Tag Archives: property development

Small Yards, Big Building Design

As new homes have shrunk in size, so have the lots the homes are constructed on. With this the space available for detached accessory buildings (primarily garages and workshops) has shrunk with them.  When you have a 40-foot wide lot, there’s only so much room for another building. But this doesn’t mean homeowners are willing to settle for plain vanilla building design, or worse yet, no building at all. A tremendous amount of style and function can be packed into a small space.

People also are buying old houses, which were built on small lots. A well planned backyard pole building can provide an escape from the confines of small rooms and smaller spaces. The demand for unique building design is on the rise.

My oldest son lives in Maryville (a suburb of Knoxville, TN). He and his wife purchased a home of about 1200 square feet with an unfinished basement. The “daylight basement” included a single car garage door, with the idea for a vehicle to be parked downstairs…underneath the main floor.

With a growing family, finishing the basement to make space for more bedrooms and a family room meant the loss of this space, as well as the downstairs workshop.

While a 24’ x 30’ footprint would avoid his backyard drain field and fit within the property line setbacks, just a plain box would not have satisfied the needs of his mother.  The vast amount of options and flexibility with pole building design came to the rescue!

A 20’ x 24’ second floor “mother-in-law” apartment was added above the rear 2/3 of the garage. With the peak of the roofs running at 90 degree angles to each other, it ended up being aesthetically pleasing in a residential neighborhood. Inside the apartment, scissor trusses created a vaulted ceiling, with the added height making the room feel more spacious. Cantilevered decks (4’ in front and 6’ in the rear) allow for outdoor living, especially with the sliding glass patio door to the large rear deck.

Now our son has a place to park two vehicles inside, along with his own shop area. His wife loves the large storage shelves lining the downstairs garage/shop for those seasonal items and Christmas decorations. The mini apartment upstairs hosts visiting guests in a private space all of their own.  Not to mention “Mama” is happy with the large air conditioned space with a deck to relax on when she comes to visit.  And footprint wise, it didn’t take up anymore space than a two car garage, but allowed for a lot of expansion to their daily living.

Recent research into post frame fire walls, allow pole buildings to be built close to, or right up to property lines. This allows for buildings to be placed in spaces they would not have fit into in the past.

A wood stove or fireplace can make a man cave, or hobby space a delightful area, and are easily added.  Heating and A/C are affordable for small spaces, for maximum climate control.

Looking for the ideal building design to add to the livability of your home? Pole buildings do not have to be “plain Jane” and the variables for design are virtually limitless.

Hiring a Necessary Evil: Wetlands Part III

If you are knee deep in water with wetlands issues, there is one more avenue to explore before you give up your building plans, or move to dryer land.  My blogs of the past two days explore the background of wetlands, which might be good to review before reading my final thoughts on wetlands, and how to deal with them.

Real property developments at or adjacent to desirable water acreage often involve impacts to wetlands. The resulting legal issues are among the most complex and confusing in environmental law. Recently, a federal judge recused himself from a Clean Water Act case on the grounds he was “perplexed” by the way the law has developed as to what constitutes navigable water. Depending on the hydrological character of the wetland, proposed impacts may require interface with regulators at all levels of government — federal, state and local.

Environmental attorneys may have substantial experience in all of these arenas and have demonstrated the ability to navigate the ever-changing legal landscape governing permitting of projects impacting wetlands. Properly selected, these attorneys partner with clients through every step of the process, beginning with an analysis of whether impacts to wetlands can be minimized or avoided altogether, saving time and money.

When impacts are unavoidable, the attorneys can manage every step of the permitting process, including negotiation with the appropriate government officials. Most are experienced with various mitigation strategies, including the purchase of wetlands credits at a wetlands bank or the creation of off-site wetlands when necessary. Expertise in these matters allows clients to avoid costly surprises and delays after a project is underway.

When one of the most popular books in the wetlands field is entitled, “Lawyers, Swamps, and Money” by Royal C. Gardiner, (available through booksellers such as Amazon.com).  This book gives one an idea of how the global scope of wetlands policy actually works.

Planning upon purchasing property to develop? My recommendation would be to avoid property which could potentially be designated as wetlands. Do your homework thoroughly prior to purchasing, because once you have your money invested, you don’t want it to suck you down a never ending drain.