Rowhome construction has a long and rich history in eastern Canada, the USA (like the famous Brownstones in New York City), offering its owner’s strata-free home ownership. A collective ownership structure common in townhouse developments is discouraging to many owners who like to control their own home maintenance. Strata-ownership can also be a psychological barrier to those people who like to feel they truly “own” their properties from the ground to rooftop, rather than buying abstract communal rights or airspace.
Until recently, fee simple attached homes were not permitted in B.C. due to the lack of party wall legislation (the wall you share with your next-door neighbour). This has now been approved and this new style of home ownership is bound to take off in the Nanaimo area!
Strata systems allow or even force owners to pre-pay for repairs and landscaping for the entire complex as well as many other decisions. Everything from pet ownership to gardening choices often have to be approved by the strata council. In a strata unit you are not allowed (usually) to make any changes that will affect the appearance of the building. This includes painting the exterior, gardening or changing window coverings. With Fee Simple ownership offered by Rowhomes each property is considered a stand-alone home and not part of a larger building. You can do pretty much what you like to your portion of the building. Fee Simple means NO strata fees, NO strata council meetings and NO restrictions on ownership. It's just that simple!
What is the difference between a townhouse and a Rowhome?
In Nanaimo, there are many townhouse developments which are multi-unit, having their own outside entry and look very much like a Rowhome. In a traditional strata-built townhouse, anything to do with the common building portion will always be covered by the strata. So if a water main bursts outside of a particular unit it is not the responsibility of the owner, it is the responsibility of the strata. When units are built like this, to cut costs, builders will group water, sewer and other utilities together as they are not specific to any one unit or owner, and thus all the costs are shared.
The construction of a Rowhome is much different, though it may be hard to tell by looking at it from the outside. Each home of a Rowhome development has its own utility lines (sewer, water, electrical and gas) entering each home. That means if there are 3 homes, there will be 3 separate sewer and water connections. So if a water main bursts it will only be one home (the one with the burst water main) that is affected. Individual utility lines increase cost of construction and that is usually why Rowhomes are 5-10% more expensive than a traditional townhouse of equal size and design (but remember no strata fees to pay).
Is the roof considered common property?
Rowhomes have separate roofs for each unit, so the owner is only responsible for the repair and maintenance of their own roof. It is unlikely you will have to worry about the roof for some time as there is a 25 year warranty!
What is a Party Wall?
I worry about the noise from my neighbours.A Party Wall is the wall you share with your next-door neighbour and our Northfield homes are built with excellent Party Walls. Instead of the 2x4 wood frame wall typically used in townhouses, we always use concrete in our Party Walls. The concrete Party Walls provide superior sound and fire proofing, as well as better insulation (check it out at www.reddiform.com). This is just another example of our commitment to combine superior value and affordable home pricing.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What does "strata" ownership" and "fee simple" ownership mean?
The big difference between strata and non-strata (fee simple or freehold) attached housing is what the owner can and cannot do with their property. Ownership in a typical townhouse or apartment is dictated by the strata-ownership system.