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.
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.
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 a 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 the 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.
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 the concierge, party rooms, pools, full-scale gym and rooftop BBQ’s is not uncommon. They are also not restricted by an 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.