The Popularity of Zero-Lot Homes
Homes with limited yards and an emphasis on living space have mushroomed across the country.
E-mail This Page to Your Friendsx
A link to %this page% was e-mailed
Zero-lot line homes, with their limited yards and increased focus on living space, are zeroing in on a community near you, if they're not there already.
With the supply of single-family urban lots dwindling across the country, and the growing number of Baby Boom empty-nesters seeking to simplify their lives, the traditional big yard is becoming a thing of the past for many Americans. Some liken the new zero-lot liners to the old row houses in central cities — minus the stoops and stickball games.
Also marketed as garden homes, patio homes and narrow-lot homes, their heights range from one to three stories and their designs and demographics vary greatly from neighborhood to neighborhood. Some come with large patios for entertaining; others are equipped with neighbor-friendly front porches that almost touch the street.
Most zero-lot line homes are built directly on the edge of a lot's outer boundary (hence the name) and are usually only about 10 feet apart and share a common fence with a neighbor. They generally have either small front yards or small back yards and just a thin strip of turf for side yards. Others are attached, separated only by a townhome-like "party wall" used jointly by a neighbor.
The choice of floor plans seems to be growing almost daily, says Walt Raczkowski, owner of Coolhouseplans.com, a home-design Web service. There are now about 800 designs of narrow homes of less than 30 feet in width on the site, which has a total of 13,000 plans.
"The narrow-lot designs are selling better and better," he said. "They are especially popular around coastal communities where land is at a premium."
Meanwhile, new-home lots are shrinking across the country, even as floor areas increase slightly, according to U.S. Census data.
"In some parts of California, they are building 5,000-square-foot homes on 5,000-square-foot lots," said Gopal Ahluwalia, vice president of research for the National Association of Home Builders. "The consumer is willing to accept smaller lot size ... but not smaller homes. Many homeowners will give up a large lot if it saves them an hour of commuting time."
In addition to the Baby Boomers who are swapping expansive old manses for something smaller, first-time home buyers also are helping spur the zero effect, builders say. These include single parents or young professionals who at day's end barely have time to navigate a drive-through fast-food lane, let alone maintain a yard.
Is a zero-lot line or narrow-lot line home right for you? Before "going narrow," here are a few things to consider:
Privacy and design: Solitude seekers should probably opt more for designs with more outdoor living space in the rear. Gregarious types will probably favor a big front porch. Note that views from the side will generally be of either a tall fence or the wall of your neighbor's zero-lot line home — possibly even a view into your neighbor's windows. Either buy a home with staggered windows or privacy fences, or consider plantation shutters or thick drapes.
Safety: The closer the neighbors, the more eyes on your property, which can be good or bad. Consider that closer spacing between homes increases the risk of fires spreading.
Small children and pets: The smaller yards don't provide ample space for children or active dogs to romp. Hence, most kids will take to the streets to play with neighbors. A location in a low-traffic area can alleviate some of those concerns.
From Bankrate.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.
Bring Asian style into your home decorating with our favorite picks for Asian-influenced furniture and accessories.
After professional stager Sabrina Soto helps stage this single-family home, the house receives an offer eight days later. See...(6 photos)