Lot depth / layout feedback

shiltsyApril 26, 2013

We are finally getting to the point of purchasing a lot and starting the design process. We are looking in a small subdivision of 25 homes and lots averaging around 3 acres. We've had our eye on one particular lot for almost a year and were deflated yesterday when we found it had a purchase agreement signed last week. The market is definitely heating up, and we can't wait around.

The lot next to it is a great second choice with the benefit of a 10 mile hilltop view from the front porch, but I'm a little nervous about the lot depth. The lot is just under 3 acres with the entire back and one side of it wooded. The open space that we can build on is around 320' wide and 170' deep. We're planning a two story home around 3500+ sq ft with side load garage... not a monster house.

I laid out a model last night with the following:
- 60' set back from road to front of house
- house dimensions around 65' wide by 40' deep
- garage off to the side and would add to that width by about 35'
- pool in back yard (maybe offset to the side)
- eventually an outbuilding/guesthouse off to the side
- leaves a backyard around 60' deep assuming pool is offset

We are meeting with the developer and architect this weekend to discuss building placement before we move forward on a purchase agreement. That said, I really trust the common sense feedback of this forum, so wanted to see if anyone had thoughts before our meeting Sunday.

We've moved a lot and lived in several homes, so this is a long term build for us. Just want to make sure that the lot is great (not good) for what we're planning. If anyone has similar dimensions or thoughts on the layout, I'd love to hear your feedback. Below is a very rough layout to scale that I put together to help visualize.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lot Layout Idea

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The site concept seems rather utilitarian at first glance--just placing some rectangles without any apparent design concept for them and the spaces between them--but I could be wrong. And looking at the aerial, I can't tell about topography or views, other than your description, so it's really not possible to consider topographical issues (if any).

Site planning Issues to consider (if you have not already):

--Which way is south ( major direction for usable and controllable sun)?
--Are there other desirable short and long views?
--Is surface run-off an issue--if so, how will you keep water away from the buildings?
--Do you need well, septic and leech field space?
--Why not create some thoughtful larger, as well as more intimate, outdoor spaces in the back of the house by placing major buildings in "L" , "U" or "T" configurations? As shown, there appears little thought to the spaces between buildings and their visual/functional appeal;
--Do you spent time (or entertain) outdoors? If so, what about a porch, deck, patio or other such area(s), as well as counterbalancing "soft" areas?
--Are you a gardener or appreciate flower/blooming plants in Spring and Fall? If so, how about an enclosed herb garden (keep rabbits, etc out); placing special plant materials for seasonal color where they can be viewed from inside and outside;
--Why have house and garage parallel the street, with the lack of visual privacy for the house (of course, proper landscaping may help with house privacy) and the large garage doors visible from the front façade along the street?

Just some quick intuitive thoughts, but these are the sort of things you should be exploring rather than just "plunking" down some rectangular building shapes.

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 10:07AM
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Direction and climate are big considerations. I live with severe winters, so sun angle, snowdrift potential, and prevailing wind direction have a huge impact.

Personally, I don't like to have the garage doors be the focal point of the front elevation. With such a large lot, you could position the garage to the side, with doors on the side. Of course topography can impact that decision.

Our house is 45ð off square - the living room faces SW, patio door and deck on SE side. The NW wall (from whence come our winter winds) have no windows. We didn't plan it that way, but it works beautifully - we get full sun in the winter, when we really need it, but not a lot of direct sunlight in the living spaces during the hot summer months.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 10:18AM
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Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. This was a very rough 30 minute exercise and the architect developer will be putting together a formal site plan. To answer a few questions:

- Rear of the home will face almost straight south. We live in Minnesota, so a cold climate and windows on the south will be optimized to bring a ton of sunlight into the house.
- Garage will be side load. I hate the front facade being dominated by garage doors.
- Good call thinking about placing the home at an angle. I really want our backyard to be a private retreat. The 80 acre parcel behind us is protected, so there won't be buildings on the other side of that wooded area. To the east, the next house over is about 150+ yards. To the west more woods and a house 75 yards beyond that wood line.
- The lot is fairly flat, but there will be excavation to ensure runoff / walk out / etc.
- We will have well and septic. One of the things we're doing this weekend is determine what areas perc'd and where exactly we can place the drain field.
- Virgilcarter, you're right... there was no thought given to the placement on this map. I just wanted to see how much I'd be able to "stretch my arms" on this lot with a few buildings. We'll get much more detailed as the design process moves forward.

How do you all feel about a 60' setback from the road? Adequate?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 10:33AM
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I'm a MN girl too!

I would want the house closer to the woods. Putting the garage on the NW side of the house offers some protection from wind, but with your North-facing driveway, you are going to be dealing with snow.

Our neighbors have a pool, and our trees are the bane of their existence. In fact, we cut down an ash tree that was close to the pool, because of the amount of leaves and seeds that ended up in the pool (they were very close friends - I wouldn't cut a tree for just anyone). I would put the pool more to the east side of the house, with the pool house behind it. That maximizes the sunlight you'll get on the pool during the day, which will make a big difference on how much you have to pay to heat it! It is also more pleasant to be in the pool in the sunshine (based on our experience next door). Being on a dead end street, you won't have a ton of traffic, so having the pool in the side yard instead of back won't affect privacy a lot. You'll need a fence anyway - you can put a privacy fence facing the road, though I would use open fencing towards the woods.

Have fun!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 1:00PM
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I'm your neighbor to the west in ND so I understand the severe winters! I am not sure of a way you can do this with your lot, but having the driveway get at least a portion of the southern sun in the winters will help keep it from becoming an ice skating rink in the winter (i.e., keeping it out of the shadow of the pool house). Our friends have a driveway which doesn't any sunlight and they are always out chipping the driveway while ours has long since melted away.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 4:26PM
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We have a north facing driveway now. It definitely takes more work, but I need something to get me outside during our ridiculously long winter!

I will update everyone as we work through the lot layout and design process. We couldn't be more excited!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 6:56PM
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Hi, We're building in MN too!
What leaps out at me with your proposed site plan is that there's a chunk of grass to the East of the pool house that you wouldn't be using at all, and wouldn't be visible from the house or pool.

I'd be inclined to move everything East so you have more space to landscape to the West of the house, where you could see it from the house, and more easily access it.

Since you've got a 10 mile hilltop view, I'm wondering how windy the lot is. Something else to consider, especially for pool placement...

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 9:25PM
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