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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Townhouse design characteristics and residential satisfaction Fitzpatrick, Roderick Dudley Wayne


The purpose of this study is to evaluate townhouse design in terms of user preferences and, in particular, to assess design provisions as they relate to the preferences and requirements of family households. Since the condominium concept was introduced into British Columbia in 1966, the condominium market has responded to changes in the housing market generally. In the Greater Vancouver area, one of these responses has been to design townhouse developments to attract a broad spectrum of potential purchasers, including families both with and without children. The two hypotheses addressed in this study are: 1. The design of townhouse developments has been predicated on the need to market the project, with insufficient attention being given to the design requirements of the occupants. 2. Townhouses are designed to meet the needs of small households without children and, as such, do not satisfy the demand for moderately priced family housing. The research is based on 291 responses to a survey questionnaire. The data were analysed using multiple regression and factor analysis. The multiple regression revealed colinearity among variables, so, factor analysis was utilized to identify the pattern of variation in the data. Five factors emerged, all of which are statistically significant in terms of general satisfaction. 1. Basic Provisions - essential and universal design characteristics. 2. Private Amenities - non-essential, primarily unit features. 3. Public Indoor Amenities - non-essential indoor common facilities. 4. Family Accommodation - unit and project characteristics for children. 5. Storage Provisions - provision, size and location of storage spaces. The factor loadings were utilized to rank design features according to their contribution to the explanation of the variation in general satisfaction. Similarly, univariate statistics were employed to rank these same features in terms of their provision in townhouse projects. A comparison of the rank orderings revealed substantial differences between the design preferences of townhouse residents and the design characteristics of townhouse developments. No clear pattern emerged, however, to suggest that marketing considerations influenced design decisions at the expense of residents' requirements. Although the first hypothesis was rejected, developers should note that in several important respects, they have misjudged the preferences of those they serve. For purposes of the second hypothesis, the procedures were repeated utilizing only those responses from family households. From this analysis, four factors emerged. These factors were the same as four of the factors revealed by the earlier analysis, although only the first two are statistically significant in terms of general satisfaction. 1. Basic Provisions 2. Private Amenities 3. Public Indoor Amenities 4. Storage Provisions The data were again subjected to rank-ordering as had been done for the total sample. A comparison of the rank orders revealed that in an effort to provide a product which would be acceptable to a broad spectrum of users, developers failed in many respects to satisfy the requirements of family households. Indeed, a comparison of family and non-family households demonstrated that the level of satisfaction is significantly lower among family respondents than among non-family respondents. Consequently, the second hypothesis addressed in this study is supported by the evidence. This study concluded that, because of limited experience with the townhouse condominium concept, inadequate information relating to the design preferences of specific groups resulted in expressed dissatisfaction among family respondents. To increase satisfaction among members of this and other groups, townhouse projects must be designed, developed and marketed for a specific and homogeneous population. This challenges developers and planners to define the preferences of particular groups and to devise appropriate tools to ensure that the requirements are met to the satisfaction of the resident and the developer alike.

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