Monster Homes

There is a trend that has been around for a few years that is currently in the news and it involves the gentrification of neighbourhoods that were built in the 50’s and 60’s. They have large lots, mature trees, updated services and most often amenities that are convenient for families.

I started my career, 46 years ago doing exactly that! Updating, renovating and building homes that revitalized communities, increasing property values and attracting a whole new demographic.

In today’s market, it is not always cost effective to renovate. In some cases, building a new home on an existing lot just makes good sense for the marketplace.

What is creating a ruckus are the changes to not only the building codes but zoning by-laws in various cities. These revisions are restricting the size, scope and proportion of homes in an attempt to control Monster Homes. The very description is daunting and sends a very negative image of what these neighbourhoods will look like in the future.

For some reason, planners feel that when changing building heights, set backs, and coverage along with the overall building permit process it will be a deterrent to the demolition and building of homes that fit this description.

What is interesting, is that many years ago the rules and regulations were introduced to encouraged commerce, creating communities that welcomed redevelopment.

I fear, that the new rules will in fact do just the opposite. Instead of revising the existing rules and regulations, why don’t we create incentives for homeowners to work with industry professionals to design homes that appeal not only to our new lifestyle choices but encourage what I call good architectural manners in our communities.

A punitive system discourages collaboration and creates tension.

Gentrification is a good thing! It means that we have healthy communities that are attracting people interested in raising families or retiring in areas of a city that support and encourage their unique lifestyle.

If we continue to make things difficult and antagonistic what will be accomplished?

The building industry is the backbone of our economy. It creates jobs, supports entrepreneurship and develops strong communities.

Changing the current rules and regulations will not guarantee better communities but rather discourage the development and revitalization of neighbourhoods that most often need an architectural facelift.

Let’s try to incentify the industry to create new and beautiful communities that encourage growth and prosperity. This will meet the needs of families who live in neighbourhoods that will be enjoyed by many future generations.

How about we strive for architectural good manners and try to avoid terms like Monster Homes. 

John Williams is the principle architectural designer for Williams Residential Design. A boutique firm with 46 years experience.

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