R-Hauz Transforms Owned Real Estate with Housing-as-a-Product
As a Principal & Co-Founder of R-Hauz Solutions Inc., Leith R. Moore draws on his extensive development experience to create innovative housing solutions for our cities. R-LABS, Leith and the R-Hauz co-founders came together to develop two distinct products that allowed landowners to reimagine their existing lots within Toronto’s city planning framework. In the article below, Leith shares how housing-as-a-product can be configured for diverse needs and make better use of existing land.
Housing affordability is top of mind in urban centres around the world. Many municipalities are working with developers to increase supplies, but we also need to look at our existing inventory.
Across the city, there are landowners with underutilized property on some of Toronto’s most coveted avenues. While they love their neighbourhoods, the structures on their lots no longer meet their needs. This leaves them with two options: move or rebuild. Unfortunately, most of these people don’t have the time or ability to manage a lengthy construction project but also don’t want to leave the familiarity of their local establishments.
With that in mind, we wanted to create a solution that would allow landowners to upgrade their property without the hassle of traditional construction. It was important for us to keep people at the centre of our vision, and that meant creating a solution that would accommodate a diverse range of needs. So rather than spending our time buying land and waiting for approvals, we set out to help urban landowners self-solve their housing needs on their existing lots.
Creating Flexible Housing Solutions
From business owners to families, people need access to real estate that fulfills a wide range of purposes without compromising on location. The vision behind R-Hauz was to let people choose what they need for their land and give them a turnkey solution that meets their needs.
Specifically, we needed to create more functional space on existing lots. Planners in Toronto often refer to the “over-housed situation,” where the areas behind the main streets are full of partially occupied houses. In many cases, the underutilized space is the result of changing family dynamics. The homes may be owned by parents who find it increasingly more difficult to take on substantial renovations as they age. In some cases, their adult children may also be in the market for essential housing, but don’t want to move back into their old family home. We also see a number of people who would love to provide their senior parents with barrier-free spaces. This would allow their parents to remain close but also live independently within the home.
If we can provide people with a way to self-solve these housing needs, I think that’s a winning solution. Whether it’s in-law suites or rental units, the R-Hauz products empower landowners to make the decision that’s right for them. And by working within the city planning framework, we’re able to deliver these products in just a few months, which makes it much more accessible. That’s what really differentiates R-Hauz from everything else in the market.
Building Better Homes
In development, you bleed away a lot of capital and energy getting approvals. I knew that if we weren’t fighting in that area, we could spend a lot more time focusing on design and building better homes. We wanted to deliver added value to our customers at every step, and we’re incredibly proud of what we were able to achieve – from the initial designs to finishing touches.
The back end of the whole R-Hauz experience is it is entirely different from traditional development. We remove the risks of on-site construction by building our products offsite and then delivering the component to the site for assembly. This process makes it much faster for people to get back into their homes and is less intrusive for their surrounding neighbours.
We’re very cognizant of how people experience and live in our homes. From low noise ratings to exposed wood beams, the R-Hauz products are designed to enhance the day-to-day lives of our customers. For example, we were influenced by European midrise homes, which have a front window and back window in every unit. While it may seem small, it’s actually a stunning achievement. This layout not only provides passive heating and cooling opportunities, but it’s also significantly safer.
High-Efficiency Building Systems
Our building systems leverage a range of high-efficiency technologies, including radiant heating and cooling under the floor. We have a very sophisticated system that regulates heating and cooling. If you open the windows on a hot day, the cooling runs forever. Our systems are built to turn off the air conditioning and dehumidify the unit when a certain dewpoint occurs.
We consider our environmental impacts at every stage of development. Our products are built using slab on grade, so there’s no digging on-site and little impact on adjacent buildings. We’ve also put in the groundwater infiltration systems and created permeable parking with a drainage and retention system underneath it. In our bathrooms, we’re using new technology that recycles shower water for use in the toilets. Being able to harness these green technologies is a win for everyone.
The Future of Housing-as-a-Product
Because the R-Hauz products can be repeated in manufacturing, we were able to create products that are beautiful, scalable and efficient. But when your productize something, it can be tempting to rest on your laurels. We knew we wanted a solution that would grow with us, so part of our process was defining how we would iterate on our success. Our mantra is “faster, smarter, cheaper” – so as good as we think our products are, we’re always pushing to make them better.
Innovation is ingrained in our company culture because we know that when we stop progressing, we will fall behind. Our mechanical and electrical teams are continually sharing new ways to improve our building systems. Our leadership teams travel the world, looking for inspiration in thriving communities. And when faced with challenges, our teams come together to find solutions.
Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful is a book that stuck with me long after I read it, and we’ve brought that thinking to R-Hauz. We set out to make a small, repeatable project that would lead to sustainable happiness, health and wellness. Because what’s it’s good for people is good for our cities – in Canada and beyond.