Sky’s the limit for no basements
Buyers drawn to slab-on-grade construction that bypasses the need for basements
Local builders are using a new multi-family housing design that is capturing attention due to its sassy specs, elegant layouts, cost savings and increased health benefits.
It’s called the slab-on- grade three-storey townhome.
Technically speaking, slab on grade is engineering lingo for no basement. Homes are instead built on a foundation of reinforced concrete slabs.
The technique bypasses the expense of excavating a base- ment and building concrete walls, reducing time and labour costs.
The concept also allows a rejigging of the typical townhome design.
These three-storey townhomes join ample square footage with a tandem garage on the main floor, open and chic entertaining spaces on the second floor and private bedrooms on the third level.
Buyer Erin Ferguson recognized the potential in the design immediately.
The 30-year-old was one of the first buyers of a slab-ongrade, three-storey townhome in Avi Urban’s The Block project on 17th Avenue.
A quintessential uptown girl, her Twitter feed reads: “Realtor by day, social convener by night.”
She spends most of her time downtown, checking out restaurants, meeting friends for drinks, working out and, of course, selling real estate.
“I live and breathe downtown,” she says, adding she was attracted to The Block’s location and innovative design by Calgary architect Jeremy Sturgess — not to mention the fact the project is zoned live-work.
As a busy realtor who works from home, Ferguson required a larger space where she could bring clients. Location was tantamount — the home had to be within walking distance of restaurants, she says, and “the vibe.”
The no-maintenance factor was also a factor. “Who does yard work downtown? We don’t have time for that — we are too busy lunching,” she says with a laugh.
When she initially toured The Block’s show suite in 2011, she was intrigued. The project consists of a four-storey boutique building offering a collection of condo apartments and townhomes, all of which are oriented toward a central inner courtyard.
“The main floor tandem garage was perfect,” she says, adding she is drywalling off half of the garage to create an office space. “I really loved the whole flow. It’s great because clients can come in through the courtyard and right into my office.”
Ferguson chose Townhome A, one of two townhome designs offered in the project. The model features a floor plan totalling more than 1,600 square feet over three levels, including the main-floor tandem garage.
There is an open-concept public living space on the second floor and a large patio that faces inward to a secluded courtyard accessed by all of the building’s owners.
The third storey features a master bedroom and a secondary bedroom.
“It’s such a cool project,” Ferguson says. “There is just nothing like it downtown.”
She is to take possession of the unit early this spring. “I’m pumped. I’m already packing,” she says.
The concept of a townhome design without a basement is hardly novel, at least outside Western Canada.
“We have a very unique love for basements in just this geographic area,” says Ryan Armstrong, general manager of Lifestyle Homes and a proponent of cutting-edge, greener and healthier building techniques. “Most of the developed world doesn’t factor a basement into the building process.”
And for good reason — it is much more cost effective to build up rather than into the earth, and the health benefits are fairly substantial.
“Basement air quality is three to four times more polluted than air in the other areas of a home,” Armstrong says, adding that basements have a stronger propensity to mould and mildew, plus they are energy inefficient.
“It actually costs less to put a third-storey on your home than to build a basement, and it costs less money to heat that space,” he says.
The on-slab, three-storey townhome design evolved in Calgary because of the city’s The Heritage townhome by Slokker Canada West in Ravenswood. density requirements, says process. Pollen says that with Chris Pollen, director of sales each subsequent project, the and marketing for Avi Urban, reception is becoming stronthe builder behind The Block. ger and stronger.
“The concept really came “It’s really all about a shift in from cities that have grown thinking,” he says. and wanted to maximize land Avi Urban is not the only use,” he says. builder utilizing this innova
“If you go to Vancouver, tive concept. Several builders you would be hard-pressed to are finding that it is the design find a side-by-side townhome of the future. anymore. It really allows for a “It’s a very efficient design cost savings, which brings the and, with the ever-increasing affordability issue into cost of land, it is pretty play.” much the only feasible
Avi Urban was one way to develop a townof the first builders to house these days,” says introduce the concept Peter Paauw, president in Calgary in its Prosof Slokker Canada pect Hill project in West. Panorama Hills, which The company has launched in 2009. three slab-on-grade
Pollen says when the townhome projects project first launched, on the go: Taralake in there was trepidation about its Calgary, Ravenswood in Airreception. drie and Jumping Pound in
“A lot of people didn’t think Cochrane. that it would fly — a home In Calgary’s northeast comwithout a basement — but munity of Redstone, Streetside we went one step further and Development Corp. is taking added a tandem garage instead the design one step further of a side-by-side design,” he with its Kintalla project, cresays. ating four-bedroom, 1,200
Despite predictions, the square-foot townhomes by reception was positive. “Buyreformatting the layout and users were very excited by the ing the second car park in the fact that they could get so tandem garage. much house for their dollar,” “The third storey is defihe says. nitely the way to go. It’s a re
Since then, Avi Urban has ally cool way to open up … new gone on to create five more ideas,” Armstrong says. slab-on-grade three-storey townhome projects, each time refining the design and the
PROJECT: The Block is a fourstorey project offering a collection of condominiums and townhomes, all of which are oriented toward a central inner courtyard. DEVELOPER: Avi Urban LOCATION: The show suite is at 200 1022 17th Ave. S.W. in the heart of the uptown 17th area. PRICES: Threestorey townhomes with main floor tandem garages start in the $590,000s. Condo fees range from $385 to $403 per month. HOURS: People can view by appointment by calling Anita Bustos at 403-536-7238. INFORMATION: Visit the website at liveattheblock.com
Visit our website for more photos. Erin Ferguson. AGE: 30 years old BACKGROUND: Ferguson is the quintessential uptown girl. She is a busy realtor who lives and breathes the downtown lifestyle. She owns two condominiums in Mission, living in one and renting out the other. Because she works from home, she was looking for a larger space where she could bring clients, and location was just as important, with proximity to top restaurants a must. The no-maintenance factor was also a positive.
Erin Ferguson was among the first buyers of a slab-on-grade, three-storey townhome in The Block condo development by Avi Urban on 17th Avenue.
An artist’s rendering of The Block by Avi Urban, which is a boutique, four-storey project featuring tall, slab-on-grade units built without a basement.
Tall ceilings and large windows are part of this two-bedroom residence within The Block.
Streetside Development Corp.’s Kintalla project in Redstone.