gaonmymindSeptember 7, 2012

Seems alot of people hate McMansions on top of each other, but I thought that this was interesting. Almost all of these new homes are modern and are in a neighboring house's side or backyard.

Would these be considered McModerns?

Side yard Loophole

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I don't know why these houses need a buzzword title; it's just a case of poor zoning restrictions.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 4:24PM
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I can't imagine why anyone would want to buy a house like this? And to have to sell the original house, that seems like it would be tough, because who would want the original house with another new house in the yard? Crazy.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 4:50PM
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These people aren't home to enjoy their yard--they are all working all day, and it is rarely nice enough to enjoy a yard here anyhow. This way, there are fewer slugs to contend with. (ha!)

But, mostly this is an issue with not leaving enough green space/permeable space on a lot.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 5:27PM
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The Mc from McMansion indicates mass-production, which those extremely slim infill houses are definitely not, so your new buzzword doesn't make any sense.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 5:31PM
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But isn't Seattle actively trying to prevent suburban sprawl? Or is that Portland. I think in Portland you can't build a commercial facility outside a certain zone if there is available property that suits within the zone, as I understand it.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 6:14PM
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Would these houses be considered examples of "new urbanism"? A way to increase density without allowing skyscrapers, for example?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 6:28PM
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It just doesn't seem fair to the original property owners in the neighborhood that they can change the density without a rezoning. And I am sorry, I am sure I am an architectural rube, but I found most of them unattractive. Number 20 looked like a single wide mobile home except not as nice since mobile homes are usually situated on some land!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 6:57PM
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The entire state of Washington, not just Seattle, is trying to limit urban sprawl by encouraging cities to increase density (in any way they can) and developers are happy to take advantage. Our property taxes in this area are high (though, not as high as what I've seen reported here for Chicago area), and we are a state that is a sales-tax only funded state government (and localities being funded by rising property taxes, and property taxes are used in bonds to fund state things that don't get funded via sales taxes). So, what you see here are tiny old houses with "large" parcels in which the taxes are too high for anyone to pay, let alone a senior without an income despite having the house paid off. To keep from losing their home, they sell off part of the too-large to maintain yard and allow another house to be built. But, rather than it be a house proportional to the neighborhood, nobody wants a house smaller than 2500sq ft, so they are ginormous/tall.

That is how I see it anyway.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 7:24PM
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Those houses are McFugly. ;D

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 9:30PM
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I vote we just call these things "Wedgies". Seems appropriate on so many levels.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 12:06AM
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Oh, what a shame is change!

It sounds like the same whining combination of self-annointed preservationists and saviours of threatened farmland who rose and fell here in Toronto in the 1970s and 1980s--until economic logic and city planning changed.

Toronto once gained international attention in the mid 1970s by enacting a max 45-ft. height limit for all new buildings. Since then, urban intensification and rebuilding has won the day. It leads North American cities in the pace of condo construction, with as many as 239 high-rise projects recently under way.

Urban intensification has permitted homes on even smaller patches than those shown in the Seattle pics. In parts of the city originally built for working class persons before mass transit, lots of 12'-15' were and are common. My first house here was on a 12'x 120 'lot, a five minute walk from a subway that took me to the highrise core in 10 minutes.

Sub-divisions of inter-war and post WWII bungalows are unrecognizable today to anyone who saw them in the '60s or even '70s. Ditto such "planned communities" as Don Mills built in the 1950s. Contrary to the nonsense that developers and builders have foisted these changes on the city, it is the new residents, the consumers of this housing that have called for it. Literally, in forcing pols to change archaic zoning rules. And then buying (and building themselves) these new homes. Indeed, the home behind a home was not uncommon here either. It's derived from the practice on old family farms. To keep extended generations together, the adult children would build additional homes on the property. Before the zoning tyrants took over, the same idea was seen on city lots. Indeed, unacknowldeged by the authorities, such uses are not uncommon in downtown areas. As a lender, I financed the finishing of an existing carriage house into such an accessory dwelling. Because of zoning, it couldn't be severed and was officially a garage. Granny flats or secondary suites are now allowed in some places in Ontario and the US on a temporary basis.

Though I'm a traditionalist, I think the pictures illustrate a wonderful vitality, the result of consumer sovereignty in housing choice.

Here's one example of similar Toronto infill.


After Photos: Reigo & Barrio Architects

If I were there, I'd love to be making use of wasted serviced space, or demolishing those dreadful old bungalows. (I can smell the mould from here.)

Change. Bring it on!

Here is a link that might be useful: Laneway Housing

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 3:50AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

And homes like these create such lovely views for the rooms.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 8:23AM
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So the difference between Toronto and Seattle is quantities of rain and the fact that Seattle is built on fill. (I am not sure about Toronto's elevation changes, but Seattle has a lot of those too (steep hills)).

These combine for saturated ground and sliding hillsides.

Like I said, the biggest issue is actually permeable surface area.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 10:19AM
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I live in Seattle AND I LOVE these new homes. I think many are architecturally quite interesting and the interior spaces are WONDERFUL because the effect of light is maximized in their small foot print homes. Modern architecture allows them to live with light and soothing organic materials. I uderstand that it is not for many but others love them. Otherwise, they would not be so popular.

There are many many old houses that are built on small lots with less than 10 feet between two houses. This is not a new phenomenon.

For many, these homes sure beat the idea of buying a 100 year old houses where nothing has been updated AND tens of thousands of $ renovation is staring in the faces of these young couples with no time or money.

I am a huge proponent of limiting urban sprawl and giving people the option of being able to live in the city by making the cost reasonably affordable which means that you need many many different types of housing: condos, townhomes, mixed use zones, single family homes with larger lots and smaller lots. There are plenty of homes with larger lots in Seattle. You jus thave to be willing to pay million or more or drive farther out. These homes cannot be built unless someone sells the property. So this is not about the city. It is about individual decision to allow density in his/her neighborhood at a certain cost.

I much prefer living in the city with varity of architecture and color, including a purple house in my neighborhood, then live somewhere where color of my house has to be one of 10 approved colors.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 12:44PM
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Provision for handling runoff without creating overpermeation of the soil, especially in steep slope areas is covered by changes in the Seattle Municipal Code.

But without any manmade structures at all on the Puget Sound, landslides would still be the order of the day due to the combination of soils, slopes and climate. See for instance, first reference here.

The architectural/density objection is the major one.

Side windows on city lots mainly look into somebody else's windows. Rather than seeing potbellied Pa waddling around the house in his boxers, I'd take a brick wall any day. In fact, what I've done in that situation is put up a board privacy fence vines and trellises.

I'm waaay too sexy for my window, don't you think?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 1:39PM
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Since the great fire of Seattle, they have built and "anchored" things to the ground, because, as you say they'd still be sliding into the sound. And, many things are likely to probably likely to slide into the sound if we get the earthquake they are predicting for this area sometime; anytime; who knows when...

I don't care so much about their closeness. If you don't want to live close together, don't buy one. And, as long as a fire truck can access what needs to be accessed so be it (there are instances in suburbs of Seattle where King County codes did not address proper fire clearances and firefighters literally could not set up a ladder to get where they needed to because the building was too tall for the proper/safe slope of the ladder... another point, and I think that has been remedied for new construction excepting these few developments that were put in before the realization). I just think, like your picture worthy, that they could have done a better job of blending... (as you say, take out the 800sq ft cottages and replace with a similar build. make these transitional neighborhoods rather than warty ones).

Runoff is still an issue here as evidenced by the Queen Anne floods just a couple years ago. There is more work to be done with flooding and saturation.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 3:56PM
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Front house/Back house was very popular in Chicago in the 19th century since it was designed on the street+alley plan. The old house was picked up and moved to the back of the property and rented out and the new house was built fronting the street. Often, the lot in between was fill with household waste, garbage and other discards just tossed out the windows.

The worst runoff issues here are in one of the suburbs. The urban part of the city was built for zero lot line housing.The ultimate solution is to go back to building twins and attached housing with party walls.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 4:08PM
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In Kirkland, a suburb of Seattle, we have many more "multifamily" dwelling units being built than these subdivided mini lots shown here. The multi-family are connected with party walls, as pal says. That is mainly how Kirkland has addressed the urban density/growth requirements/suggestions by the state.

I personally like them better because they are more coherent, preserve green space and permeable area. And, there is no pretending that it isn't a multifamily neighborhood.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 4:40PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

So the difference between Toronto and Seattle is quantities of rain and the fact that Seattle is built on fill.

Also the fact that one is in the shadow of a tremendous volcano....

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 4:53PM
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And if it's not fire, it's the quake that will get you. The region is overdue on all accounts. When there's a slip in the Cascadia Zone, or the Seattle or Tacoma faults move again, tens of thousands will die. And the latest American Imperator will fly over in a helicopter and declare, "In the Spirit of America, in the spirit of 9/11, we will rebuild."

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 8:46PM
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And, that is exactly what they did post Great-Seattle Fire and why Seattle has an underground... Some interesting stories to go with said underground and the rebuilding of Seattle.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 1:45AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

You reminded me of what a bad day is...whenever I had a bad day, I would remind myself of April 2, 1778 when, on the same day, the isle of Banda had a typhoon, a volcanic eruption and an earthquake. Now THAT's a bad day!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:37PM
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This is an interesting thread. I do like the ones where the new house reflects the style of the older neighborhood.

But I do side with kaismom. "For many, these homes sure beat the idea of buying a 100 year old houses where nothing has been updated AND tens of thousands of $ renovation is staring in the faces of these young couples with no time or money." Before we decided to build in our neighborhood, we looked at some existing homes. By the time we would purchase them and change them: update the kitchen, put in new windows, replace the roof, and live with current awkward layout like accessing the basement from outside and no powder room for guests, inability to make the deck wider, and lack of insulation in the walls, we would be cheaper to build rather than put so many band aids on the older build.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 5:59PM
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