Please help--can't get house to fit on lot

dreambuilderFebruary 28, 2013

We are trying to buy and build on lots 19a and 18a. Lot 18a can not be built on b/c it is the low point so that will be our backyard. Lot 19a slopes so much to the right of the picture that we can not have our driveway on that side b/c the driveway would have too steep a slope. We can build a walk-out. The house on the lots to the left were built right to the lot line (they got a variance to ignore the 5' setback from the lot line). As you can see the set-backs are penciled in.

The lot length is 144.97' but has to be 5' from the left, 20' from the right and 25' from the front of the lot and that is to the eaves of the house which would be 2'. My question is---I do not like how it is laid out b/c it would be impossible to get in and out of the driveway easily and I would basically be backing up into my neighbors house if the garage is built as is. I wanted a side load garage but that looks to be impossible. Can anyone sketch up another alternative? Perhaps an angled design? I would like to block views to the right, or have few windows to that side if possible (which is why I wanted garage over there). We want to build an approximately 2,400 sq. foot ranch. I really hate the look of driving up to a house that is all garage which is why I wanted a side load but what else can I do? Thoughts?

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You have a situation of an incompatible house plan coupled with lots that are difficult to develop, having a range of constraints.

Why don't you:
1. Change your house plan to be specific to your site's conditions;
2. Buy other lots that are simpler to develop and fit better with your pre-conceived house plan?

What you need is an experienced architect or designer to advise you before you buy the lots and arrive at a final house plan.

It's hard to give any specific advice, since your site plan is difficult to understand. I wonder if you couldn't get a variance in order to build adjacent to the 10' untility easement that seperates lot 19 A from 18A. Since you are buying both lots, there is little reason for a set back between them, inasmuch as they are one single property.

My first design thought would be to make the drive parallel, not acute, to the left property line, and explore various plan shapes that will fit within the required setback lines. My first thought is an "L" shape, with one leg parallel to the utility easement and the perpendicular leg pointed to ward the lower property line.

This seems like such a simple situation to avoid. Why is it so difficult?

Good luck on your project.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 9:34AM
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dreambuilder, I subsequently wondered if the local jurisdiction gave the neighboring property a variance to build up to the property line, why wouldn't you seek a similar variance to build up to (or at least closer to) the property line on the right?

If it's acceptable for your neighbors to do so, why wouldn't it be acceptable for you?

It would certainly make the property easier to develop.

Only a thought.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 9:52AM
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virgilcarter is this image what you are describing to try? We are building about 5 hours away so that adds to the problems. We could seek a variance and I'm sure have it granted but was trying to work within existing confines to avoid the delay of going that route....trying to have house done by late summer for a whole bunch of reasons....I know that is not ideal to be in a time crunch but we are....

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 9:59AM
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Your sketch isn't what I initially had in mind, but it might work. It's obvious disadvantage is that it places the bulk of one leg of your house directly adjacent to the lot-line house of your neighbor. The result would be 5' "tunnel" between the two houses. If you don't care about that or your neighbor's reactions, this idea might be worth pursuing.

What I had in mind was to reverse the "L" shape of your sketch, such that one leg would be along the property line easement (as you have shown) and the other leg would be along the property line at the bottom property line. The garage would be located at the end of the "L" closest to your neighbor's property line. Garage entry might be on the side of the garage closest to you neighbor (a side loading garage) or on the side facing the street (a front loading garage), depending on choice, space available and plan arrangement.

If you could get a side property line variance for the 20' setback, you likely could make enough room for a side entry garage closest to your neighbor.

I don't understand the typography of your lot, so the slope may make my suggestion impractical and your idea the only feasible concept.

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 12:29PM
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Unless I am missing something, the only reason you could not fit a 2400 sf house with a sideload garage on lot 19A is if the house is wider than 90'.
Is this the case?
If you are going to do something like you show on the sketch, I suggest you to align the house to the front property line (the 144.97' one). That will (closely) align the side of the house to the 85.24' line (if the house has 90 degree angles).

The sketch you drew is about 4500 s.f. not including the garage leg.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 4:38PM
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Although we had about 47 acres available, we wanted for several reasons to place the house on just one acre at one corner of the tract. The well and septic had to fit with suitable mandated separations from each other and the house. We decided what the interior of the house should have- # of bedrooms, baths, traffic patterns, etc. Then we looked for a plan that was suited to the lot and which had the interior accommodations desired. Found one plan that was close and modified it to suit. This was our first experience at this sort of thing. The results are quite good.
Could you try this process?
This process of necessity makes the outside design one of the lesser priorities. We have no problem with that as we do not see it when we are sleeping.

This post was edited by bus_driver on Thu, Feb 28, 13 at 19:59

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 5:33PM
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Thanks for the help--still trying different configurations.....if you find a picture you think would be helpful let me know...I think I'm having trouble b/c I've envisioned what I "want" and that is going to be different than what I can get...

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 8:07PM
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dream said, "...I think I'm having trouble b/c I've envisioned what I "want" and that is going to be different than what I can get..."

Yep, that's why homeowners who spent a lot of their time working on floor plans largely waste their time.

A better use of time is to prepare a list of needs and wants, and bring them with a copy of their site plan to an experienced and talented architect or designer. Taking an owner's needs and as many wants as possible and fitting them on the owner's site is what these professionals are educated, trained, tested, licensed and in business to do.

Not may consumers have a comparable degree of competence. Just a thought.

In this case, it seems as if something--house design or land--has to change.

Good luck on your project.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 8:22PM
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I agree virgilcarter, by no means am I an expert but I like to fiddle with house plans and I find a lot of joy in it. We are looking for a different lot and we might find something or we might revert back to trying to make this lot work--in both scenerios I look forward to the advice along the way:)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 8:36PM
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There's no way you can have a house by mid-summer if you are still looking at property.

Accept that and if you really like these two, get an architect to work with you.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 6:52AM
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Couple comments:

What I'm hearing is that you like a certain piece of land and a certain house plan -- but they don't match.

An analogy: You go to the mall and find a great pair of pants: They fit perfectly, make you look ten pounds lighter, are a fantastic color, and they don't require any tailoring. YOU WANT THOSE PANTS. You also find a shirt. Again, it's a perfect fit, the neckline is perfect, you look great in this shirt. YOU WANT THAT SHIRT. But the two don't match. They don't go together at all. You can't have both -- or, at least you can't wear them together.

The same concept works with the house: If the two items don't work together, one or the other has to be changed. You can't force them to fit, if they just aren't compatible.

I also agree with LazyGardens that you're not likely to move into this house this summer if you're still in the process of choosing a property. This is something to do right, not to do fast.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 8:36AM
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Stairs use some floor space. Since we have a full basement, the stairs for second floor consumed little additional space. A second floor adds area while not increasing the footprint or even permitting a smaller footprint. A detached garage might offer some possibilities with the attendant drawbacks involved.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 3:58PM
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You already own the two lots, so you should find a home plan that takes full advantage of the challenges and the benefits.

A smaller cottage home might be a better fit. You could keep the walk out basement and add a few bedrooms and a bath upstairs. Possibly even a playroom over the garage.

With such a lovely large area in the back, I would like my kitchen and dining/living areas to be open to that view. Have you looked through some of the smaller Don Gardner plans? Here is one possibility and it would be quite easy to add basement stairs to this plan.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to Don Gardner cottage home plan

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 1:05PM
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