I believe you know I am a supporter of living small. I was just in a neighbourhood a few weeks ago that had undergone a change in the other direction.
I remembered a neighbourhood close to our new house that had been primarily small bungalows that had been constructed in the late forties. The entire area had been built for returning soldiers after World War II, and had been street after street of similarly designed homes of 1000 to 1500 square foot size.
I’m a boomer, and when I was small we lived in a house much like this — maybe you remember homes like this — two bedrooms on top (your Dad probably put another in the basement when you and your siblings outgrew the one bedroom). One bathroom for the whole family. An eat-in kitchen or a tiny dining room.
But when I saw the neighbourhood again recently, I had to look for these old bungalows — they had been replaced by McMansions. I felt a real sense of loss. But I understood why. If you visit the site Crack Shack or Mansion, play the game to see if modest bungalows like the one above are dilapidated shacks or worth the price of a mansion in another city. Who am I kidding — a dilapidated shack in Vancouver IS worth the price of a mansion almost anywhere else. Because it’s all about the price of the property.
I can understand why someone who buys one of these homes would tear it down, and for another $300K or $400K, build a huge home that dominates the lot and leaves no yard to speak of (or play in).
And Vancouver is certainly not the only city to “suffer” from this. Even Down Under, the land crunch is being felt. In this article we learn that Sydney, Australia is seeing their bungalows (or “cottages” disappearing). And the reason is
Bob Schwartz, chief economist of Pitney Bowes Software, which did the analysis, said two- and three-bedroom houses were becoming ”too small” for the Sydney housing market.
”Those types of houses are in decline because they are simply not the best use of space,” he said. ”The small cottage just can’t cut it with high land prices.”
I am hoping that the option of increasing the living space in the home by building laneway homes will slow or stop this trend. As nice as these large houses look, it doesn’t increase the densification of the neighbourhoods, and it completely changes their character.