Building a new home.. Accomodate neighbors parking issue??

Jason143NBPDJanuary 12, 2014

Ok.. Now I understand that this should be one of the least of our concerns but wanted to get others opinions.. Now mind you we are still in the early stages of building but I have spoke with a few friends about this issue and get mixed answers.. Anyway.. Here it goes.. We are looking to build a new home in an area that is not "spread out".. Houses are fairly close to each other.. So we came up with a floor plan / style home and we decided that our driveway/garage would be on the west side of the property which will be adjacent to the neighbors driveway.. The problem is that the property was originally owned by an elderly man and the only thing dividing the neighbors driveway to the property is a small 5 or 6 inch raised thin piece of block.. This block runs the length of the neighbors driveway.. Now the neighbors driveway is very narrow...So I have noticed that the neighbor parks his vehicle and will open the door and it will swing over the block.. Now what I am thinking is that once I build the home I plan on putting up a nice white dividing fence that will run from the beginning of the driveway to the back of the property.. If I put up this fence the neighbors driveway will become useless because it will be such a tight squeeze.. It "MAY" be possible for 1 person to enter/exit the vehicle but I really dont see it happening.. Now my question.. What would you do? As I see it I have three options:

Option A: Just play it off as tough luck and build the house/property the way I want and let him/her deal with the issue..

Option B: Eliminate the fence and just upgrade to a nicer small block so he can enter/exit vehicle by walking on my property to enter/exit vehicle and/or swinging car doors over property line onto my property to enter/exit vehicle..

Option C: Put up fence further into property to allow extra room for length of his/her driveway

Now for the problems by going with such options..

Option A: Start neighbor relationship off badly which could escalate to further issues

Option B: Now have his/her car doors opening onto my property where my vehicles will be parked.. Possibly damaging vehicles.. Or walking onto my property to enter/exit his/her vehicle and possibly getting injured (slip/fall)

Option C: Basically giving away property that I spent hard money to buy..

So.. What would you do..

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So this fence you propose to build is set within your property line the requisite amount? You cant just build it on the property line without his permission (at least around here you can't) and it sounds like he'd be crazy to give it. I may have to give the un-neighborly response here and say if you are following that inset guideline and want the privacy, I'd go for it but maybe approach him first, just for a discussion on how it might impact and if he can offer any other solutions. It sounds to me like whoever set up his drive made a horrible miscalculation and didn't make it it wide enough. I don't think that should be your problem to solve and I wouldn't want the equivalent of a shared driveway like that but then again I value my privacy greatly.

He may come back with an offer to compensate you for some of your land to make his drive useable..this would be the fair solution if your willing.

If you build it and it does rub him the wrong way be ready for the side facing his lot to take some damage...Likely he isn't going to be too pleased and isn't going to be careful around it at all.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 4:35AM
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Having a good relationship with the people who live near me is very important. If I were in this situation, Option A would be eliminated.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 8:53AM
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I'm with niteshadepromises on this. It doesn't really matter what your friends say on the issue. Call the city or county, whoever is in charge of tour zoning and ask about your setbacks and where you can put a fence that the neighbor doesn't want. Is your neighbors lot set up that his driveway can move to the left some? Maybe you could pay (half maybe)to lay some additional cement to widen his driveway? You probably did get a bit of a discount on your land for some things that are already grandfathered in, like his driveway, even if you don't realize it.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 8:54AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Typically fences in the front yard can only be 4' high, so if you are thinking of a 6' privacy type fence on the property line, that's not gonna be possible anyway. Also, in a subdivision where the drives are right next to each other, it makes each property look that much smaller to segment it up with fences. I'd be in the no fence category even if it didn't negatively impact your neighbor. Remember that if your drive is all the way to the property line that you are creating the SAME issue with your door swing over onto his property. I'd pull it back onto my property by at least 5' (which is what my setbacks mandate, what about yours?) and try to keep the property line the least obstructed possible. Do you have a variance to be ale to build the drive all the way to the property line? Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Especially since you will be the one creating the problem that really doesn't exist until you come into the neighborhood.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 9:21AM
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No fence. Does it snow where you live? If so, propose to your neighbor that you remove the dividing curb so you can share plowing. Another thought is move your driveway over a few feet and plant a divider
, such as grass, grasses, or ground cover.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 9:54AM
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I'm going to be a little blunt. If you feel so strongly about property rights that an old man swinging his car door over the property line bothers you, this is probably not the right neighborhood for you.

I have lived in neighborhoods with small lots like this, and if you are ready to defend every inch of your property, you're going to drive yourself nuts.

He was there first. His driveway was there first. Make a plan for your use of your property assuming that he will continue on as he has. And if you are going to be constantly irritated by his violating the property line (for what? a couple minutes, a couple times a day?) go find a different lot.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 10:34AM
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This isn't a small concern. This is to be your home and where houses are fairly close together, this matters. You're wise to be considering all aspects now.

Is your neighbor's house and property such that their driveway could be widened by a foot or two in the other direction so that the door swing could be maintained? From experience, I can tell you that not discussing with them in advance is a set up for ruffled feathers at the least and possibly much worse. Do you want to get a knot in your stomach every time you come home and see the neighbor? Most people don't like change and it's possible that none of your efforts or suggestions will meet fully with their approval but at least they will not be in the dark and come home to a fence one day. I'd talk to them and would not even mention any of the possible solutions at first, but allow them to make the first suggestion. Tell them you would like to put up a fence and why. Is it to be a backdrop for a garden? Does it create a visual continuity with your build? You may be 100% within local ordinances to put up a fence that negatively impacts what they feel is their quality of life - that doesn't mean you should do it blithely and obviously you're not or wouldn't be here. They will have adjustments to make with a new build right next door - it's the nature of smaller lots. Be a good neighbor and bring them into the mix a little bit - it could pay off with a smoother build.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 10:45AM
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You designed in your problem; consider designing it out. Failing that, find out your legal rights as far as fencing. If you can make your driveway wider, that may avoid the problem of overlap.

Incidentally, I once owned a home with a similar setup. The driveway(s) were adjacent and paved as one with each owner respecting the other. (I owned the home on the left.)

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 11:27AM
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This is going to be a problem, even if the driveway would be on the other side of the seems you will be putting in a fence regardless.

I would do as suggested above and make a wide driveway (wider than you really need) so that each of you has plenty of access, without hitting doors, etc.

My mom has a similar set up and made a wide gravel driveway with low-maintenance plantings between (on her side) so that it looks very nice, but has plenty of room for everyone. As she says, it's nicer and she has less grass to mow and water...a win/win for her :)

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 1:58PM
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Ok.. So I am posting a quick satellite image to try and give you a better understanding.. The empty lot is the property I am planning on building on.. As you can see the neighbor in the right of the picture has a similar setup as to what I plan on doing which is having the fence run to the sidewalk.. That fence is on their side of the property line but is directly against my property which is what I proposed doing on the other side... I highlighted with the red arrow where the small block wall is that currently separates my property from the neighbors.. As you can see it runs the length of the driveway and upon reaching the end of the driveway it transitions into a small 3 or 4 foot chain link fence.. As you can see his driveway is on the narrow side.. Again as it stands right now it is just my assumption that he will not be able to to enter/exit his vehicle once the fence is up but even if he is able to it will be a very tight squeeze..

Now I am not out to be the "this is my property and stay away" type of guy.. I am all for being neighborly, however if I leave it as it currently is and god forbid the neighbor should slip and fall while enter/exiting his vehicle and is on my property then who is the one that will be worrying the most? And its not a big deal for a guy swinging his door but if I do make my driveway run up to the property line it is just an added thing to worry about..

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 4:07PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I would talk to the neighbor and express your desires and concerns. It doesn't look like he has any parking area at all...only driveway, which is something he may want to fix. You may also not want to run a fence all the way to the sidewalk in that it may make it difficult for you to see when pulling out of your own driveway. So you may be able to find a solution where you run the higher fence in the back and leave say 15' of lower fencing at the front so you can maintain whatever separation you want, keep the sight line and keep friendly with the neighbor.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 4:27PM
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So there's no set back for building in your area? How is that building on the right so close to your line? Or does your lot start 5' from that building?

What are the dimensions of your lot? How far back does it go? Do you plan to have a yard or garden area? Maybe just back patio?

If you're planning to build a home behind the garage, then I still think you could do a wider driveway with low maintenance plantings in between. This would solve a lot of problems....but you'd need enough room for the house and patio(?) to go further back.

Obviously, it's a tight fit. Looks like a challenge. Do you have a home plan, yet?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 5:08PM
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Maybe the neighbor to the right had permission from the lot owner at the time to build that fence?
How line has the house on the left been there? Setbacks change over time. You can likely look up the age of the house on the county assessors website.

The neighbor is not going to open his door and fall on your property and sue you. You are just trying to justify your fence. If you are worried about it, I would suggest you get an umbrella insurance policy for just over $100 a year. That will protect you from the neighbor kids who teepee your trees on Halloween and break their ankle when they trip on a rock.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 6:49PM
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Sophie Wheeler

I see why someone would give you that lot. It's not really buildable with a traditional home plan. It's what, 30' wide? 25'? Are you allowed to attach to the adjacent structures like a row house? What type of setbacks are currently mandated? I think on street parking might be your best bet to maximize space for the home. I lived in an urban location that was built before autos became common and there was no off street parking for the most part. The lots were 50' wide and some of the luckier homes (mostly four squares) were 40' and right against the property line and managed to get a 10' drive to a separate garage in the rear. If your lot is deep, that might also be an option for you that would also take care of the neighbor parking issue.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 7:37PM
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I live in an old part of the city where lots are tiny. My driveway was built for a Model T, I think. Our doors swing over our neighbors' garden. Fortunately, we are friends. I never thought about her putting up a fence there, but I suppose she could. I could also park my garbage cans right outside her dining room window, but I don't. Golden Rule and all that.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 7:40PM
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Narrow driveways like that were not meant for parking, but for access to a garage at the rear of the property. From the photo it looks like you could even place your house right on the lot line, never mind a fence! We can guess and ponder all day long, but all that matters is what the current building laws are today. Can you tell us what they are?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 10:20PM
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WOW! That is a reallllly narrow lot. You're not going to have 'any' privacy with houses that close.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 10:21PM
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What does the rest of the street look like? Surely there must be other houses with the same issue you are facing, how did they handle it?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 10:31PM
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The lot size is 65 by i believe 150 deep.. The house plan we are looking at is a 46 foot wide house.. This is the plan we are looking at..

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 1:09AM
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and level 2

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 1:11AM
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Having lived on a 35' wide house on a 50'x150' lot with a driveway on the property line and 5' on the other, I know it can be done. It did work best with a rear garage at the property line. That also provided a lot of privacy and a courtyard feel to the home.

Setbacks do change over time, and the neighborhood had a lot of existing structures that were grandfathered in and wouldn't be approved under the new rules. For instance, my rear garage. During inspection, it was determined that it was so termite damaged that it actually needed to be destroyed. Only thing was when I went to rebuild it, it was no longer approved to be on the property line where the slab was already poured. If I had known that, I would have accepted it "as is" with the damage and then renovated it. So, in the few years that I lived there, it never got rebuilt because I would have had to take down some massive trees and pour a whole new slab, etc.

You might want to talk with the city about the current setback rules, not what the neighbors have done in the past. And I would explore plans with a separate rear garage if at all possible. It will give you the most for your construction dollar for the home, and you can use the turnaround paving spot as part of a pretty private patio for a gathering spot for the home.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 10:41AM
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Could you consider planting a hedge instead of building a fence? It'll give you a "line" but it has several distinct advantages: 1) it won't appear IMMEDIATELY to be a big barrier, so it might not be taken in a rude way. 2) if you open your car door against a hedge, you don't damage the car. 3) it'll probably cost less than a fence.

Second, if I were the person who's been "using" a bit of your property all these years, I wouldn't think twice about you coming in and building right up to the line. I'd figure, "I've had the use of that empty lot all these years, but fair is fair, and the new owner has every right to build on his own property." I'd figure I needed to increase the size of my own driveway.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 12:00PM
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Wow, it sure doesn't look 65' wide...have you measured it? It just looks a little off, but maybe the vehicles are longer than normal? Or the lens is making it look smaller?

I like your plan! I think a front facing garage would be so much better...and it would give you the chance to have a nice wide driveway/parking and still have access around each side of your home.

A hedge sounds like a wonderful idea! :)

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 2:57PM
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either those are some giant cars or the camera angle is throwing me off.....b/c I agree that doesn't look 65' at all!

Either way....I second the idea about the hedges. I like to give myself at least 6 months or so before I piss off my adjacent neighbors.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 3:57PM
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I also like the idea of a (narrow) hedge. Defines a border but isn't as hard a barrier as a fence.

I think it would be tough to fit a side load garage on that lot because you need space to pull out and turn. I'd stick to front load, even though I'm not a fan of garages at the front. So I'd try a design with 2 doors, with the wall and door on the farthest side set back a few feet from the other half of the garage. That avoids the look of one big monolithic garage door.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 5:30PM
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I can believe 65'. The parked autos are 15' to 18' long. The shared driveway is probably the best solution. It certainly would be if you wanted vehicle access to the rear of your property. Perhaps a bucket truck for tree trimming or for moving roofing materials during replacement or repair.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 6:52PM
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Robin -- you might be surprised about the perception of privacy. We recently moved from a city duplex with 10 feet between us and the next duplex. However, we had a 6 ft privacy fence on 2 sides of the back yard and a 6 foot stone wall between us and our wall neighbors. The house was also built with the proximity in mind and our windows were mostly transoms up high on the sides. We never saw and rarely heard our neighbors on either side or behind us (an alley) unless we wanted to. Now, we are looking in another town. It isn't a city and lots are quite a bit bigger. However, in most places fences are not allowed. In some places, 5 back yards are all facing each other in relative proximity - as in, I and your other 3 neighbors could probably tell what paper you were reading and whether you drink orange juice or milk at breakfast. In addition, dogs running and driving each other crazy with the invisible fenced back yards.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 7:36PM
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I'm assuming you are changing the garage to front loading since you only have 17.5 ft left over of the lot and I'm assuming you need at least 5ft of each side for the building itself to the lot line.

Then you'll have a double wide driveway and have 5 ft to the right of it so no issue with your door swings. Is that correct?

Is the lot 65ft wide across at the front only or the narrowest point where you plan to put the house? Looks like the lot is wider by the street.

Can you grant the neighbor an easement to walk on your property? I think easements are done all the time and that may mitigate any lawsuits with being injured unless you had done something negligent. I'm not a lawyer though so ....

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:35PM
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This the short brick wall on your property or his or right done the middle? Are the survey markers still in place? I would be sure of this before you do anything. I would get professional advice on this.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 4:50PM
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About your floorplan...
If you have the ability to, I'd rearrange the upper floor bedrooms (in the upper left corner) and closets so that the upper left bedroom can have windows on the back wall (rather than the side). Esp with such a narrow lot.

I would also get rid of the second doors in each of the 2 hall baths (upstairs one and downstairs one). Both have the bedroom door right next to the bathroom door. No need to create a lockout issue having 2 doors into the bathrooms.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 12:04AM
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I'd also consider swapping the oven and stove locations.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 12:07AM
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While the opinions of others are as deserving of respect as my own, the double entry to the baths offers distinct advantages by giving direct access to the bath from the adjoining room. We have that arrangement in one of our baths and very much prefer it that way. In another case, the plumbing in the wall eliminated the space for a door that we wanted.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 8:24AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Forgive me for jumping in when I don't usually post in this forum. I agree that the lot appears to be less that 65' wide--it seems to be only about 1/3 of the stated 150' depth. Have you considered that your neighbor might already have been granted a right of way, and used that section for his driveway? The width of the lot looks as if it's about 3 times the length of the longer truck--if the truck is 18', the lot would be 54' wide. Add in the width of the neighbor's driveway, and you'll have nearly 65'.

This is just a shot in the dark, but while you're at the city building checking on the fence issue, you might try to find the record of the original plot, and compare that to the current description.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 12:15PM
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Haven't been on here in forever but you don't have room for a side load garage. I forget the turn ratio but it is like a minimum of 30' . . . Is the lot accessible from the back? I lived in a much smaller house on a similar size lot and there was an alley running behind the house - perfect for a garage. Because my house was so small, I didn't need it - there was plenty of room to share a driveway (much smaller than the posted one above :)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 8:39PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

If I had this house and this lot, I'd do a front load garage in a heart fact we have 11+ acres and plenty of room for a side load, but did a front load anyway as I like all the benefits such as guests know exactly where to park and where the front door is, so they use it, and the driveway is nice and short so less to shovel and seal. And I prefer to minimize the asphalt and the heat it entails in the summer and maximize the softness and look of green.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 8:58AM
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