March 7, 2013
What’s an easy way to add value to a development of new homes? Build homes that create great places, where cars share the road with pedestrians and bicyclists, and where streets become gathering spaces.
Creating a great place is easier that you might think. It starts with two basic design moves. First, design homes that play well with others. Start by pushing the garage back behind the face of the house. This sends a clear message: here, the car is secondary to people. Add a full-depth porch to allow residents to engage with their neighbors. And keep rooflines uncluttered to ensure that the design stays simple. All of these decisions work in concert with each other to create a streetscape where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Second, build sidewalks and plant street trees. Not only will both of these provide a protected place for pedestrians to feel safe walking, they also translate to real value. A recent study at the U.S. Forest Service in Portland, Ore., found that street trees can add close to $9,000 to the price of a home. What’s more, homes within 100 feet of a home with street trees sell for more than homes in areas with no trees. Trees grow fast, so if you have a limited budget, even the smallest caliper tree offers dividends.
Even with a rebounding housing market, you have to make your work stand. Whether you’re building one house or 1,000, being street smart will help you get ahead. After all, streets complement the triple bottom line: People (live healthier by walking more), planet (walkable communities mean less gas consumption), and profit (creating a place people want to spend time adds value).