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Lofts in Ottawa


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All you need to know about Lofts in Ottawa

An authentic Hard Loft is a rare beast. Lofts in Ottawa are in short supply due to the nature of their origin. In order to fit this category, a former industrial or commercial use space must be converted into a residentia... Read More

All you need to know about Lofts in Ottawa

An authentic Hard Loft is a rare beast. Lofts in Ottawa are in short supply due to the nature of their origin. In order to fit this category, a former industrial or commercial use space must be converted into a residential living space. Out of this formula, some common elements arise. Old, often exposed brick, visible mechanical elements of the building such as pipes and beams, large windows and vaulted ceilings. The latter is the element from which a loft derives its name. A lofted ceiling that allows a living space to feel much larger than the square footage of the floor plan. Ceiling heights from 11 to16 ft are common.

There are no rules regarding whether or not a loft includes separate bedrooms. There may be no separation at all. Partition walls at less than ceiling height may be present or a second floor with partial walls or overlooks can be found. These are usually seen in units where the ceiling height is generous enough to allow room for a partial second floor.

The conversion of these commercial buildings are one-off. Often what makes them stand out are the singular elements associated with that particular building. Some will feature 100 yr old flooring, the wide beams and large nails that made up the factory floors of the day. Others may be touted for the uniqueness of the brick used to construct the building or the shape and style of the stonework. Window style will also be particular to each building, with original glass and frames, shape and size all contributing to the style of the lofts in Ottawa.

Of special interest, will be the history of the building. The story that these conversions tell is almost as important as the design in conveying the style of the home. The original use, any subsequent commercial conversions and the date of the original construction, all contribute to setting the buildings apart. All of these factors naturally limit the height of the buildings, but not necessarily the amenities. There are Hard Lofts that also include common areas, fitness rooms and shared rooftop spaces. Of particular interest are buildings that have been reclaimed from the public domain such as schools and churches.

The other criteria that must be filled is location. While this applies to every home and business, the trick with Hard Lofts is there must be underutilized or vacant industrial space near to an urban centre. Simply converting a vacant factory in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t have much appeal. Look for office, commercial and retail conversion as live work spaces to fill the gap in demand. It is also important to note the distinction between living spaces and those designated for mixed use, as this adds volume to the available Hard Loft category. Those with dual zoning are sometimes listed as artists spaces, or live work units. Both styles are more likely to be found in urban centres with high foot traffic.

The price tag associated with these one of a kind lofts in Ottawa, is not often congruent with the artists label they may receive. In some cities this was born of the use of buildings that could house projects, but were not necessarily converted to living spaces. In the past, inexpensive, unused industrial space was a great fit for artists. Necessities like plumbing and heat, were ignored in favour of the affordability. City zoning and housing laws will play a large part in determining what’s on offer for Hard Lofts today. Each city will determine what constitutes a space fit for living, and where inhabitants are allowed to offer commercial services from their residence.

All you need to know about soft lofts in Ottawa

Soft Lofts are new builds designed to offer the space and style of a hard loft. The demand for hard lofts far exceeds availability and the costs associated with these one of kind spaces, place them out of reach for many buyers. Here is where the Soft Loft comes to life. Builders, eager to fill the demand for open concept spaces, adopted the term loft and applied it to units which outside of the conversion elements, fit the design and style criteria of a loft.

More commonly found in low and mid rise buildings, upper floors in high rise buildings may also have units that have been given a Soft Loft treatment. The popularity of the Soft Loft is growing along with demand for higher ceilings, open floor plans and unique design elements. Luckily supply is high, since the units are created with new builds, there is no limit on how many can hit a given market. However, due to the low supply Hard lofts are more likely to retain their value over time and suffer less vulnerability to market shifts.

Expect to find a wide range of styles. Many units will mimic Hard loft design features, while the external building may be represented in a more modern style. Many of the architectural components in a Hard loft may differ and so too do the elements of a Soft Loft. The expanse of options can make choosing a Soft Loft more difficult, the lower prices will surely ease that burden. You’ll find completely open concept units, partially walled bedrooms and open concept overlook sleeping quarters. Large windows will be an easy to find feature as they lower the construction costs for the building. Soft lofts may also still include features such as exposed brick, polished concrete floors, wood beams and other industrial elements.

One of the biggest bonuses of Soft Lofts is their inclusion in building projects that compete for best amenities. New build condos have to offer a wide and exciting range of amenities to attract potential buyers. Finding a soft loft in a building that also has concierge, party rooms, pools, full scale gym and rooftop BBQ’s is not uncommon. They are also not restricted by any existing structure. A soft loft can be built into any design or building, offering more options for style and layout. Developers will sometimes use the mixing of these elements. They design multiple building complexes, combining Condo units, Soft Lofts and Townhomes into a single project.


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Lofts Specialist

Mike Devonish
 
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