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Does Your City Build Attractive Townhomes/Zero Lot Line Homes?
Old 10-05-2008, 01:44 PM   #1
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Does Your City Build Attractive Townhomes/Zero Lot Line Homes?

Seattle has had a run of building small lot zero lot line 3 and 4 story town homes. Some have condominium form legally; others are sold fee simple. Some are vacant lot infills; others on ground where the builder has been able to assemble several old homes to tear down. They are always much nicer than the typical old junk bungalows that make up most of Seattle. Granite, hardwood floors, blah-blah.

Here is one at $310K. It is an old formerly white-working-class but now yuppifying residential neighborhood in the North End where lawyers spend $500K for 80 yo dumps with 1000 sq ft. Medium safe- it is the first neighborhood I lived in when I moved to Seattle years ago. I got burgled there twice in 3 years, but there isn't much murder or rape. And no loiterers blocking the sidewalk. It is maybe 8 miles from city center, with good bus service and lots of shopping within a short drive, but very little in walking distance.

Except for very expensive ones with metal skins or other interesting treatments, they look terrible outside, and the floor plans are sometimes peculiar to say the least. Depending on where they are they sell for about $300k-$600K or more. The more expensive ones usually look better, but not exactly good.

A popular style is called "craftsman". I have no idea why other than it must be some historical NW thing. It mainly means eclectic and confused as to line and form.

Anything nice going up in your cities?


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Old 10-05-2008, 03:00 PM   #2
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"The Craftsman style home was a revolution in American architectural design, and they were built all over the nation between 1905 and 1930. In the late part of the twentieth century, the Craftsman home became popular again, with architects restoring older Craftsman houses and building new replicas. Like many design elements of the Arts and Crafts period, the Craftsman home is a work of art as well as a functioning dwelling. The Craftsman home has a distinctive style which is instantly recognizable to architecture students, contractors, and aficionados of the Arts and Crafts movement.

The Craftsman home was popularized by several designers, including Gustav Stickley, Charles Sumner Greene, and Henry Mather Greene. All of these men were iconic figures in the Arts and Crafts movement, and the Craftsman home became a natural extension of the furniture and art they created. The Craftsman has its roots in the bungalow, a low slung, comfortable home which originates in India.

A Craftsman is characterized by having low, gentle sloping roofs, and being one story tall, although some Craftsmen also have attics and dormers. The house usually has wide eaves above a deep porch which has distinctive square pillars. The roof rafters are traditionally exposed, while the inside of the home has many built-in cabinets, nooks, seating, and shelving. The interior beams of the house are usually exposed and used as decorative elements as well.

Craftsman houses usually have an open floor plan inside, which facilitates the display of large art pieces as well as big gatherings. In addition, the Craftsman house plays with negative space to highlight accents of the home, while also using space very efficiently. Most Craftsman houses also incorporate Arts and Crafts style light fixtures, which are an integral part of the home design, rather than an afterthought. Some also feature stained glass windows, to provide a play of light as well as privacy.

A traditionally built Craftsman is modest, and takes advantage of the site it is located on. Usually the home is positioned to greet the sun, and is surrounded by a large garden. In addition, a Craftsman home uses local materials where possible, and sometimes even materials from the site of the home, such as timber or rock. Natural materials play a big role in the Craftsman style, with local stone lining fireplaces or local woods being used for decorative accents."

Sacramento has been building lots of these little communities:

Front of the house is your front door, back of the house is your garage. Minimal if any yard. Usually some central park concept, in town and walking distance to a lot of retail. Often highly 'green' with solar panels and so forth.

Interesting. They drew in a lot of interest when things were booming along from 2003-2006, principally because they offered a lot of house for the money and the developers sure liked them because they could knock down a couple of buildings and put 70 homes on the lot, 1300-3000 square feet.

Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
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Old 10-05-2008, 04:37 PM   #3
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Here's a link to one near us on the Central Coast:

Willow Creek - Home in the Heart of Old Town Goleta

In a lousy location (surrounded by light industrial and car dealerships) but close to shopping and bus lines.

I find this a fairly attractive high-density development, and it's also got a pretty good human scale.
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Old 10-05-2008, 04:56 PM   #4
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Before Katrina in 2005, a few duplex condos (called "doubles" here) were being built in my area in scattered locations, interspersed between older homes. They are overpriced and have no character compared with other homes in the area. "Who would buy them?" is often asked. The unspoken answer before Katrina was speculators and other out-of-towners.

A very typical example from that is for sale is attached. It (one side) is a 3/2.5/2250 for $369K, and locals feel this sort of price is exorbitant. Usually they run between $300K-$450K, and that is a lot for real estate down here. These condos have granite, hardwoods, and a lot of amenities and are located in a mostly white middleclass inner suburb. They are usually brick, like this one.

Since Katrina and the housing slump, I haven't noticed many new ones being built.
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Old 10-05-2008, 06:50 PM   #5
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ha, the only thing craftsman about that townhouse is the lame brochure dreamed up by some braindead marketer (pardon the redundancy) attempting to evoke a sense in architecture in what is otherwise, basically, three hundred thousand dollars worth of ugly.

equally brilliant thinking on the part of the architect slapping those cedar shingled balconies on the hardiplank siding. they just pop! don't they? i'd rank that, at best, post-modern crapsmanship. love the placement of that garage door though, so homey.

i would not be surprised to find similar thoughtfulness to have gone into the quality of construction there.

truly wonderful examples of craftsman or arts & crafts style can be found cheap throughout the areas i had earlier discussed in my photogram: tampa heights & ybor city.

one of the most famous is, of course, the gamble house. my best friend surprised me with a tour a few years ago as a side trip on our harley ride up to mount wilson observatory in pasadena.

as to zero lot line houses, yours looks to be zero lot on just the one side if that (can't see the property line on other side of fence in your pic.) one side most certainly not zero lot line as it appears to be the driveway for that oddly placed garage. there is a lot of zero lot line construction in south florida, particularly in newly developed areas. basically, it allows to minimalize investment of infrastructure, while deluding buyers into thinking that they have their own single family house complete with everything but setbacks and fire safety.

edit: was curious about your area so i had a cyberlook around.

here's something, ok, maybe a bit of dated modern but what i like is that it doesn't pretend to be something it is not.

found here

you have some great houses up there to choose from. check out the current front page on web site

and hate to break it to you but looks like you just missed the seattle craftsman event of the season
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Old 10-06-2008, 10:34 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by lazygood4nothinbum View Post
here's something, ok, maybe a bit of dated modern but what i like is that it doesn't pretend to be something it is not.

found here pageNEW011003
Nice try Lazy,but about 5-1/2 years too late. The listing for this 'beauty' is from January 2003. Located in the Green Lake area of Seattle (north of downtown about 5 miles), and priced in the low 200's.

Five months ago, this would have been priced in the mid-600's -- based on location alone.

Today? Who knows? Maybe $500k, again based on the location, not the construction. This is an area of single family homes, apartments, and condominiums interspersed with one-story commercial buildings (restaurants, dry cleaners, grocers, etc.). Good transporation into the city, lots of things within walking distance, and oh yeah, Green Lake. A city park favored for walking jogging, and swimming.

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Old 10-06-2008, 11:54 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Gotadimple View Post
Nice try Lazy,but about 5-1/2 years too late.
as i indicated, i am not from that area. my comment was not directed to price but on style and integrity to show that when architects design in the vernacular & with honesty that, with a little paint over the years, their work is never too late, but timeless, as opposed to the hodgepodge of crap passed off as design which is nothing more than a veneer of poorly conceived marketing.

i did look at other homes in the area on and i see that horizontal plank and cedar shingle seems in vogue there. i found one with stone, plank & shingle. it looked a little like vomit.

bit my real sense of how poorly is that design is not just the materials which are tolerable. it's smelling the car exhaust fumes trapped under that overhang & rushing into the foyer. is that up to code even? what's with that heavy duty drip strip hanging there? what really irks me is the very center of the front (facing us) portion. could that be more confused? what's happening at that intersection? a butted-out section of wall with an asphalt singled miniature section of roof covering it; some sort of crown molding treatment holding up the cedar shingle balcony, all set against the vertical boards; the jut-out of the balcony, of the butted out section. add to that the door on top? yikes. the only thing missing there is a round porthole.

the only redemption there is the exhaust vent which draws the eye away from the center of the building. perhaps if i reviewed it again on a day when i was in a better mood...
ps, back to good architecture:

turns out 2008 is the centennial celebration of the gamble house.

"off with their heads"~~dr. joseph-ignace guillotin

"life should begin with age and its privileges and accumulations, and end with youth and its capacity to splendidly enjoy such advantages."~~mark twain - letter to edward kimmitt 1901
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