Town and Urban properties are usually highly connected to their exterior amenities and history, which shape the appeal of their well defined neighborhoods.
Walk scores are very important with urban houses since the convenience of being able to walk to shops, recreation, and dining venues is a major driver of value for buyers of urban real estate.
The housing stock here often dates back to the late 1800’s, well beyond their original life span. Therefore, these structures have often been updated and remodeled at least once in the past. Nothing can be taken for granted as being adequate without a thorough inspection; such as the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. The exterior elements, and roofing and roof structure also need to be examined. There may also be hazardous asbestos, lead based paint and lead in fixtures and plumbing.
Land values in the Denver neighborhoods have risen greatly since most of these homes were originally built. This created a natural market response to increase the value of the dwellings built on the land (see my blog on the 3/4 rule). One can see this in the increase in the quality of their interiors, the expansions of the floor-plans with additions, adding a second floor, or even a scraping of the original house off the land to build an entirely new structure that has a greatly increased square footage.
Quite often limited land size and the necessary setbacks from the lot lines limit how
far one can spread out the floor-plan horizontally; hence the frequent need to add footage vertically. Another strategy of increasing the living area of these homes has been to finish the basements, many of which were just dirt cellars or crawl spaces with insufficient headroom to be living areas – Digging the cellars deeper while reinforcing the walls is a strategy often employed to make them usable areas. One big plus I noticed as a Denver realtor and past appraiser is for homes along busy streets. A basement master bedroom will allow one to have a quite place to sleep since it is submerged. Brick or masonry walls also help in noise reduction; this is where triple-pane windows or added storm windows over the antique windows can help in reducing the interior noise as well as reduce the heating bill. A large covered porch is another option to making a home’s limited size feel much larger and make it more comfortable and functional while allowing a better connection to the outdoors – it’s best when facing private and quite yard areas.
Given the often historic value of homes in these areas is driving their appeal, remodeling and increasing the footage is normally done to preserve those historic elements while incorporating them into a more contemporary urban style; naturally, this is the major drawback of having to scrape a house to start over and erasing its historic elements altogether.
The urban home is much more connected to people, local amenities and businesses than their suburban and rural counterparts. If one can walk to shops, amenities and businesses, they become an extension of the house and part of an urban lifestyle. The suburban and rural counterparts of urban dwellings are much more car dependent; where most or all of those amenities are much more spread out and beyond a walking distance. Suburban and rural homes are more like private alcoves, isolated and private on a human scale – even when in subdivisions. I think it is an expression of a different way of thinking and existence. Each of these ways of living offer advantages and disadvantages that vary from one person to another.