For several decades of booming residential construction in Guelph, town homes seemed to be viewed as more of a requirement than as a possible functional and stylish housing option. Well that is certainly changing …
Borrowing from our European roots, town homes built many decades ago were not only economically and land use smart, they were filled with class – they were a smaller version of detached homes in size only, not in beauty. Somewhere along the path of progress, this concept got horribly lost. Attached homes became boxes lacking in design, all in the name of function. Two storey, straight up and down, 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom boxes. This trend seemed to continue from the 1970’s through until the early 2000’s. I can say with a little bit of optimism and a whole lot of evidence, that those days appear firmly behind us.
I think the builder that really tipped the scales in this city was Terraview Homes. Not necessarily because they were the first ones to try something different, but because they decided to offer a superior product when the market was telling them they didn’t have to. In the mid 2000’s it seemed any product was consumable in Guelph. New housing was in demand and I remember the flurry that would happen around the release of a new phase in some subdivisions. Consciously or not, many builders seemed to get sterile with their design , knowing that almost whatever they brought to market would get swallowed up by hungry buyers. Terraview Homes saw things differently and I think this city, particularly our South end, is much better off as a result.
New designs with unique materials and finishes were welcomed by buyers and suddenly town homes started to become hip. Other builders seemed to take notice and suddenly first time buyers, down-sizers, investors and single parents alike all had new options to be excited about. As we head out of 2014 and into 2015, it’s amazing to see how far the city’s builders have pushed the boundaries of town home design and construction over the past decade.
Builders like Granite Homes, Cityview Homes, Fusion Homes, and Podium Developments to name a few are all doing some pretty unique things with smaller, attached floor plans. Granite Homes pushed the envelope on the East side of Guelph with limestone and stucco exteriors, flexible second level spaces and open concept main floors. They continue to offer some unique options, and are being pushed in the marketplace by both Gemini and Cityview Homes. It is very typical to find finishes like granite countertops, glass showers, hand-scraped hardwood flooring, under-mount sinks, stone exteriors, upstairs laundry and all wrapped up in a beautiful open concept design.
Unique designs like the the rooftop patios of Podium Developments’ OneEighty project and the heavy stone exteriors of Charleston Homes’ Stewart Mill towns are great examples of builders offering more because they know consumers will appreciate it and will be willing to pay for it. We have come full circle in this town back to the old principles that attached housing isn’t about cheaper finishing, it’s about living in a right-sized foot print for many. Some of the most beautiful facades we have in this city, are in fact, on 19th century heritage town homes. We are back to that point where many of the most architecturally unique and innovative designs we are now seeing are on attached housing.
Town homes have gone from cheap entry point priced housing to a luxurious, environmentally and economically friendly option here in Guelph. The timing is right with a projected 80% of new building permits for 2015 to be dedicated to attached housing.
Thank you Terraview Homes for doing something different when it wasn’t required, we are all reaping the benefits of your forward thinking approach.
Photo Credit: Phil Maurion – VisualAdvantage.ca