Infill is a hot topic of discussion in the Boise area. Articles over the past several months in the Idaho Statesman have mentioned infill on both small and large scale projects; the Northend and Bench seem to be targets for the smaller scale and Crescent Rim (with the proposed mega-condo units) is an example of a much larger scale.
Infill means less sprawl, which benefits everyone, from less pollution to less dollars funding new roads and providing new services. But infill changes the characteristics of a neighborhood architecturally, increasing density and perhaps even demographically. Architecturally, some small scale projects-narrow lots that need to support the square foot requirements expected of a contemporary house -offer up challenges. I am not all that thrilled with the ones that have gone up, but I think there is enough diversity (architecturally) in most neighborhoods that infill projects will blend in over time.
I picked this house because it is an example of a small scale infill housing type-tall, skinny on a narrow lot-that was introduced to Boise some 95 years ago. This house and the one next to it (to the south) have always been favorites of mine. The footprint of the house consumes most of its tiny lot (.05 acres/2,000sf+/-). The front yard is "landscaped" with bark and transitions to a narrow strip that runs along the south side of the house, just wide enough to make for an intimate little courtyard space. There is a small space on the west side, probably not capable of sustaining a gazebo structure but grass or pavers for sure.
The house is a two-story with a simple gabled roof. Decorative shingles clad the exterior and it appears that most of the wood windows and trim are original. The front porch appears to have been enclosed, based on the window style, I might guestimate it occurred in the 50's or 60's. The majority of the openings have aluminum storm windows. Transitioning from the front porch to the interior of the house, the low ceiling really caught my attention, perhaps because the house is currently inhabited and filled with other's belongings that I had to overt my eyes. I do not think the low ceiling is the result of some energy conservation measure taken during the 70's, but I could be wrong. I would still take a hammer to it and find out, there might be another 5 to 6 inches and besides, that panel ceiling should go anyway.
The main level has a living room, kitchen, office (?), bath and bedroom. The living and bedroom are carpeted-all of which will need replacing. The kitchen has some aged sheet vinyl flooring, tiled walls, white cabinets (look original) and countertops with an aluminum and red striped edge band, which should definitely be retained. The bathroom is tiled and sheet vinyled-it is pretty small with just a shower, toilet and vanity. There is a second door that leads to another storage space which could provide some expansion space if needed.
The bedroom is accessed through the kitchen and has its own door leading to the outside, for those quick getaways. The upstairs has a bedroom with an accessory space at the top of the stairs, which currently functions as a rec room and closet/dressing room space for the bedroom. The space is lit with natural light at both ends. The basement is primarily utility type functions with ample storage. There are egress windows (I do not know if they meet code) which could allow for an additional bedroom.
PROS: No yard to maintain-think of the summer water bill savings! The alley will make for a great Bocce or Pétanque court. What a difference a coat of paint, inside and outside could make, but please, something other than landlord white. The alley is the property line-given the City's zoning requirements, if someone wanted to raise the structure I do not see how they could rebuild anything on the lot-the house stays-deal with it!
CONS: It needs some attention both inside and out. Street parking only-good luck!
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