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  #81  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 5:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Yeah, this is the big vintage home divide. Restore or gut? I love brownstone exteriors. Can't stand the dark, claustrophobic vintage interiors.

Something like this is, to me, the perfect rowhome:
https://thebrooklynhomecompany.com/d...arfield-place/

But traditionalists will hate it.
it's a tough call either way.

i've lived in a variety of both intact and gut-rehabbed vintage chicago flats.

both have their advantages/charms, but as someone who really, really struggles with summertime heat, i've come to love the modern HVAC systems of gut-rehabbed places.

i love the inventor of central A/C almost as much as i love Pizza God.

our current home is a 20 year old gut-rehab of a 100 year old 3-flat, and i love nearly everything about it, except for the fact that the rehabber cheaped-out on the replacement windows. we have 28 (yes, 28!) individual double-hung windows in our unit, and that's just a fucking shit-ton of operable windows for a single housing unit, so we got stuck with cheap vinyl replacements. replacing all 28 double-hungs with a quality window like a Marvin clad product would probably cost around $20K.
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Last edited by Steely Dan; Oct 4, 2019 at 7:18 PM.
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  #82  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 5:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
our current home is a 20 year old gut-rehab of a 100 year old 3-flat, and i love just everything about it, except for the fact that the rehabber cheaped-out on the replacement windows. we have 28 (yes, 28!) individual double-hung windows in our unit, and that's just a fucking shit-ton of operable windows for a single housing unit, so we got stuck with cheap vinyl replacements. replacing all 28 double-hungs with a quality window like a Marvin clad product would probably cost around $20K.
I'd personally swap out the windows on the front facade for something nicer. I don't think I'd care much on the rear/back.

The previous owner got a set of more expensive windows on the first floor which actually match the dark wood grain on the inside. It really bothers me that they're white on the outside though. It bothers me even more they put in a Trex front/back deck, which includes tan plastic railing and spindles (though the original posts are still in). At some point I want to replace all that, because I'd love to do a bolder color combination on my wood trim (like cobalt blue and purple to match our stained glass) but the tan trex and white windows really don't go with that.

Last edited by eschaton; Oct 4, 2019 at 6:32 PM.
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  #83  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 5:54 PM
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I'd personally swap out the windows on the front facade for something nicer. I don't think I'd care much on the rear/back.
not a bad idea, but 20 of our 28 windows are on the front facade, so still a shit-ton of windows.

it's a sun porch issue, and because we have a "duplex down" unit (2 floors), we have 2 sun porches, so lots of windows.

on the plus side, LOTS of natural light for our two front rooms.
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  #84  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 6:21 PM
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
My experience has been that rowhouses only have a few basic layouts - discounting really small types like a trinity:

Two up, two down: The smallest regular layout. Two rooms on the first floor, two on the second. Usually the smallest of these have a steep staircase which runs left-to-right, party wall to party wall. Every room has natural light from one external-facing wall.

Two deep with third story: The same basic layout as above, but with a second flight of stairs leading to an attic or a third floor, which may be furnished.

Two deep with rear ell: Same basic layout, but on the first, and usually the second story there's a rear extension. This is usually where the kitchen, and (due to convenience when it comes to the sewage stacks) the second-floor bathroom are located. The negative of this style is it means the "internal room" on the first and second floor typically only have a single window due to the shape of the rear ell. Also, in its more narrow incarnations this means the second floor is set up "railroad apartment" style, meaning one bedroom has essentially no privacy.

Grand rowhouses: The big difference here is a grand rowhouse tends to be significantly wider, which allows for both a grand stairwell which goes front-to-back on the house, along with allowing for a hallway on at least the first and second floor. Often the third floor is large enough for multiple rooms. Occasionally you see a rear ell large enough for two sets of rooms on the first/second floors, but you invariably end up with the "railroad apartment" issue, because the ell will be too narrow for a true hallway in all but the widest rowhouses.
There are a lot of 3 deeps where essentially the middle room has no windows. On the first floor, it tends to be the dining room. Second Floor a bathroom and combination of closests for the bedrooms in the front and back.

There is also variety in terms of how many floors up the back of the house goes in comparison to the front. These are typically houses that have been added onto at some point.

For example, there are a lot of trinities that have bump outs on the back of the house on the first floor that were added to bring the kitchens up from the basement, but nothing above it. So it's a 2-1-1.

I lived in an extended trinity that had been extended two floors but not on the third. So the first floor was living room (f) kitchen (r). Second floor bathroom (f) master bedroom (r) (in bump out), 3rd floor bedroom 2 (f) with sliders to walk out deck on the roof of the 2nd floor bedroom.

There are also airlites which are newer mid century versions of the rowhouse that tend to be wider and mimic the layout of a four square, sort of. Wide living room with straight stair in front of first floor. Back of first floor is a dining room next to a kitchen. Upstairs a master bedroom on one side of the house that's the entire width of the house with 2 smaller bedrooms generally in the back of the house.

And then there are tons of rowhomes in places like Mt Airy Germantown and Chestnut Hill that are essentially mansions and don't fit any of these prescribed layouts.
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  #85  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 6:49 PM
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In any case, we don't need all the space we act as we do. I figure a typical small Philly rowhome would be more than sufficient for a family of 4. Hell, if me and the gf bought one now(childless) we would feel like we live in a damn mansion.

That's what's always appealed to me about Philly-style rowhouses (or a Toronto equivalent) - I want my own modestly sized freehold property, without the maintenance of a detached house with a big yard.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
being from a non-rowhouse city, i really appreciate the descriptions of the layouts. they sound quite a bit different from chicago's long and skinny flats.

I'm in Chicago right now and I was actually surprised at the number of (true) rowhouses along the lakefront neighbourhoods. Though I know they get pretty rare farther out.
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  #86  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 6:57 PM
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I'm in Chicago right now and I was actually surprised at the number of (true) rowhouses along the lakefront neighbourhoods. Though I know they get pretty rare farther out.
where were you?

only 3.4% of chicago's housing units are "1 unit attached", according to the 2017 ACS, and many (most?) of those are of the more contemporary townhouse style, not classic 19th century rows.

by contrast, 42% of chicago's housing units are in 2-9 unit buildings (2-flats, 3-flats, & 6-flats), the classic chicago urban typology that dominates the city the way that rowhouses dominate philly.
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  #87  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 7:08 PM
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Originally Posted by MonkeyRonin View Post
That's what's always appealed to me about Philly-style rowhouses (or a Toronto equivalent) - I want my own modestly sized freehold property, without the maintenance of a detached house with a big yard.
Wouldn't the only difference with the SFH big yard be additional lawn/landscape care, which you can just pay for? Millions of suburbanites just pay others. With a rowhome you still have the typical SFH homeowners concerns like if the furnace conks out or the roof leaks.
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Originally Posted by MonkeyRonin View Post
I'm in Chicago right now and I was actually surprised at the number of (true) rowhouses along the lakefront neighbourhoods. Though I know they get pretty rare farther out.
Which lakefront Chicago neighborhood has a heavy concentration of rowhouses? You mean like modern townhouses in the South Loop? Stuff like this?

https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8629...7i16384!8i8192
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  #88  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 7:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Wouldn't the only difference with the SFH big yard be additional lawn/landscape care, which you can just pay for? Millions of suburbanites just pay others. With a rowhome you still have the typical SFH homeowners concerns like if the furnace conks out or the roof leaks.
It's better than being in a condo though, where you're basically left at the mercy of the board. My mom has been pissed at her local condo because things are wrong with the common utilities but her neighbors are either too poor or too cheap to get them fixed properly, thus she suffers through things.

In a rowhouse, you control all of that directly (except in rare cases like a common chimney, like I outlined above).
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  #89  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 7:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Which lakefront Chicago neighborhood has a heavy concentration of rowhouses? You mean like modern townhouses in the South Loop? Stuff like this?

https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8629...7i16384!8i8192

I have never been to Chicago, but what about the Gold Coast?

https://goo.gl/maps/z132MrrLLHxMBFrB6
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  #90  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 7:24 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
I have never been to Chicago, but what about the Gold Coast?

https://goo.gl/maps/z132MrrLLHxMBFrB6
those aren't true rows, just zero lot line individual structures directly abutting each other.

they share no common party wall, like a bonafide rowhouse.

though the results can sometimes look similar.



here's an example of a true 19th century rowhouse in chicago:

https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8698...7i13312!8i6656

but they really are pretty damn rare, relatively speaking.
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  #91  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 7:26 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
I have never been to Chicago, but what about the Gold Coast?

https://goo.gl/maps/z132MrrLLHxMBFrB6
Yeah, there are some Gold Coast SFH. But Gold Coast is probably 90%+ multifamily. It's really an apartment neighborhood.

I always loved these Gold Coast homes on Elm. But they're far from typical:

https://www.google.com/maps/@41.9032...7i13312!8i6656
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  #92  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 7:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
those aren't true rows, just zero lot line individual structures directly abutting each other.

they share no common party wall, like a bonafide rowhouse.

though the results can sometimes look similar.
I think most people would consider those to be attached housing, insofar as there is no gap between them. Otherwise you could only consider Philly-style "industrial building" where the entire block was built at once to be rowhouses.
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  #93  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 7:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Which lakefront Chicago neighborhood has a heavy concentration of rowhouses? You mean like modern townhouses in the South Loop? Stuff like this?
Just walked through the East Lakeview/Lincoln Park area and saw a bunch of this kinda stuff:
https://maps.app.goo.gl/9mmtqmQQrhpvNaoz6
https://maps.app.goo.gl/fMxPdyT7vZTjtJqd8

Far the predominant style I know, but there were more than I was expecting.
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  #94  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 7:50 PM
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I honestly hate when you take a historic home and make the floor plan "modern" on the inside.

One of the selling points for my house (detached, built in 1906, basically "grand foursquare" in style) was how historically intact it was. Cherry floors on the first story, unpainted original woodwork everywhere on the first floor (save the kitchen) grand stairwell with bannister, pocket doors, built in sitting benches, stained glass windows, clawfoot tub on the second floor, etc. I wouldn't have bought a house that looked the same from the outside if they gutted it and put in an open floor plan, painted the woodwork white, and replaced everything with shitty drywall.
In many cases it’s necessary.

A house from 1906 really isn’t that old. There are thousands of Georgian rowhouses in London from the mid-19th century or earlier, and when they were built they didn’t have bathrooms. Modern plumbing didn’t exist, so people used chamber pots that were emptied by their staff. The kitchens, if there was one, were dark rooms in the basement with the servant’s quarters next to them. I don’t think most people would be ok with that setup these days.
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  #95  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 8:20 PM
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A house from 1906 really isn’t that old. There are thousands of Georgian rowhouses in London from the mid-19th century or earlier, and when they were built they didn’t have bathrooms. Modern plumbing didn’t exist, so people used chamber pots that were emptied by their staff. The kitchens, if there was one, were dark rooms in the basement with the servant’s quarters next to them. I don’t think most people would be ok with that setup these days.
True enough. In my city the oldest homes left (aside from a few oddballs) are from the 1830s, meaning there is nothing Georgian, and only a handful of Federalist-style buildings. You can always tell the random really old ones on a row though, because they had so much lower floor heights than the late 19th century homes. Here's a good example in a non-gentrified area. Dunno how old the shorter house is, but it was built some time prior to the 1872 maps. It's two stories are almost as short as the first story of the house next door! I presume it must be kinda like living in a hobbit house.

There are relatively few Victorian houses in my city with a lot of internal elements left intact, and those that there are are quite expensive. And of course everyone updates kitchens and baths to some degree. I think it's sacrilege to paint white (or remove entirely) built-ins and ornate woodwork.
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  #96  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 8:33 PM
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There are relatively few victorian houses in my city with a lot of internal elements left intact, and those that there are are quite expensive. And of course everyone updates kitchens and baths to some degree. i think it's sacrilege to paint white (or remove entirely) built-ins and ornate woodwork.




That's inevitable...especially if a house is 'well lived in' with kids. Unless you can do the work yourself, the cost of fixing dings, sanding and refinishing would cost a small fortune. We had our wood paneled living room repainted white/ grey rather than refinish (original color was dated 70's stain) as we were looking at 5-10k to restain. The paint job cost about a grand.
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  #97  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2019, 8:38 PM
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I've pretty consistently lived in rowhomes for the last five or so years.

The "classic" Philly rowhome has a very simple floorplan: two or three floors high, basement, three rooms on each floor. Usually, the setup is like this:

* First floor: Parlor - Dining Room - Kitchen
* Second floor: Master Bed - 3rd Bed - Bathroom - Back Bed
* Third floor: about the same as the 2nd

I currently live in the smallest bedroom of a rowhome. Sure, it's not a lot of space, but I don't need a lot anyway.

Stairs and hallways in rowhomes do tend to be on the narrow side. But that's never been a big deal in any of the rowhomes I've lived in.

I think the most annoying thing is that the dining room is usually quite dark. I really like open-floorplan renos for rowhomes in this regard, because natural light percolates through much better, and so does a breeze.

Rowhomes are easy to keep warm in summer and cool in winter. Mine doesn't even have A/C and I've noticed that the dining room never breaks 80, even on the hottest days of the year.

I think rowhomes are very underrated. They're very utilitarian with their space, and usually trade off internal grandeur for spaciousness where it counts (the parlor, dining room, kitchen) and coziness where it's appropriate (e.g. small bedrooms).

A 2-floor rowhome is definitely enough space for a 4-person family, and a 3-floor rowhome just gives you a whole bunch of extra rooms to play with. I daydream of being able to buy a 3-floor rowhome and building a library in one of the unused bedrooms.
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  #98  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 12:56 AM
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I've lived in 4 rowhomes in South Philly in recent years. Lot size of 14 or 15 by 45 to maybe 65 feet. 2 stories, about 800 to 1400 square feet (not including basements). Pretty typical for the area.

Regarding light, a lot of the deeper rowhomes aren't connected all the way back on both sides so you have side windows on one side for most, if not all, rooms. Basically a light well you'd see in an urban apartment building.

The biggest thing I like about rowhome neighborhoods is that the houses and backyards are very small so all street life gets pushed to the front of the houses, ie the street. Especially on the narrower side streets (not the main numbered streets or cross streets), there is a really block community that is unlike anything you'd find in suburban neighborhoods or denser urban, apartment building neighborhoods. Even dense streetcar suburb neighborhoods in Philly aren't quite the same. Block parties in the summer (Philly is famous for very high number of block party permits issued), beers on the front steps, children playing on the sidewalks, chatting with your neighbors multiple times a week on your way in and out, old ladies staring out their window or door all day. As an example, while I am typing this someone on my block is having an engagement party on their sidewalk with a sound system set up in front of their house.
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  #99  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 1:20 AM
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Of course. I live in a rowhouse. But unless you're loaded, everything in the core here is rowhousing.

My poor neighbourhood:

Home from Galway by R C, on Flickr

Nicer ones:

September 14, 2019 by R C, on Flickr
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  #100  
Old Posted Oct 5, 2019, 1:16 PM
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
There are relatively few Victorian houses in my city with a lot of internal elements left intact, and those that there are are quite expensive. And of course everyone updates kitchens and baths to some degree. I think it's sacrilege to paint white (or remove entirely) built-ins and ornate woodwork.
You would really hate the interiors of many 150+ year old rowhouses in London then:

Guilford Street, London WC1
https://www.rightmove.co.uk/property...-61750257.html

Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill, London, W11
https://www.rightmove.co.uk/property...-83073368.html

Richborne Terrace, Vauxhall, London, SW8
https://www.rightmove.co.uk/property...-60562551.html

Chepstow Crescent, Notting Hill
https://www.rightmove.co.uk/property...-62847819.html


But these places would have all lost their original interiors long ago. And oftentimes one is renovating to replace work done in the 1950s-70s, which like most things from that era was truly awful.
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