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House in a box up for sale for $349,000

Susan Pigg – Toronto Star

When architect Rohan Walters held an open house to show off his towering new creation at 157 Coxwell Ave. back in 2003, he had to recruit friends to be impromptu traffic cops.

More than 3,000 people flocked to the crazy house on stilts over two days — far more than its three tiny floors of eco-friendly concrete slab could handle.

Now Walters is bracing for the ultimate test of his talents.

Next week the lofty landmark is going up for sale for the first time — for $349,000.

“I won’t be at this open house. I’m still traumatized by the last one,” says Walters with a laugh.

Realtor Jennifer Scaife debated for days and asked other real estate experts for advice before coming up with a list price for the one-bedroom, 800 square foot detached house which sits on a sloping 23-by-205 foot lot just west of Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood.

The towering house, which Walters has rented out the last nine years, feels more cottagey than cramped, although the current tenants are busy decluttering for the January open houses.

“There is just nothing to compare it to. It’s one of a kind,” says Scaife during a tour of each methodically crafted 16-by-16 foot floor.

“It will sell itself, but I have to find that one person who is looking for this and doesn’t even know they are looking for it. When they find it, they are going to fall all over themselves.”

It has no furnace, or basement. A parking pad is tucked between stilts that not only compensate for the slope of the property, which is sandwiched between an apartment building and a hodgepodge of houses, but also minimize vibrations from streetcars on busy Coxwell Ave.

But it’s sure cheap to keep. Taxes run just $1,272 a year and the place is so energy efficient, monthly utilities average just $95.

Radiant heat keeps the concrete floors, and rooms, toasty in winter. In summer the open stairs (the railings are fashioned out of aircraft cable) and a glass-and-steel garage door that opens up much of the south wall keeps hot air moving up and out the top floor to a tiny deck.

What passes for the kitchen, however, is a chef’s minimalist nightmare.

There are no cupboards. A washer and dryer are tucked under a small countertop. An antique shelf holds a few kitchen essentials, but the tenants are taking it with them, along with the pine cupboard that holds their dry goods.

Ditto the stained glass window in the bathroom which may block the spectacular view of the trees from the tub, but helps keep you on good terms with the neighbours.

157 Coxwell Avenue

The wiring runs outside the walls, in conduit grooved into the door and baseboard trim. The ceilings are exposed pine joists (the bare wood helps regulate the heat and humidity.)

Each floor is just 16-by-16 because that’s all Walters could afford at the time, but the house is designed to be added to over time.

There are no closets. Walters wanted each floor left open to interpretation. The current tenants just hang their clothes on the wire railings.

The faded exterior panels need painting and the gangplank to the front door — Walters prefers to call it a bridge — may be a little off-putting for some.

But Walters is looking for that “one in 20″ who can see outside the box and appreciate the skill it takes to build an efficient, comfortable, environmentally friendly home where no one else would dare.

Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960

Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto Realtor with Century 21 Regal Realty. He did not
write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who are
interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.


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