Northwest Seattle: Grandchild of the Catalog House

I’ve been whining about cookie-cutter townhouses lately. Seems like all the non-condo new places I see are three-story Hardi-boxes. Slight differences among the them, but not enough to claim uniqueness.

Which got me wondering: If I want to buy new construction in my corner of the city, am I doomed to purchase the infill equivalent of tract housing? I decided to find out.

Redfin listed 44 northwest Seattle properties as new construction on Feb. 19. All but two were townhouses. I didn’t find a full-lot, single-family home until I hit $899,000.

Wow! Just – wow!

And then it hit me. These townhouse blueprints are today’s version of the bungalow pattern books prevalent in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s. They’re the affordable option for builders targeting the lower end of the market. No need for an architect to design something from scratch every time. Just whip out a tried-and-true floor plan and vary the finishes a little.

I own a pattern house. I know because my next-door neighbor has the same layout under a different roofline. Over the years, however, both houses have changed to the point where the differences are more apparent than the similarities.

Maybe that’s what’s going to happen to these townhouses. After 85 years of remodeling, each will seem quaint and distinctive, instead of vanilla.

And I’ll seem like a doddering old crank who complained about nothing.