Help with our site plan! Where to put the driveway!

auroraborelisSeptember 21, 2012

So our plans are done, we are nearly ready for submittal and then we realize there is yet another decision to be made... Where to put the driveway! This is very time sensitive as we need to have this back to the engineer so he can lay out the septic system by... well, yesterday!

We are on a large (2.6 acres) corner lot and we would like the driveway to open onto both streets. The actual location of the entrances shown can change.

I've attached what our home designer has drawn up and we aren't completly please with it. We would like some space for guests to leave their cars near the front door, without making a large parking area there.

My thoughts were to have the long part of the driveway in front be 16' wide, and then when it turns have it widen to 20' so there will be room to pass a car parked there.

For some size perspective, the dotted lines are our 30' setback restrictions, and the front of the driveway is to scale at 16'.

There will be a vineyard throughout the entire front yard, and our kitchen has 10' of windows looking out in that direction from the left of the front door (between the front door and the garage). I'd like to be looking out my "vineyard" not the driveway!

Any ideas/help much appreciatted!

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I think your initial thought is fine - why not go with that?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 1:16PM
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Unless the entire lot percs equally, the septic location (and well) is the first thing done, and then the house and drive location work around that. Doing a site plan any other way may leave you open to a pretty expensive system, or possibly even won't allow you to build if the soil doesn't perc enough for the amount of bedrooms planned.

During the boom when subdivisions were sprouting in old cotton fields faster than the cotton once did, we had a subdivision where a bunch of houses went up without a soil engineer's report. When it came time for the builder to put in the septic, the health department denied the permits because of the soil conditions. The builder couldn't afford the suggested community based treatment plant, went bankrupt, and those houses sit there like ghosts, unable to be occupied.

If a soil engineer's report was part of the original package when you bought the lot, and you've got a good idea of where your septic can go, then you can probably do the site plan first. But, I'd want the 100% sign off from the Health Department first before having a single machine start scraping back topsoil.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 2:09PM
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Live_wire_oak -

We have all the items you mentioned covered! Our house layout location works, and we know we have space to play with regarding the driveway location. I have the engineers designing the septic on "hold" before proceeding because I'm trying to decide if the front driveway should be move to the right more, or if it should curve differently.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 2:42PM
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dBrad - the problem is that when you are driving up the driveway you are looking straight into our kitchen windows, which then have a straight view right through our house. Conversely, if you are in the kitchen you will be looking straight down the driveway instead of at all of our beutiful lanscaping (or what will really just be a field of dirt for the first year)!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 2:44PM
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Then move the lower entrance to the left (toward the corner) 15' or so, making the whole driveway a bit more circular. So instead of climbing up that grade straight toward the kitchen, you'll be traversing the grade toward the master suite initially, and then curving around past the kitchen to the garage area. It seems like that slight grade will somewhat hide the driveway from the kitchen perspective anyway.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 4:15PM
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OK, that aspect sounds good. :)

But you mention a vineyard, and lots of landscaping. Will there be a barn or outbuilding for tractors or other farm type equipment that you'll need to maintain the property? Will you have a service drive in addition to the home's more decorative drive? If not, you need to be sure that a LARGE dump truck or trailer can access the property and that the turning radius isn't too tight for all of that. That means not turning it into an almost circle but instead moving the entry to the right more so that there is less of a radius to deal with.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 4:50PM
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There may be an extra garage/storage building at some point near the back of the lot, we have no idea really what exactly that will entail at the moment, and it is years down the road. There is an existing entrance there as well.

Not sure why we would need a dump truck to fit once the house is built, but we do need to keep it so that a firebrick can easily make the turn.

I have thought about moving the front entrance to the right, but I am not certain about how far to move it. Also the side entrance seems awkward and I am wondering if it should be moved slightly forward.

I am awful at drawing these things, any chance someone wants to take a shot at it?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 5:12PM
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I see what you're saying about looking out the kitchen windows and not wanting to see the driveway. I'm posting an overhead view of my friend's house; long driveway with a circular turn-around near the house. The turnaround can fit two cars side by side, narrowly. (The building with the brownish roof in the lower left is a large basketball court/gym; on Sat. mornings a bunch of guys meet there to play, so he wanted some extra parking. The house connects to the gym through the basement; it's an awesome set up!) For size perspective I included the Google maps scale and the building between the gym and house is a 3 car (maybe 4?) garage.

You could consider something similar; kind of a P shape, with plantings in the opening of the circle to soften the look of all that hard scaping. That way people could park not too far from the front door, but you wouldn't be looking straight down the driveway from your kitchen. I don't know what this would mean for firetruck access; that's a good question to consider and ask your local fire chief perhaps.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 6:47PM
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I know nothing about driveways, but I do like this last suggestion's function... If you have many guests, I like that your guests can park out front, in view of your windows, and also out of the way of your main thru driveway... I just like the flow, I guess.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 1:24AM
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Well, I have 5 acres, and we buy our mulch by the dump truck load because that's the most economical way of purchasing it. We also have a trailer that can haul tree and shrub purchases on, or haul the real sized tractor or it's attachments to the repair person. And most of our lot is in grass! With yours being more agricultural in nature with a vineyard, I would certainly think that your needs for this type of grounds maintenance equipment and access (and storage) will be needed from the beginning, so your drive should be designed with that access in mind. And I'd bet the barn will come sooner rather than later as well. If it were built first, it could serve as storage for things during construction. That's the order that most around here choose to build. Barn first, so that the property can be maintained while the home is being built.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 7:27AM
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We have never lived on a large lot before, and in our area barns are not very common, as it isn't really a rurual area so your prespective is helpful.

We have a three car garage where the third is a single car and it will be used for much of that type of storage. At the moment our focus is getting the house up, and then we can see what else we need. At this point adding another structure isn't an option from a cost or permitting perspective as another structure would cause us to need a design review, and a full grading permit, which would add a combined $30-40k (at least) and 3 months to our project. In an odd twist, if we add another structure at a later date then we avoid both processes. Go figure.

Our initial plan is for 3/4 of an acre of grapes in the front, a pool and a lot of lawn in the back, some vegtables gardens and... well, we are not sure what else. We plan on living in it for a bit and then figuring it all out!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 12:17PM
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