Problems of townhouses: we deal with the constant disadvantages and possible problems
From this material you will learn:
- The concept of a townhouse
- Advantages of townhouses
- 5 disadvantages of townhouses
- Possible problems of townhouses
- Criteria for choosing a townhouse
Not every developer or realtor will honestly talk about the problems of townhouses that lie in wait for future owners. Usually this type of housing seems to be almost ideal, which combines all the advantages of an apartment and a private house. However, reality can become discouraging.
This does not mean at all that townhouses are bad housing, but before buying it is necessary to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. In our article, we will tell you what are the disadvantages of townhouses, what problems can arise and what you need to pay attention to when choosing housing of this type.
The concept of a townhouse — what is a townhouse?
Speaking of a townhouse, we mean suburban real estate for private. Their difference from ordinary apartments is that each of them has its own plot of land. You can arrange it to your liking: plant flower beds, build a barbecue patio or put up a sports complex. The disadvantage of such a site will be the inability to install a fence. So, if relations with neighbors do not work out, then it will no longer be possible to fence off.
Unlike high-rise buildings, townhouses are designed for two to four families. Therefore, in such houses the atmosphere is quiet and cozy, but at the same time, it is possible to communicate with neighbors and organize joint events. Such real estate will also become a profitable purchase due to the fact that utility bills here will be significantly lower than in apartments. After all, the houses do not have an elevator and a garbage chute.
Continuing to compare apartments and townhouses, the first one wins in terms of price, and the second one in terms of area. Its cost, for example, is comparable to a good apartment within the TTC of Moscow. Only the area of such an apartment will be about 70 square meters. meters, but the townhouse has up to 120 square meters. meters. But if you choose between a cottage and a townhouse, the latter is much more attractive.
Basically, townhouses are two-three-story houses, divided into several sections, in the classic version, but there are also two families — duplexes. Since they were created as something between an apartment and a country house, two-story townhouses are the most popular. On the ground floor, most often there is a living room and a kitchen, and on the second floor there are several bedrooms. But if you wish, you can change the layout and make the design to your taste. The most popular now townhouses up to 120 square meters. m. The category of townhouses directly depends on its area — the larger the area, the more elite it is considered.
One of the attractive aspects of such a residence is its own adjacent territory, where recreation areas and parking are located. You can arrange it according to your own taste: plant a flower or break a garden, install a playground or a sports complex, put a pool or organize a barbecue area.
The concept of a townhouse is not enshrined in law, rather it is a publicity stunt. From a legal point of view, they are called blockhouses. According to the urban planning code, a residential building in a block-built residential development (townhouse) is a single-family home that has one or more common walls with neighboring residential buildings (apartments), it must be no higher than three floors (an attic floor is allowed) and is located on a separate land plot, and the exit should be on the territory of common use.
Advantages of townhouses
If initially townhouses were conceived as urban residences, now they are moving into the suburban real estate segment. Such housing is perfect for those who are tired of the bustle of the city and constant movement, who want to live in solitude in harmony and unity with nature, but cannot yet afford a country house. Townhouse «golden mean» between an apartment in a high-rise building and a country house.
The main advantage of such real estate is its market price. Compared to cottages, prices for townhouses are much lower, due to the fact that the cost of maintaining a house is shared among all property owners. And due to the distance from the city center, such a house will also win in price over apartments in high-rise buildings.
Just such a location can be called another plus townhouse. Indeed, remoteness from city noise, industries and industrial enterprises make such houses a good purchase for many families. And the presence of its own plot, fresh air and good environmental conditions make living in such a house more comfortable and calm.
Due to the fact that townhouses are mainly built for the owners, you can choose a layout that will suit you the most and become comfortable for life, as well as decide what the adjacent territory will be. You can build a swimming pool, dig underground parking or make a barbecue area. It will be easier for you to solve everyday issues, because when you have chosen the best development option with your neighbors in advance, they will not arise. This is another point on which such real estate outperforms apartments.
5 disadvantages of townhouses
- Legal side
At the moment, the concept of a townhouse is not legally spelled out in any way, so in the future it will be harder to resolve emerging issues in the legal field.
There are many factors contributing to this legal conflict.
The main one is that a townhouse is considered an apartment building. Accordingly, the adjacent territory is common, as in any other apartment building. That is, own site is a convention, unsupported by anything from the point of view of the law. And your neighbor, for example, may not like the fence that you have built, and he will legally demand that it be demolished. Unlikely, but true. This could be a potential problem for a townhouse. And why do we have such problems?
Of course, you should not forget that you may come across unscrupulous developers who want to get the maximum profit at the lowest cost. And the new house, divided into sections, will be built on a plot of individual residential construction (IZHS), which is prohibited by law. That is, the land was allocated for individual construction, for example, a country house or a cottage, and an apartment building was built. This can cause a lot of questions from state supervisory authorities, and problems for residents of a townhouse. And unfortunately, even going to court will not help to solve it because of the legal aspect of the concept of a townhouse.
Neighbors are everywhere, both in an apartment building and in a townhouse. Unfortunately, the audibility here is the same as in an ordinary apartment. When your neighbors live their normal lives: listening to loud music, doing repairs or watching TV, you will be directly involved in all this while at home. It’s good if you manage to negotiate peacefully, and if not, then this can develop into a full-fledged war of neighbors. But an additional problem of a townhouse is the fact that the adjacent territories will fit snugly against each other, and you, in any case, will see your neighbors.
Neighbors can smoke or barbecue there, and all the smoke will go into your open windows. And you can’t do anything about it. The reverse situation can also happen when the neighbors are not happy, for example, your children scream loudly.
- Common area cleaning
Very often problems can arise, for example, with snow removal or autumn foliage cleaning. The fact is that each section has its own entrance, and the approach to them is common. Neighbors have to share cleaning duties among themselves, which causes certain problems. Either you are busy, or your neighbor has an emergency at work, and no one can clean the road.
The same question arises with car parking. Despite the fact that everyone has their own parking space, the road is shared. And it needs to be cleaned and repaired, so there are additional expenses that will again fall on your shoulders.
- Possible communication problems
Often, due to the fact that this is not legally fixed, communications become a problem for a townhouse. There were cases when tenants could not get hot water supply to their house for several years. Not to mention interruptions in electricity, internet and hot water. Life in such conditions cannot be called comfortable and calm.
Do not forget about the sewerage, if it is centralized, then this is excellent. And, if septic tanks are installed in the house, similar to those that are installed in country houses, then another problem of townhouses appears — their devastation and cleaning. And this is again spending, and rather big and regular.
- Other minor issues
Non-standard problems may also occur. For example, you decide to go on vacation for a month in winter and turn off the heating. Because of this, troubles may arise in the neighboring section, such as cold, new repairs, pipes freezing, etc. All this can lead to damage to property and complicate relations with neighbors.
An unpleasant surprise may be the additional costs of maintaining the village. As with the removal of snow or fall foliage, which we discussed earlier. You will have to pay for street lighting, maintenance of security, cleaning of the common area, landscaping and much more.
Possible problems of townhouses
- Inconvenient layout.
Due to the fact that the width of such houses is small, townhouses are made three-story in order to increase the area. Adding a residential attic and basement. Which makes it difficult to move up flights of stairs, even if you are athletic. Another problem with such a layout can be a fall from the stairs, especially if you have children who rush headlong.
If you live in an apartment or a one-story house, then there is no problem going for a forgotten thing, but when you have three floors, at some point it starts to tire: running from the first floor to the third and vice versa. Another problem with a townhouse is that you have to spend money on intercoms so that the family can hear you when you need something. Or learn to scream loudly.
- small narrow area
Due to the small size of the plot (1-3 acres), on such a plot it will not always be possible to realize all your landscaping ideas. And due to the fact that your site is close to the neighbor’s, you will also have to focus on its taste. Likewise, you may not like what the neighbor posted on his site at all. And you will have an unresolvable conflict, which can drag on for a very long time. In the end, this can make the site look like a deep box with little sunlight and high humidity.
- Repair will cost more than in an apartment.
If you have a small renovation budget, keep in mind that renovating a townhouse can cost a lot more than an apartment. Sometimes it can equal the cost of the townhouse itself and even surpass it. When purchasing such a property, remember that you will have to carry out heating yourself (from $15 thousand and more), equip stairs (from $8 thousand), install wiring (from $5 thousand and more), make plumbing (from $10 thousand and more) and ennoble the site, and install a fence around it.
But this applies only to the case when the area of the townhouse is less than 150 square meters. meters and it is not two-story. Otherwise, buying a townhouse along with renovation can cost even less than the same luxury apartments in the city.
- Limited parking space.
Parking is also a problem for the townhouse. You will not be able here, as in a cottage, to build a garage or equip an awning on the site. You will only have space for two cars — one in the garage and one in front of it. Since the site is often located behind the house and adjacent to the neighbor’s site, you will not be able to build another garage. So, if you plan to increase the number of cars in the family, this problem may become unsolvable.
Criteria for choosing a townhouse
The first thing you should pay attention to when buying is the documents for the land. The site must be classified as «land of settlements» and have the type of permitted use «housing construction», «low-rise construction», «blocked residential buildings». If the master plan for construction has already been approved, it must be stated in it that this land is intended for the construction of block houses. If this is not indicated in the documents, in the future it is fraught with problems with state supervisory authorities.
Be sure to find out the status of the land on which the house is being built. There are several varieties of them:
- land for MZHS (low-rise housing construction). On such lands, the construction of residential buildings is allowed, but their height is not higher than three floors.
- IZHS (individual residential construction). Land with this purpose is suitable for the construction of cottages. But townhouses can also be built on them, provided that the site is surrounded by a fence, and each section is framed as a separate residential building.
Even taking into account the listed problems of a townhouse, living in it can be made comfortable. If you have the opportunity to purchase a house together with relatives or friends, then choose a duplex. Then you will not face the problem of unpleasant neighborhood. If finances allow you to choose between a townhouse and a small cottage, then it is better to purchase the second one. This choice will make your life easier.