These are houses, usually in an urban environment, that are built side by side, sharing a wall, normally called a party wall, and they are usually one, two or three levels. However, there are also four to five levels townhouses in wealthy urban neighborhoods like the inner city of Washington DC, in areas like Adams Morgan, Woodley Park, Capital Hill and Georgetown, where the average house value range from $500,000 to $1,000,000. Sometimes the terms Townhouses, Row-houses, Terrace Housing are used interchangeably.
Row-homes first appeared in the UK. The earliest row-houses to come into existence were the Grosvernor Square (1727- ) and the Royal Crescent Bath (1767-1777). These type of houses are popular in Europe, USA, Canada and Australia. They were warmly welcomed and accepted in the UK for various reasons. Among them are the appearance or aesthetic effect: neat row arrangement that display rhythm, arising from the repetition, cascading or alternating views that they presented in one holistic unity that is a great display of harmony, resulting into majestic sculptures on the European landscape.
Characteristics of Row-Housing
The other characteristics of row-housing include, a long narrow plot with lengths of 100 ft to 200 ft and widths of 15 ft to 35 ft and square area of 2,500 sft to 3,000 sft (or typical 1/16th acre to 1/10th acre). This is one of the reasons why these types of houses may soon be popular in Kenya.
Row-Housing or Townhouses in Kenya
The consumerism culture in Kenya has not left the Real Estate Sector behind. The rush for land acquisition either for land development, building construction and land speculation among other reasons cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, this has resulted into division of land into unusable lots; Lots less than 2500 sft which are not long enough, lots like 50ft x 50ft, 40ft x 60ft and so on. These plots, though popular and in the market, are actually unfit to enter into the public market because they do not provide enough front and back setbacks that meet the minimum building code criteria of 25 ft and 15 ft respectively. These types of lots give architects and designers a headache at the drawing table. With required front and back setback summed at about 40ft and assuming an average building length of about 30ft to 40ft, the recommend plot depth should be in the neighborhood of 70ft to 80ft.
If the area of the same lots has to be minimized or kept constant, at say 2500 sft, then the only answer is to make subdivisions with narrows widths and longer depths. That is, plots of 30ft x 80ft or 25ft x 100ft at minimum. But also, the shortfall is that these lots cannot stand alone, because of side set back requirement of 10ft total on both sides. Side setbacks are very relaxed depending on location to location, ranging from 3ft to 5ft and some areas even allow beacon to beacon construction on the sides.
Through these arising circumstances and challenges, then we can confidently say conclusively, that the answer to the land division problem is to make plots narrower but longer, and build houses that touch each other or share a wall. That is the introduction of row-housing or town-housing in Kenya. Hopefully, this is the new trend that developers and real estate investors will take and we shall in the future see more Townhouses, Row-Houses, and Terrace Housing in Kenya. They are truly the houses of tomorrow.