Comment of the Day Runner-Up: How To Address the Townhome Gap

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: HOW TO ADDRESS THE TOWNHOME GAP “I’ve always wondered how it will be possible to maintain (or one day have to replace) the fiber cement siding in between all those 3-story homes separated by what looks like mere shoulder width. Super thin scaffolding?” [Progg, commenting on Comment of the Day: The Real Difference Between a Townhome and a Patio Home] Photo of 3108 Baer St., Fifth Ward: HAR

20 Comment

  • Planned obsolescence. They’re designed to be disposable. Just tear them all down in 25 years and build new ones.

  • The biggest problem in my mind is waste of heat. If the walls touched, since both spaces on either side are climate controlled, there would be a lot less thermal loss/gain to the outside atmosphere, and thus the heating and cooling bills would be lower for both residences. That side of the building is about 25% of the total exposed surface of the outside of the house. Instead, hot August air (or cold January air) blows through the space and moves heat across the exposed wall.

  • Really skinny Mexicans.

  • I don’t really understand how they build some of these houses. Do they have to put the outside on from the inside? Doesn’t a bunch of stuff accumulate between them, like it does behind the couch?

  • Well somehow they built them like that. Someone had to get between them lol

  • My house is one of these. The gap is actually bigger than it appears from a distance though. The builders had no issues putting up the siding during construction and both houses were put up at the same time. Actually there were some issues with the siding that were taken care of under warranty, the guys came out with scaffolding, pulled down the bad siding and put new stuff right up. When it needs to be replaced I’ll most likely be long dead. Having the air gap between houses really does make a difference in noise. We’ve never heard one peep from our neighbors and I have an extremely loud stereo setup that I like to crank all the way up when having a drunken party at 3:00am… could not even come close to doing this in my old connected townhouse.

  • Lol! Silly rabbit, this is Houston, they’ll be torn down and replaced with something else before that kind of maintenance is needed.

  • Oh ya’ll are talkin about this new Millennial Shotgun Shacks (MSS) that are popping up all over my hood, Shady Acres. It’s easy they just put the scaffolding back up between the houses and the workers get after it.

    More important question is “Why do developers and the CoH allow these abominations.?”

    Answer: Money to be made by Developer and taxes by the CoH. Because each house has its own lot (via the EZ subdivision rules), each MSS is a single family house on a lot size less than 15,000 sqft. Thus per CoH development regulations, it does not require Letter of Storm Water Availability nor any Storm Water Detention plan so long as they keep impermeable cover under 75%. If it goes over they just install larger than normal drainage culverts under the shared driveway or put the MSS on pier and beam foundation to make up the “detention volume” needed. Net result is near 100% coverage over a lot that had a small modest house and big yard and old oak trees on it previously.

    But try putting anything bigger than a 10×20 storage shed up on a 15,000+ sqft lot and look out. Storm Water plan, full development plan, Storm Water detention plan, etc… is needed. Even if over 99% of the lot will remain undeveloped green space. Go figure that one out….

    Keep the Shady in Shady Acres ya’ll.

  • That’s a classic example of Houston’s regulations in their own way being worse than zoning, and having a negative aesthetic impact in the process.

  • It is actually hard to find trades that will do this stuff, intown. Can you imagine the difference in painting a 2 story homes in the burbs that is 20 feet (?) from the closest home. Versus a 4 story town house, that is a few feet from its neighbor, in a vertical mobile home park.

  • @jgriff – So you cant hear your polite quiet neighbor but I’m sure they can hear your 3am parties just fine.

  • I didn’t mean to set off a string of townhome hate mail. I’m just curious from the technical point of view because I’ve not seen scaffolding that would be able to fit in some of narrowest of distances between these homes but I guess it exists. Having previously owned one of these homes myself it was not easy to find someone willing to service the roof and the ones that would asked for a pretty penny just to go up there and look.
    p.s. the idea that the siding was never meant to last longer than the lifespan of the house itself is absurd.

  • @Progg

    You are right, the ‘traditional” 4 ft x 6ft scaffold will not fit in many of those spaces. They use jack-up scaffolding. Basically two “I” beams upright and a 2-3 ft scaffold board in-between. Top of the I-beam is attached to roof / under soffit. To go up or down they use a jacking mechanism on either end of the board. Very simple and fits into the narrowest of spaces.

    My beef is that the developers come in, pay inflated prices for the “old” houses and then the City allows them to subdivide a lot that held a single house into a lot that holds 4-6 houses. No storm water considerations, green space considerations, parking considerations, impact on neighborhood, etc… They sell those as single family housing (not high density housing that they are) and laugh all the way to the bank, consequences to their neighbors be dammed.

    But I try to put a small building / bathroom (i.e Toughshed with a toilet inside) on a lot that is 15k+ feet intended to be a private park / open space and it is thousands of dollars in storm water plans, permits, professional engineering plans, etc… Yes I could simply subdivide the lot and play that game, but then my taxes would increase because I am “developing” the lot. Makes no sense at all.

    So yep I just shake my head and laugh at the MSS and wonder how long it will be until I have the neighbors complaining about “that nasty old shack with that old dude who works on cars and makes too much ‘industrial like” noise”.

    Keeping the Shady in Shady Acres

  • Maybe the laborer can Mission Impossible their way from the top of the home while another worker uses a pulley system to bring the materials to their level.

  • Unless they get a consent agreement from the adjoining property owner, the homes but me spaced at a minimum of three feet apart for fire protection purposes.

  • @InTheDoghouse pardon the 99% of us who don’t weep much that your HUGE 15,000sqft lot (3x that a FULL size lot in most of Houston, and 10x the size of most subdivided lots inside the loop) is so big that you have some extra regulations so you don’t cover your entire lot withour some oversight .
    Boo Hoo 4 Yoo
    Throwing some shade from Shady Acres

  • @ the Gman,

    Actually a little over five years ago one could still buy a full quarter section lot (72.5 x 150 = 10950 sqft) in Shady Acres pretty easily. Getting two quarter Sections next to each other was hard, but not impossible. Make that 10 years ago and you could do that for less than the $400k being spent on the MSS these days. Even factoring in the time value of money, you are still way ahead. Of course you have to live in an “old” house and mow the lawn, etc…

    Don’t believe me just look at the HCAD maps for Shady Acres today compared to what was there five or ten years ago.

    Yep neighborhoods change, that’s a given in Houston, but when another Allison hits ( and it will) and Turkey Creek rises and floods the streets again, …well it will only be worse because of the loss of permeable ground space (I.e. Lawns and trees and gardens, etc..).

    Not all change is good and not all development and densification is good. Contrary to CoH and developer mantra for what is supposed to happen inside the Loop.

    So long as everyone who buys a MSS in Shady Acres knows what is in store for them…. ( and I am sure the sales agents disclose / show pictures from the Allison flood)… Get after it.

    Just trying to keep the Shady in Shady Acres ya’ll.

  • How many cans of expanding foam sealant will fill it?

  • Why all the hate for “smart” development and densification? Comments flying in the face of those who know better than we how we should live.

  • The denseification of dwellings inside the loop is literally the only thing Houston gets right in regards to urban planning. I can’t believe the peanut gallery here rallying against it.