Could some of the most in-demand housing markets be cooling off?
The Corona Two Pack
In the hot market for new homes in Southern California, attractive and affordable, detached single-family homes do not linger on the market.
First-time buyers with families are attracted to Carlisle because they can buy three- and four-bedroom homes in the fast growing Inland Empire area for under $200,000. With average prices for single-family homes in the surrounding town of Corona at nearly $246,000, Carlisle is very affordable. At the same time, these buyers can remain within a 30- to 40-minute commute to business centers in Orange County via a toll road that has opened up the Corona area to further development.
|The Windsor (Plan 4), at 2190 square feet, is the largest of the plans that have sold well in the Carlisle at Mountain Gate community in Corona, Calif., above. Its garage-deep plan dovetails with one of two garage-forward plans to form a Two Pack, shown at left.
Buie CommunitiesÆ senior vice president James Saivar credits CarlisleÆs designers, Bassenian/Lagoni Architects of Newport Beach, Calif., for enabling the project to involve detached homes. Buie purchased the original property with a site plan that called for duplexes, says Saivar. Instead, designer Carl Lagoni refined his plans for larger homes in the Bay Area and in Orange County that interlock with alternating garage-front and garage-deep floor plans. The configuration, called a "two pack," was a real bonus from BuieÆs perspective.
|The interior of the Windsor has a feeling of openness despite the modest square footage and is reflective of the way people live these days, says designer Carl Lagoni of Bassenian/Lagoni Architects, Newport Beach, California.
"All things being equal, people prefer to buy detached homes," says Saivar.
Though not entirely new, the two-pack arrangement was innovative in this case because it allowed the homes at Carlisle to be built right up to the neighboring lot line while maintaining a comfortable degree of front-to-back separation from one another on lots that are 40 feet by 90 feet. The four floor plans range in size from 1777 square feet to 2190 square feet. Plan 1, The Bristol, and plan 3, The Kensington, are garage-forward units and can interlock with either of the garage-deep units - plan 2, The Hampton, or the largest home, plan 4, The Windsor.
"We were able to take these duplex lots with plans for houses from 1400 to 1800 square feet and with this two-pack design were able to get it up to 2100 square feet," notes Saivar. "So somebody could buy a 2100 square foot unit for $192,000 while that same unit on a 5000 square foot lotùin fact we are selling one on a competitive projectùsells for $20,000 higher."
|Upstairs, flexible space can be used for a fourth bedroom or as a retreat off the master bedroom suite in plans 3 and 4, respectively.
Beyond being an innovative solution for land useùproviding a density of 7.5 units per acre at Carlisle and a potential density of 10 units per acreùthe two-pack concept is another example of the increasing use of Traditional Neighborhood Design (TND) in new-home communities, says Lagoni. TND refers to a trend toward narrow streets and front-facing living spaces that look and feel like homes and neighborhoods built during the 1920s and 30s.
When viewing the front elevation of each of the four floor plans, it makes perfect sense that the first iteration of the two pack designed by Bassenian/Lagoni, was done on an infill site to fit the needs of an older community.
"We were going into an older community that did not emphasize the garage," says Lagoni. "And so this concept of the interlock of the garage was really devised as a means to provide more architecture to the streetù less impact of the garage to the street."
At Carlisle, even plans design 1 and 3, which have the garage-forward, the architectural emphasis is on the living space, not the garage. They are anti-snout, front-facing garages. Lagoni achieved this effect by spending more on street-facing elevations including small porches and Spanish-style arches and railings. To de-emphasize both the deep and forward garages, he included more architectural detail to the window surrounds and roofline over the garage. Lagoni also pushed the garage doors back into a small recess.
From a foundation and framing point of view, the plans were kept as simple as possible, says Lagoni, so more could be spent on the builderÆs interior specifications: staircase turns, oak cabinets, high-quality kitchen and bath fixtures and Whirlpool appliances.
A guiding principle behind the interior spaces was twofold, says Lagoni, first to create an open feeling and second to provide as much flexible space as possible. "On plan 1, youÆll notice that it is a dual-activity house with a single dining area. The plan 2, which is the first garage-back unit, has all of the piecesùit has a kitchen, a family, and a living and dining which plan 3 does as well. And once again, plan 4 has all the elements but some of the traditional elements are taken out."
Upstairs, flex spaces create options in plans 2, 3, and 4. Loft spaces can be converted to fourth bedrooms, media niches, or teen spaces. Flex space in plan 4 provides an option for a retreat space in the master bedroom suite instead of a nearby second bedroom.
According to Saivar, the target market was first-time buyers with families who work in Orange County and live there as renters. The homes have plenty of living space for young families at a price that is "the lowest for new homes in the city of Corona."
Plans 2 and 4, which are garage-deep units, can be purchased with an attractive driveway gate. With the gate closed, Saivar points out, kids can use the driveway going back to the garage as a play area while parents can still keep an eye on them from adjacent living areas inside the home. "ItÆs also a perfect place for a father-son basketball game," says Saivar.
Since Carlisle opened last May, Buie has sold on average more than six units per month to buyers who fit the first-time, young family profile.
Buie Communities builds the four floor plans for $40.62 per square foot in hard costs (materials and labor). With landscaping, those costs rise only to $42.65.