Out With The Old, In With The New


By Ed Roskowinski, CR

The implementation of a temporary moratorium on new residential construction and larger additions in the 13th Ward of Minneapolis has brought attention to the growing challenges we face with urban “infill” housing. With teardowns representing a growing number of projects in the Twin Cities, many agree that we need to explore ways to make sure these new homes and their existing surrounding neighbors can coexist harmoniously.


It’s easy to see why a property owner might want to remove an existing home and replace it with a new structure. Who wouldn’t want to have all the advantages of a newly constructed home coupled with all of the advantages of living in an established neighborhood. Your new home isn’t in a subdivision of an outer-ring suburb miles from downtown. It’s in an established neighborhood with large trees, neighborhood stores and coffee shops, and easy access to downtown for work and play.


There are a number of concerns as the construction process can be disruptive with many urban neighborhoods having multiple new homes going up at one time. When new home contractors are unaccustomed to working in urban neighborhoods, noise, additional traffic, parking, and dust and debris blowing around can be particularly problematic. It’s important that contractors working in these established neighborhoods understand these challenges and have processes in place designed to lessen their impact on the neighborhood.


Another concern neighborhood residence have is whether the new structure will feel at home with its surroundings. It doesn’t need to replicate the adjacent homes, but it should reflect some commonalities and be sensitive to the existing homes around it. Neighborhoods shouldn’t dictate what style or esthetic a person is able to build, but the height and overall size of the home should be managed so we don’t have new three-story McMansions casting shadows over existing single story ranch ramblers.


“Infill” projects are smart, green, and economical and they can be welcomed by the community when working with a contractor who has experience building in established neighborhoods. You can have all the advantages of living close to the city coupled with all the advantages of living in a new home.

Tell us about an urban infill home done right in your neighborhood.

Ed Roskowinski is General Manager and VP of Vujovich Design Build, Inc., a 37-year design build firm specializing in building and remodeling unique Twin City homes for unique homeowners.

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