Comment of the Day: Your Houston Townhouse in 2050

COMMENT OF THE DAY: YOUR HOUSTON TOWNHOUSE IN 2050 “. . . Imagine your typical 100 x 100 ft lot, shared driveway down the middle, with 3 fee-simple townhouse units on each side. Now, imagine them 40 years from now, when the post-tensiooned slabs have failed, roofs are worn out, window/roof leaks have caused rot, etc. It is hard to imagine the scenario in which one of the middle units could be replaced with something new. It is going to be very difficult. So somewhere down the road, it may be necessary for a new entity to come in and buy all six units and replat them for the land to find some other productive use. And that doesn’t sound all that easy, does it? This doesn’t seem to be a problem that afflicts every townhouse project, but the ones with the internal shared drives, party walls and continuous slabs sure seem vulnerable. I see the potential for future slums.” [Mies, commenting on Up and Down in Hyde Park]

21 Comment

  • This isn’t any different that condo developments.

    And know, maintenance fees don’t prevent this scenario from happening in condos.

  • this is easy for me to visualize. …just by looking at T+10 years with a skeptical eye. the common wall problem is a new wrinkle. thanks!

  • Such is life in Houston… same thing could be said for the endless sea of shoddy suburban sprawl houses that we have here too. The building codes are far too lax here to be thinking about the future. We should be constructing homes and businesses that will withstand wear, tear and Hurricane force winds. The technology is out there, but in Houston we’re just too CHEAP to take advantage of it.

  • My condo board might think I am a pain in the butt however I make sure we keep up on maintenance and put my sweat equity into the place. I cringe to think of what the place will look like when I move out!

  • hmmm…aren’t the townhomes off of Bering and Augusta constructed with continuous slabs and common walls/roofs as well?

    Those seem to be holding up pretty well (with regular maintenance) and they’ve got to be close to 40 years old now.

  • Terry,

    I was starting to think about that too, but I didn’t know the age of those townhomes.

    There a lot of townhomes in Houston that fall under this category. Some are crappy now and some aren’t. It all goes to the owners, not necessarily the quality of the build.

  • I see the point. Condos are different in that they are constructed in grouped buildings (or a highrise) and while some HOA’s may be better than others, generally the whole property is a dump or it isn’t. Of course, the new townhomes all look fresh and uniform now but wait until that one tacky soul decides to paint his Tuscan number a neon Aqua and puts a metal roof on while his neighbors still have umber walls and composition roofs.
    A friend of mine in a 6 unit development has 3 neighbors that won’t ante up to replace the dead landscaping or replace the rotting beams and their minuscule HOA dues do not really address replacement costs for common driveways, landscaping, etc….

  • It is the homebuilder’s equivalent of the Detroit automakers “planned obsolescense.” We saw how well that worked for Detroit.
    But don’t consider that a prediction. Young home buyers often don’t care about anything but the trifecta – granite, stainless and crown molding.

  • Our condo community has a healthy reserve of money for replacement projects (roof, driveways, paint, etc….)and we sock away 17% of our monthly dues into savings for all of those things from pool furniture to light fixtures to new drain lines to general upkeep. If we had 36 fee simple owners, I could not imagine what a pain it would be to
    deal with them in 20 years when everything looks shabby and is in need of replacement.

  • I always wondered, about the 4 red brick patio homes, built on the South Side of the 700blk of Colquitt. There must be 12″ to 18″ between them, how would a person paint, plus wouldn’t mildew be a problem.

  • Our 8 patio home (no common walls) with a shared driveway works pretty well. The big difference between some groupings and others is whether there is an HOA at all.

    Townhome HOA’s are usually setup where one property owner is enough to be a quorum. This allow that homeowner to use the HOA to slap liens on properties that go off course. This can be good and bad depending on the homeowner who is in charge of the HOA and how active others are in monitoring the HOA.

    Also, if an HOA is in place, it means there are a host of rules dealing with changing of the exterior of the home, to maintaining plants, making sure you pick up your trash can. In our group of 8, one home is still owned by the builder and is rented out because they couldn’t sell it. This home had some minor damage to gutters the plants on its pathway are dead. In the notice regarding their HOA dues, we also tacked on penalty fees that will be assessed if the items in question aren’t fixed. This couldn’t happen to groupings without HOA setups.

    In the end, it comes down to whether their are few residents in the grouping that care.

  • Look at the positive side… in 40 years I’ll be able to afford an Inner Loop condo!

  • Remember Park Memorial!

  • Park Memorial is probably just as intiguing as Wilshire Village in that there was such an unprecedented fast track to condemn the ENTIRE property (as opposed to the one building that was deemed structurally unsound)while it was for sale. So here a year and half later it sits with busted out windows, trash piled high in the parking garages, tall weeds, four or five lawsuits filed, four unscrupulous owners who ruined the sale for the other 90+ owners and now it sits rotting while the City turns it back and the owners still have to pay taxes…….

  • Park Memorial is probably just as intiguing as Wilshire Village in that there was such an unprecedented fast track to condemn the ENTIRE property (as opposed to the one building that was deemed structurally unsound)while it was for sale.

    And probably just as curiously tied to that mayor. The one running for governor.

  • I live in a townhome that is pack of a 3-pack. We don’t have an HOA (yet) but they are deed restricted. The restriction keep owners from painting different colors, changing the structure, addresses landscaping rules, and general rules for the property. Problem is I’d have to sue in small claims court to do anything about someone breaking the rules. We still have 1 unit that is owned by the builder. As soon as it sells I plan to try to get an HOA together.

  • EmilyM,

    As much I have issues with HOA’s being like little kingdoms in the suburbs, I would take my HOA over our group of 8 over your deed restriction setup.

    I’ve noticed a lot of townhome grouping setups that don’t have security gates at the street are usually not under an HOA setup.

  • In 40 years land values will be too expensive for single-family structures. Developers will swoop in and buy whole blocks for multi-unit buildings. Ashby Highrises as far as the eye can see!!!!

  • @ Miss Cleo,
    One of my original concerns about future redevelopment is the potential difficulty of acquiring each of the 1,400 – 1,800 sf postage stamp sized lots that make up the typical six-pack, each with its own separate owner. All it takes is one hold-out to prevent a property from being redeveloped. Not saying it is impossible by any stretch – only that this particular type of development might prove somewhat resistant to change.

  • In 40 years the structures will have been long bulldozed…twice over. It’s Houston where nothing stands past 20 years anyway.

  • A couple of years late to the thread, but it turned up in my search of what I call the U-shaped townhouses of Houston. I have not seen this neighborhood design anywhere else and it is appalling to me – both as a house-hunter in the inner-loop – and out of pity for the adjacent property owners, who now have some giant 3 story stucco box inches away from their homes. In order to give some space for the enclave residents to turn their cars around (but only by backing into their neighbor’s driveway, the builders abut the actual building on the property line, so these townhome owners have neither a front nor a backyard, crowd their neighbors, and have nowhere for guests to park – or even yourself if you don’t feel like pulling into the garage for a quick stop between errands, lest you block your neighbor’s ability to access his/her own driveway. It’s one thing for developers to try to squeeze 6 houses into 1 lot, rather than 2-4 townhouses in a traditional row layout, or, God forbid, replacing the teardown with only a single house, but who buys these things? Downtown feels less cramped than the Heights!