October 5, 2011

When is a “town home” not a town home?

danBy Dan Dolan
Dan Dolan Homes

When is a “town home” not a town home, and what do you call a “town home” that is a standalone home?
And what’s a villa?

Virtually every weekend during my open houses someone asks me about the difference between a town home, villa, condo, zero lot line home – and often about home types I’ve never heard of. The answers for a number of these are often the same—“I’m not quite sure but…” For instance, I’m not totally sure I know the difference between a villa and a town home. Is one in the country and the other in the city? Have you ever heard the movie lothario invite the leading lady to his “town home” overlooking the Mediterranean –or the ocean at Malibu? Those are always villas, and admittedly the number of homes in our area that would meet that definition are few and fewer.

Some definitions are clearer. We build many “zero lot line town homes.” Those are “regular” homes except that you share a common wall with your adjoining neighbor and your lot line goes through the middle of the common wall – thus, “a zero lot line.” In our case, however, that common wall is a 12-inch insulated concrete wall with six inches of concrete in the middle with two inches of insulation on each side for added safety and comfort. Wallboard is then attached to each side of the wall. At Stone Gate East, each homeowner owns the inside and outside of his home including the yard, the siding, the driveway, the roof, etc. Typically there are no additional fees, assessments or escrows for common area maintenance and future siding or window replacements. With a zero lot line home, if you want a tree in the yard you can have one. A garden? Absolutely. A pet? Yes. Would you like roses around the home’s foundation? You can plant them (and take care of them).

By contrast, in a condo, the homeowner owns and controls only the inside of his/her home and the outside is owned and controlled as common area by the association. Some associations also collect a monthly fee for eventual roof, roadway, window and siding replacement and for liability insurance. Since you don’t own your own yard, plantings may be done only with approval of the association and they may or may not agree to your wishes. They may cite uniformity or maintenance issues for rejection. Moreover, once landscape features are installed, the association “owns” them, and they may or may not be retained on an ongoing basis.

Now, what do you call the freestanding home we are building among the “zero lot line townhomes” at Stone Gate East in East Davenport? Should you drive by there, (off Eastern Ave. just below 53rd St.), you’ll find several freestanding homes under construction. In fact, we’ve made provisions for some 12 freestanding homes to be available there. Essentially, each freestanding home is “half” of a side-by-side zero lot line town home and on the inside they are identical to their side-by-side siblings. But for seniors who may prefer the “detached” homes, we have them available at Stone Gate East. But is this a villa? A “house”? A single family dwelling? A ranch? Call them what you will but we offer them in two sizes—1,440 or 1,520 sf on the main floor plus a finished basement option that adds another 1,000 sf. of living space including a third bedroom, third bath and large family room. All our homes offer two bedrooms and two baths on the main floor, two-car garage all with no-step access from the outdoors. The monthly association fee covers lawn maintenance and snow removal.

Want geothermal heating and cooling? All Dan Dolan town homes feature traditional high efficiency heating and cooling systems from some of the best manufacturers in the industry. Slowly, however, we are introducing geothermal systems as an option. Yes, they are a little more expensive to install, and regrettably, we have to pass on that added cost to the homeowner. But currently a federal rebate cuts the approximate net cost of geothermal to about $6,000. But the monthly utility bill savings will continue forever paying for the system in but a few years.

Now for the “cherry on the top.” All Dan Dolan town homes at Stone Gate East qualify for the Davenport Now tax rebate. We estimate that on our $239,900 home, the up-front Davenport Now tax rebate would be around $5,000 to $6,000. That can be used for the new piano you’ve always wanted or to help offset some of the “extras” you decide to incorporate into your new home.

Whether you call it a villa, a town home or simply a terrific home, we would encourage anyone interested in an outstanding value to drive out any Saturday or Sunday to view the homes in this latest Dan Dolan addition. We’re off of Eastern Ave., just south of 53rd St. And, if you want to hear about our newest town home development in Bettendorf, see us at Stone Gate East for full details.

Filed Under: Community, Finance

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