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Is there a market for homes under 1500sqft?

by Erik B last modified Sep 04, 2006 04:57 PM
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Is there a market for homes under 1500sqft?

Posted by Erik B at August 30. 2006

First I will start off saying that I know we are in TX, where bigger is better. But I was wondering if there is a market for smaller homes 1500 sq ft or less? We all know Kessler Woods and urban reserve, but those homes seem to be pretty big and pricey. The reason I am asking is that I have found several lots that are in a pretty rough area of uptown dallas, but back up to some really nice properties. Would there be a market to produce small modern homes priced in the 200-300's including land? I really like the coutHOUSE design by mark meyer on this site. Am I the only one that would like an efficient courtyard home? And would people be interested in moving into a transitional area if the design and price were right? I guess I'm just starting to test out the water and see if anyone else would be interested in going into this area with me and make an affordable modern community. Any thoughts would be great.....thanks!


Re: Is there a market for homes under 1500sqft?

Posted by Agent 99 at August 30. 2006

I definitely think there is a market for affordable modern homes. I mean it's great that all those modern developments such as Kessler Woods, Urban Reserve, Case Study Homes are being produce, but my main complaint about them were/are their prices. It's sort of ironic that some of these developments are inspired or influenced by Eichlers and homes designed for the average middle class family, but the prices tend to skew above and beyond affordablity. Don't get me wrong, if someone can afford to buy these homes then more power to them, but not everyone has that luxury.

If there was a modern development priced around 200-300 thousand, I don't think you would have any trouble attracting buyers. For example, Ed Baum built these great townhomes,with courtyards, on Throckmorton Street in Oaklawn. The neighborhood is certainly sketchy, but it's turning around. He saved cost by using all off the shelf products such as cabinets, sinks, fixtures, etc for the townhomes. All of them sold for around $275,000 and he's buidling more on the lot next to it.

Re: Is there a market for homes under 1500sqft?

Posted by Ami Kio at August 30. 2006

IMO, there is. When we were house shopping, our ideal home would have been a zero-lot modern home with a courtyard. I'd prefer something in the $150k-200k range, but I've learned that I'm cheaper-than-your-average-Jane like that. :p

I agree w/ agent99 -- it's frustrating that the only way to get really affordable modern design is to do it yourself (which is so very not me -- I know my limitations).

BTW, love your courtHouse design!

Re: Is there a market for homes under 1500sqft?

Posted by Phil B. Aylward, Jr at August 30. 2006

You probably didn't realize it, but the developer for Urban Reserve (Urban Edge) is the same developer for the townhomes on Throckmorton. Different approaches for different markets, I suppose.

Re: Is there a market for homes under 1500sqft?

Posted by Jeffrey Rous at August 30. 2006

There is something else to note about the Baum houses. They bought two lots and then had them rezoned for duplexes. This cut the land cost per unit in 1/2. I am going to guess that each lot was $200k, but that means they only spent $100k per unit for the land. They also saved a lot of money by doing four identical units at one time. This probably saved them 15% in itself.

If you look at the Oak Lawn area development, the successful model seems to be townhouses that put even more identical units (3-8) on each lot (it also allows the developer to bid up the price of the land). I am not sure how successful a one-off spec home would be unless you found a piece of property that was small enough that only a single unit could fit. This would keep the bigger developers from out-bidding you.

Re: Is there a market for homes under 1500sqft?

Posted by David Benners at August 31. 2006

I just finished reading a great book about courtyard houses - a building type that interests me a great deal. I'd like to throw these items out for discussion: The courtyard house historically has maximized the available lot (walls to street with courtyard in middle) but with local zoning regulations (crazy setbacks), there is little to no room left for a central courtyard - at least for denser/in-town development. I support eliminating - if not seriously reducing - the setbacks, especailly for inner city development. IMO, the beauty of the open, green courtyard is the contrast with the more solid building that surrounds the couryard. So...When we are talking about courtyard houses here, are we talking here about wanting to do traditional layouts (albeit in a contemporary style)which might have to challenge the building department (OMG - no front yard!), or simply Americanized versions of the traditional courtyard house plan?

no front yard! OMG!

Posted by paul schuster at August 31. 2006

I can tell you of a places in america front yards are not the norm.

places such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, Manhattan, urban Chicago, Washington DC and even small towns all over the NE have homes with lot line.

and a lot of those homes even touch the neighbors house or are only sperated by an inch or so so it's not really a common wall.

we called them rowhouses. I recall when I lived in baltimore a friend of my mom's came to visit. she lived in rural texas and was so shocked to see that people actually lived like that in america.

none of this is made up. it's all true!

Re: Is there a market for homes under 1500sqft?

Posted by Gregory La Vardera at August 31. 2006

You could consider row houses a form of courtyard house, but they tend to be more vertical and don't typically have much open space behind them. I think of courtyard houses being more as described above, where rooms are arranged around open space at the center of the lot. You will find this pattern in mexico, and south america. These houses put a wall right at the street with very pleasant open space at the center, ranging from a paved court to green space. These are typically urban patterns but there are interesting precedents for more suburban patters where houses are placed very near the lot line and serve as part of a perimeter wall where garages and guest house also make up part of the perimeter wall. There was a Duany project in florida, dressed in regional vernacular, but which had this wonderful housing pattern. Savannah is very similar to this although more urban.

Re: Is there a market for homes under 1500sqft?

Posted by Mark Beuger at August 31. 2006

Seems to me the courtyard house has its roots in the Roman villa with fluvium to collect rain. You can still see this type of house, even in multi-story version, all over the Mediterranean. I have seen more recent editions from the 1950's where the court yard might not be fully enclosed, or the outside walls not entirely solid. Overall though, they appear to be more internally focused.
What would make houses like this more affordable though in terms of cost per square footage? Does the courtyard surface count? There does appear to be more vertical/outside surface, and I was once told this would increase contruction cost, possibly heating and cooling costs.

Re: Is there a market for homes under 1500sqft?

Posted by Jeffrey Rous at September 02. 2006

For a look at a soon to be, modern courtyard house, take a look at my latest blog entry:

row house vs crt house

Posted by paul schuster at September 04. 2006

sorry if I wasn't clear. I'm not saying a row house is a variety of courthouse. just noting that a no front yard design is not that uncommon in america. and in an area of traditional homes w/ normal setback etc. I can't say that I believe a home up to street and no yard would be a positive thing.

now I did live in a 3 story row house that did have a three story open area and a wall of windows... and we did have a back yard...

I'm all for the courthouse design. mark's courtHOUSE was what really caught my eye and opened the discussion that eventually led to us hiring him.


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