smaller in size and not really fit to raise a family, but what if there was a middle ground?  What if our towers had fewer units but more square footage, including several bedrooms, and a family room in addition to a living room.

The idea would be to have multi-family units of 1800-3000 square feet on top of each other, priced above condos but less than houses.  Developers could still profit from rezoning the land and so many people wouldn't have to choose between long commutes or having space.

Is there any reason, other than developer greed, that we don't already see this happening?
« Last Edit: March 23, 2018, 02:00:27 pm by BC_cheque »

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Offline ?Impact

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Re: Stacked Single Family Home
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2018, 02:10:16 pm »
The idea would be to have multi-family units of 1800-3000 square feet on top of each other, priced above condos but less than houses.

I think you just described the flats so popular in Montreal that have been around since the early 1900's. Most however are limited to 2-3 units tall, and either single or double wide (ie. 2-6 units in a building). The vast majority of buildings are in a row, but there are also many semi-attached and detached buildings as well. I would say they are smaller on average than what you are looking for. If you wanted to go higher, you would need more infrastructure like elevators, lobbies, and these days parking.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2018, 02:24:23 pm by ?Impact »

Offline BC_cheque

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Re: Stacked Single Family Home
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2018, 02:18:08 pm »
I think you just described the flats so popular in Montreal that have been around since the early 1900's. Most however are limited to 2-3 units tall, and either single or double wide (ie. 2-6 units in a building). The vast majority of buildings are in a row, but there are also many semi-attached and detached buildings as well. If you wanted to go higher, you would need more infrastructure like elevators, lobbies, and these days parking.

Yeah, I was wondering what the obstacles are.  The way I imagined them is one unit per floor so that you get all the benefits of a house (windows on all sides for example as well as privacy), maybe solariums instead of balconies since they're geared toward families, and elevators and multi-floor parking just like all other condo towers we see. 

So basically, there is nothing holding back the concept structurally, it just comes down to what developers want to do to maximize profit. 



Offline msj

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Re: Stacked Single Family Home
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2018, 02:28:39 pm »
Meh, I don't think it is possible to have a decent conversation about housing in Canada until the tide goes out so we can see who is swimming naked.

And by that I mean let's see what house prices are like when CIBC is getting bailed out by the feds, interest rates are 2% points higher and unemployment is running at 10.8%.

Otherwise, this is just an exercise in blaming foreigners (for over buying and under renting), city councils (for under developing) and devolpers (for being "greedy" - whateverTF that means  ::)  ). 


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Offline BC_cheque

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Re: Stacked Single Family Home
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2018, 02:48:54 pm »
Meh, I don't think it is possible to have a decent conversation about housing in Canada until the tide goes out so we can see who is swimming naked.

And by that I mean let's see what house prices are like when CIBC is getting bailed out by the feds, interest rates are 2% points higher and unemployment is running at 10.8%.

Otherwise, this is just an exercise in blaming foreigners (for over buying and under renting), city councils (for under developing) and devolpers (for being "greedy" - whateverTF that means  ::)  ).

Damn, msj, I used to think you're a pretty smart guy.  You don't know what developer greed means even in the context of 'wanting to maximize profit'?

And I'm not talking about prices of homes.  Even if the bottom falls and housing prices fall 50%, I think this idea makes sense given the limits of land and population growth in major cities.

There will always be people who insist on having a lawn and they can buy their houses and do all the upkeep that comes with it.  This concept is for people who want all the benefits of a condo as well as a house and are willing to pay a little less and have a middle ground.

I don't blame developer greed because that's what any company is supposed to do, but maybe non-profit or government agencies can take on the task of building these structures. 

I honestly think single family units in urban centres are a waste of resources. 

Offline ?Impact

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Re: Stacked Single Family Home
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2018, 02:53:38 pm »
Windows on all sides, and privacy, means a lot of land. Detached houses get their privacy from hedges and trees, but build above 3-4 stories and you no longer have that. The last high rise I lived in (35 years ago) was twin buildings facing each other separated by a 200' courtyard. I don't think you would want to be any closer than that to have the feel of privacy, and certainly that didn't feel as private as a detached house separated by 20' or less from its neighbour. High rises also mean large shadows to block the sun.

Elevators are not cheap (both to build and maintain), and you generally want at least 2 of them in case one is broken or being used for people moving. If you only had one unit per floor, the cost of elevators might be very significant.

Offline BC_cheque

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Re: Stacked Single Family Home
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2018, 02:58:30 pm »
Windows on all sides, and privacy, means a lot of land. Detached houses get their privacy from hedges and trees, but build above 3-4 stories and you no longer have that. The last high rise I lived in (35 years ago) was twin buildings facing each other separated by a 200' courtyard. I don't think you would want to be any closer than that to have the feel of privacy, and certainly that didn't feel as private as a detached house separated by 20' or less from its neighbour. High rises also mean large shadows to block the sun.

Elevators are not cheap (both to build and maintain), and you generally want at least 2 of them in case one is broken or being used for people moving. If you only had one unit per floor, the cost of elevators might be very significant.

Fair points.  I think for having high rises you also have to be on certain major roads.  The 2-3 floor ones could work in the same way as a side-by-side duplex in a residential area, just stacked. 

The idea is to use the lots for more than one family.  In the last few decades I saw Greater Vancouver pretty much double in size and estimates say another 1.2 million people by the year 2040!

Something has to give.

Offline TimG

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Re: Stacked Single Family Home
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2018, 03:01:08 pm »
Have 3-4 story house going up in my neighborhood on a narrow lot. Builder told me it was ~500K in material and labour for the building.
I was floored.
If building a new building on free land costs 500K then no property collapse is likely to make housing affordable.
We need to ask why it is so expensive to build a building in the first place.

 

Offline BC_cheque

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Re: Stacked Single Family Home
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2018, 03:07:29 pm »
Have 3-4 story house going up in my neighborhood on a narrow lot. Builder told me it was ~500K in material and labour for the building.
I was floored.
If building a new building on free land costs 500K then no property collapse is likely to make housing affordable.
We need to ask why it is so expensive to build a building in the first place.

True, how do other cities manage to sell houses so much cheaper? 

Offline BC_cheque

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Re: Stacked Single Family Home
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2018, 05:47:37 pm »
Tim, just to add to my earlier post...

I am not concerned about price, I'm talking strictly about limited amounts of land.  Vancouver was 1.2 million in population in the early 80's, 2.5 million in 2016 and projected to be 3.7 in about 20 years. 

Houses are now being built with mortgage helpers and coach houses to increase density, but I have yet to see the idea of building multi-family homes stacked on each other as an alternative.

Taking price and empty units out of the equation, it still makes sense to provide an in-between option to those who want to live close to the city, have space, but not necessarily as a single-family unit.

Offline Queefer Sutherland

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Re: Stacked Single Family Home
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2018, 07:00:01 pm »
Tim, just to add to my earlier post...

I am not concerned about price, I'm talking strictly about limited amounts of land.  Vancouver was 1.2 million in population in the early 80's, 2.5 million in 2016 and projected to be 3.7 in about 20 years. 

Houses are now being built with mortgage helpers and coach houses to increase density, but I have yet to see the idea of building multi-family homes stacked on each other as an alternative.

Taking price and empty units out of the equation, it still makes sense to provide an in-between option to those who want to live close to the city, have space, but not necessarily as a single-family unit.

Living in a very dense part of a dense city is a nightmare to me.  I could only enjoy it for a short while, not longterm.  I'd never want to raise a family in the kind of building/environment being described, it sounds like a dystopia to me.  I like some space to breathe, I think a lot of families like so too so the idea wouldn't be popular unless housing prices in place like Vancouver make it necessary.
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Offline TimG

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Re: Stacked Single Family Home
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2018, 07:28:49 pm »
I am not concerned about price, I'm talking strictly about limited amounts of land.  Vancouver was 1.2 million in population in the early 80's, 2.5 million in 2016 and projected to be 3.7 in about 20 years.
Behold Vancouver's future:


Offline SirJohn

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Re: Stacked Single Family Home
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2018, 08:53:43 pm »
Have 3-4 story house going up in my neighborhood on a narrow lot. Builder told me it was ~500K in material and labour for the building.
I was floored.
If building a new building on free land costs 500K then no property collapse is likely to make housing affordable.
We need to ask why it is so expensive to build a building in the first place.

It doesn't cost that for the materials. New houses today are made of cardboard. I've watched them put up a lot of them around me since I moved in. They're nothing but wooden frames with some pressboard over them, plastic insulation and vinyl siding (with stone on the front side). And these are $600-$800k homes.

It's the land and the army of lawyers that costs money. The permits take lots of time to negotiate and come with lots of conditions and fees to the developer.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2018, 08:57:28 pm by SirJohn »
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Offline BC_cheque

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Re: Stacked Single Family Home
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2018, 11:16:50 pm »
Tim said specifically the $500K was labour and materials.  It does seem high though.

Offline BC_cheque

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Re: Stacked Single Family Home
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2018, 11:23:32 pm »
Living in a very dense part of a dense city is a nightmare to me.  I could only enjoy it for a short while, not longterm.  I'd never want to raise a family in the kind of building/environment being described, it sounds like a dystopia to me.  I like some space to breathe, I think a lot of families like so too so the idea wouldn't be popular unless housing prices in place like Vancouver make it necessary.

I know it wouldn't be for everyone but the reality is our big cities are becoming very populous and single family units aren't exactly conducive to metropolitan centres unless, as you say, people have a lot of money. 

Prices may correct, but with so many newcomers every year, in the decades to come most people will be priced out of the single family home anywhere near a city of 3-4 million. 

People like you will migrate to smaller cities or the suburbs, but for people who don't mind raising a family in the city there would be an alternative between space or distance.  Right now the only condos being built are geared toward double-income, no kid families with relatively small square footage.

Like you I would be more apt to move away from the city but I think it's a great option to provide to those who want to stay.