Site Planning

Does Lot Width Matter?

In every market, you need to focus on the lot size to make sure it is competitive for home sales.  But suppose you are focused on a 4,000 square foot lot – should the dimensions be 40 x 100 or 50 x 80?  Development costs, architecture, and lifestyle can all be factors in how you approach these dimensions.

First, from a development cost perspective, narrower lots tend to be more efficient in terms of the utilities and street costs.  If you have a run of 20 lots at 50 feet wide each, you have 1,000 lineal feet of street and utilities.  If the lots are 40 feet wide, these streets and utilities would be 800 lineal feet.  As a side note, site planning that can double load streets (homes on both sides) not only takes advantage of more density but also is more efficient use of these streets and utilities.

From an architectural perspective, wider lots generally allow for better architecture on the front elevation and a better street scene.  Let’s assume that we have five-foot side yard setbacks.  On a 40-foot wide lot, the building footprint is now 30 feet wide.  Two-car garages will take up 20 feet, which means you have an additional 10 feet to create some architecture on the front elevation.  If you have a 50-foot wide lot, then the building footprint can now be 40 feet wide and give the architect an additional 20 feet to create more design elements.  Overall, the garage is not so dominant on the wider homes and provides for a more interesting street scene.

Another factor is the rear yard depth as well as sound and privacy factors with homes behind the lot (“back to back” conditions).  If you have a wider lot, the lot depth is shallower.  Depending on the home size, these wider lots might yield a shallower rear yard and back-to-back homes are closer.  With 25-foot rear yards, there would be 50 feet between homes, while only 30 feet if yard depths are 15 feet.  Just more to consider in your site and product plans.

Please share with us below any of your comments and questions.

John Kaye has over 30 years experience within the land development and homebuilding industries, having held senior management positions with The Irvine Company, Koll Real Estate Group, and Brookfield Homes. As a developer, John has overseen the land acquisition, entitlements, and development of master planned communities, residential tracts, urban infill sites, and land assemblages. His experience and skill sets include land acquisition, land brokerage, project management, market analysis, finance, and strategic planning.

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