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Growth forum produces housing definitions

Want to know what you live in?

Auckland’s Regional Growth Forum has produced some housing definitions in an attempt to overcome confusion, but you have to wonder at high-density starting at 8 floors up.

A paper on terminology was presented to Auckland Regional Council’s growth forum committee last Wednesday by policy analyst Brian Waddell & North Shore City Council’s regional growth planner, Giles Hughes.

The definitions start with the farmhouse, at no more than 1 house to 4ha, but Mr Waddell said the most important measure was gross neighbourhood density.

Franklin councillor Jill Morris said real estate agents In the rural sector had a confusing array of terms: “Rural lifestyle, country living, rural-residential — all denote the same thing. You need another classification in there.”

In discussion on the chart presented with the paper, showing housing choices, councillors were concerned that transport modes presented alongside a rising density indicator (regular bus at a gross 15 dwellings/ha, regular rail at 25, rapid transit at 50, and 50% of all trips non-auto at 100 dwellings/ha) would be perceived as meaning those transport modes wouldn’t work below those levels.

That was how regional councillor Catherine Harland, who chairs the ARC’s regional passenger transport committee, took the chart. But ARC policy director Craig Shearer said it was an attempt to tie the region’s growth strategy and transport system together, while Mr Hughes said the references weren’t meant to be cut-off points but a guide.

The paper itself referred to redevelopment being sufficient to support investment in a better heavy rail service, and the Environment Ministry’s Auckland manager, Kathleen Ryan, said “there will be higher subsidies for public transport if higher densities are not achieved.”

The definitions

Farm house, gross density 1 dwelling/4ha & above

Rural lifestyle housing, typically below 4 dwellings/ha (and above the farm house level)

Conventional suburban house, single dwelling/allotment, site usually 450-1080m²/unit, gross neighbourhood density 8-12 dwellings/ha

Small-lot suburban house, site 300-450m²/unit, 12-18 dwellings/ha

Townhouse, usual site 200-350m²/unit, 16-24 dwellings/ha, own street access, own garden or courtyard

Home unit, 2-5 units/site, usual site 200-350m²/unit, 16-24 dwellings/haMedium density

Terraced house, attached dwellings sharing side walls, usual site 150-300m²/unit, 25-40 dwellings/ha

Lowrise apartment, apartments in a single building no higher than 3 storeys (which in Australia is a 3-floor walkup, above which a lift is required; no such requirement here), usual site 50-300m²/unit, 30-50 dwellings/haHigh-density

Midrise apartment, site usually below 150m²/unit, building 3-7 storeys, usually unit-titled with body corporate, 45-80 dwellings/ha

Highrise apartment, usual site below 100m²/unit, building above 7 storeys, 80+ dwellings/ha

Mixed-use development, mixture of residential & business uses, density ranges don’t change.The missing

Words like duplex, the Australian term denoting suburban attached dwellings, and the American condominium are missing.

Long absent from the real estate vocabulary because of its downmarket perception is the old word for many of these dwellings: flat. I figure it will make its return when the values of many of today’s apartments hit more realistic long-term levels than their grand starting prices.

Units that can’t hold their value will become flats, and the grander term apartment will be reserved for grander premises. A likely benchmark will be a $/m² level.

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