What’s on the Architect’s Desk? 13 December 2016

At the moment, I have two addition projects on my desk that are in the design phase.  Both projects are just beginning, so I have sketches in progress on my drafting board.  One thing that both projects share in common is that we are working carefully with challenging setbacks.  Setbacks are zoning restrictions which prevent construction within a certain distance of a property line (or other feature, such as a body of water).

The owners of the first project first thought of adding a 2-car detached garage behind their home several years ago.  Since that time, the zoning rules for their property were changed and the setbacks were doubled for secondary structures, such as a detached garage.  The garage would have been a tight squeeze with the previous setbacks and simply does not fit with the new setbacks.  So, we are exploring other options to provide parking and storage solutions, including smaller single car garage layouts and carport concepts.

The owners of the second project would love to have a swimming pool behind their house.  Their property abuts tidal marshland and there is a significant conservation easement along the marsh upon which no construction may intrude.  (Typically, an easement is similar to a setback and is functionally identical for our purposes; you cannot build in this area.)  The owners’ home and detached garage were built within a few feet of this easement at several points (you can imagine the marsh edge is not a straight line).  So, we are exploring several concepts.  One concept places a smaller pool between their home and garage with a new breezeway connecting the two structures which will serve to provide some privacy to the pool area.  Another concept that we are exploring involves the garage closer to the street, which will provide the space needed for a larger pool behind.

Zoning setbacks are part of nearly every project that we encounter.  It is critical to fully investigate these and other zoning regulations at the very beginning of the project to ensure that the intended scope of work is viable.

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