Designing for a Narrow Lot
Photos: Robin Stubbert
Building on a narrow lot doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on space or style.
Buildable land is at a premium. As costs increase in desirable locations, such as golf resorts, lakes and mountain towns, single-family home density increases, causing lot widths to decrease. Even rural areas can be prone to thinner, tapered lots due to the topography of the location.
While a narrow lot can save on land costs, it can be challenging to situate a home’s footprint on it. Fortunately, log and timber home designers have proven strategies to make the most of slender sites.
With many clients seeking front-loading, three-car garages, the challenge is to design a home that minimizes the garage on the front facade, Matt says. To achieve that, he suggests offsetting bays or recessing a smaller garage next to a double garage for storing recreational vehicles like snowmobiles or motorcycles.
The other challenge is to make the front doorway pop by adding a covered entry with a timber frame truss overhead. “That way it’s absolutely clear where visitors should enter,” explains Matt.
Ensure Adequate Natural Light
Another option is to add a monitor to the roof system with clerestory windows. Popular in 19th century railroad cars and traditional sugar houses (a building used to boil sap into maple syrup), it’s a raised structure running along the ridge of a double-pitched roof that runs parallel with the main roof system. It can provide abundant daylight without glare, as well as vent hot air in summer. “Skylights are an option, too, though we don’t see a lot of those anymore,” Matt admits.
Think Through Interior Layout
Matt agrees: “Even though many of today’s buyers want a master suite on the main level, sometimes you have to push that space to the second floor,” he says.
Know Your Dimensions
“We’ve had plenty of people fall in love with a floor plan, only to find it won’t fit on their lot,” Remington acknowledges, “but there are solutions. We had a client in Colorado who had to cut an entire wing off the plan and reposition the rooms in the basement. They loved the plan so much that they weren’t willing to compromise, so we got resourceful to meet their needs.”
The key to capitalizing on your property’s dimensions? Plan to incorporate tried-and-true design tricks for homes in tight places.
Elements That Have a Major Impact on Costs
“One kitchen cost $19,000, the other, $90,000,” Don recalls. “Custom cabinetry, high-end appliances and granite countertops can take a large bite out of your budget.”
It’s fairly common knowledge that the kitchen is the most expensive space in a new home, followed by baths. But other areas can dramatically affect costs as well. A steep and complicated roof system, with multiple hips and valleys, is architecturally pleasing and can add curb appeal, but it’s also pricey. A full masonry fireplace can top $100k in costs, which is why they’re so rarely specified.
“The variable costs you can control,” Laura continues. “That’s the size and design of the home and its architectural complexity. Plus, there are material choices that are pretty unique to the log and timber world, such as what species a client selects. If it’s a timber frame, do they want simple king post trusses in the great room or do they want an arched timber frame barrel design? Those are two very different costs. All of these choices are made in the design stage. I tend to recommend they spend on the high-touch, use-everyday features of their new home.”
Remington Brown, StoneMill Log & Timber Homes’ design manager agrees: “All of the interior finishes have an enormous impact. Flooring, especially, is a big one. That beautiful hand-scraped, reclaimed hardwood may be pretty, but it also costs $15 per square foot. An engineered-wood product, in contrast, can cost as little as $4 per square foot. Stretch that out over a couple thousand square feet and you can see the impact.”
Remington also warns clients that site improvement costs can easily go over budget, thanks to the unknowns during excavation, landscaping or well drilling, so he advises a 10 percent safety net. “That portion should always have a contingency built-in for when — not if — you run into issues during site prep.”
Published at Thu, 06 May 2021 11:35:00 +0000