Micro units are small, self-contained studio apartments, which may be beneficial in central locations where higher land costs can be a barrier to affordability. The report presented case studies for both rental housing and homeownership.
Across countries and cities, micro units have a lower net cost overall to rent or own than more traditional units in the area, but costs on a per square foot basis are higher. Experiences in Seattle have highlighted the importance of ensuring that micro units are adequate in terms of size and provisions.
Modular construction involves off-site factory construction of modules that are then assembled at the development site. Modular construction can help reduce costs, reduce construction time, reduce machinery/disruption to the neighbourhood, and allow for construction on difficult-to-access sites.
Takeaways for Toronto based on the case study findings:
- Omitting the bells and whistles – forgoing non-essential amenities, rather than providing upscale amenities/services, in order to achieve greater affordability.
- Ensuring livability by developing standards, e.g. minimum unit size, daylighting requirements, storage, soundproofing, etc.
- Factory friendly – modular construction can allow for well-designed developments at a lower cost.
- Encouraging energy-efficient micro design in order to lower energy costs for end users.