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A survey of townhouse owners' preferences for private outdoor space Greig, Barbara Jean

Abstract

Due to a variety of economic pressures, medium-density housing forms, particularly the townhouse, have become increasingly popular alternatives to detached housing. The design of the communal and private outdoor space in townhouse projects has been criticized for a lack of space and privacy. The objectives of this study were to describe townhouse owners, determine their satisfaction with the project and the size, privacy, and design of back yards, and test whether their evaluations could be predicted from their demographic characteristics, housing background, or their attitudes about housing and the use and design of outdoor space. To satisfy these objectives, interviews were conducted with ninety owners in nine townhouse projects located in the Greater Vancouver area of B.C. The projects were randomly selected from eligible projects in four municipalities and respondents were selected by interviewing residents found at home during the week or on weekends. Factor analysis, cluster analysis, and regression analysis were used to test for predictors of satisfaction. The townhouse owners represented a broad range of ages, incomes, family sizes, and housing backgrounds. Overall satisfaction with the projects and yards was high, and the majority rated privacy as adequate. Regression analysis predicted 25% of the variance in general ratings, 20% of the variance in privacy ratings, and 20% of the variance in ratings of social problems in the projects. All three rating measures were predicted by regressions significant at p=.10. The most useful predictors included the reasons people were living in townhouses, their attitudes about family use of the back yard, and what kind of housing they had lived in. Based on the findings, recommendations were made for the size of yards and patios, privacy fencing, paving materials, lawns, plantings, general site design, and management.

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