Row homes are a classic housing style that is enjoying a revival because of the advantages it brings to home owners. Owners have full control over the building and the ground on which it is built. Since there is no common area to maintain, there is no home owner association, and no HOA fees.
In high density areas, a new style of row home is cropping up – homes that are contemporary in style, designed with outdoor patios, decks, roof gardens, and built with sustainable materials. This means minimal maintenance and greater affordability. During construction, some row home contractors offer retrofitted design options.
Several inches of space, covered by flashing and hidden from view, usually separate row homes from each other. This style of construction makes it unnecessary to have a homeowners association. Legally, these homes are considered separate entities due to the 2 or 3-inch separation between homes. Outwardly, they look like attached town houses. The properties are divided from each other by an imaginary lot line, making it possible for each owner to have full control over the home and the land.
This centuries old style, row homes, can be found throughout the world, in New York, Paris, London, New York, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia. The style and type of material used in constructing row houses vary. Many homes are primarily red brick in construction, with stone and marble accent. Some communities have homes that are built of solid granite. In architecture and city planning, a row home or terrace house is a style of housing in use since the late 17th century, where a row of identical or mirror-image houses share side walls. The first and last of these homes is often called an end terrace or end unit, and is often larger than the homes in the middle.
In the United States, Thomas Carstairs, a Philadelphia builder and architect designed the first row houses or terrace housing in 1799 for the Philadelphia developer William Sansom. Carstairs Row in Philadelphia was part of the first speculative housing developments in America. Many of Philadelphia’s row houses date back to colonial times. Prior to this time houses had been built individually, not in rows. In Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Francisco, and Washington DC, homes built side by side with the dividing walls being common on each are simply called row houses or row homes, and are quite common. In New York City and various urban centers around the country, a particular type of row home made of a brownish-red sandstone is called a brownstone. Despite the narrow lots, many brownstones are relatively large. Some newer row homes in these areas are often referred to as “attached houses”. In much of the Southern United States, they are referred to as row homes. In the Midwest and Great Plains they are referred to as “townhomes.” In the United States the term, “row home”, usually describes a two story, housing unit that shares a wall with one or more neighboring units.