Do you want to build a home but don’t want to live on the outskirts of Kansas City with a long commute? The Kansas City area is seeing a growing number of teardown/rebuild projects, also known as “infill homes,” popping up in established communities closer to the city center.
A home is considered an “infill” when a builder, investor or individual buys an existing home and demolishes and replaces it with a new one. Although many people think infill homes are typically constructed on vacant or underused lots interspersed among established urban or close to urban core neighborhoods, the process is especially common in established suburbs where people wish to have larger homes.
John Moffitt of Moffitt Built said infilling is a nationwide trend that may just come down to basic economics. “Home sites in general are becoming scarce and very expensive,” said Moffitt. “So, in some neighborhoods, the cost to demolish an existing home and replace it with a new home may be competitive to building a new home elsewhere.”
Besides cost, there are other contributing factors. “Emotionally, most established neighborhoods have a better sense and feel of community, as well as bigger established trees than consumers can find in a brand-new subdivision,” Moffitt explained. “Additionally, walkability, bike ability, [and] drivability are usually much better in older established neighborhoods, [and] perhaps the consumer can find a convenient grocery store, coffee shop, drugstore, hardware store, etc. nearby on an infill site, whereas a typical new home subdivision may not have these amenities nearby.”
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Prairie Village is a great example of an established neighborhood where infill homes are very popular.
“Prairie Village has that allure of 50 to 60-year-old homes, which people find to have value and really desire to live in and around,” said Austin Roeser, president of Roeser Homes. “But, the original houses in the area were built on cinder block, so when we get heavy rains the basements are flooded. If we are doing a teardown, we are actually helping by raising the ground, putting in good drainage, and using building materials that will last much longer. The new home will look like a 2017 version of what a 1949-style house looked like.”
However, the new home is frequently much larger than the previous one and/or it may be built in a completely different architectural style because in the 1940s home size expectations were different and today’s buyers want bigger homes, Roeser noted.
“Granted the new homes are bigger, but we’re not building mansions next to small houses,” he said. “I, as well as many other builders, have been rather diligent in keeping with the city building code requirements that dictate the elevation of the houses.”
Ben Tarwater, president of James Engle Custom Homes, agrees. “We have to adhere to a very strict city approval process to build the home. But before we can do that, we submit the plans to a Home Association that scrutinizes the plans heavily to make sure that what we are building fits in and not only complements, but possibly improves the overall feel and integrity of the community. In short, there are a lot of people looking out for [the existing neighborhood’s] best interests.”
Benefits to an infill home include meeting modern building codes, incorporating the latest building materials, products and processes, and increased energy efficiency, all contributing to a lower ecological footprint.
“The demand is high for high-quality new homes in well-established parts of town,” Tarwater said, “and the response has been overwhelmingly positive, giving customers the ability to stay in the areas where they currently live, want to live, or allows them to be closer to their work.”
Not all builders are willing and able to take on an infill project, however, so check out the 2017 Spring Parade of Homes guide book for those who specialize in these types of construction projects.
2017 Spring Parade of Homes
- When: April 22 through May 7 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.
- Where: 381 homes throughout the metro. Free Parade Guides listing addresses and information for every home on the Parade are available at the HBA office at 600 E. 103rd St., near Interstate 435 and Holmes Road, and at all Parade homes. Drop off a non-perishable food item to donate to Harvesters when you pick up your guide at the HBA!
- Home prices range from $165,000 to $1.6 million.
- More Information: Event information and a digital Parade of Homes Guide can be found at KCParadeofHomes.com using an online Home Search tool for locating homes by builder, price, location, school district or amenities, plus a Mobile Search and Maps tool for searching from your smart phone or tablet.