Building Homes to Match the Lot

Texas native vegetation

I’ve been noticing a lot of homes lately that were not built to take full advantage of the lot upon which they were built. This hurts the resale value. Usually these are homes in tract subdivisions. One of the most egregious examples is a home I previewed recently located on a cul-de-sac lot adjacent to dedicated greenbelt space. To the left of the home, and straight out the cul-de-sac as you drive into the street, is natural ranchland dotted with beautiful mature oak trees, native vegetation and a wet weather creek. This is dedicated space that will never be developed. It’s pure Texas Hill Country scenery of the kind one sees in pictures and that you imagine admiring from a back porch rocking chair or swing. It sure beats the heck out of looking at a neighbor’s house. But whomever built the house sure did blow it.

Much to my amazement, the floorplan of this home offers no acknowledgment or orientation toward this natural setting – none at all. Had I built on this lot, I would have chosen a floorplan that allowed the living room and/or kitchen windows to face out onto the open space, and I would have added a large covered patio from which the native Texas landscape could be enjoyed. This home was built without even a covered patio in back, and the patio itself is a tiny 5×8 foot concrete slab. Upstairs, the master bedroom is on the other side of the house from the open space and offers no view.

If nothing else, the same floorplan could have been flipped to the reverse side, had a few windows moved or added to the right places, and the breakfast area and kitchen would have had a view and the master bedroom would have looked out over the native Texas scenery.

So why in the world would someone built a house on this lot that doesn’t take advantage of this wonderful and peaceful view? I think when purchasing new homes, people choose a floorplan first, then pick the lot on which to place the home (or vice-versa), but they don’t always stop and ask themselves whether that home is a good match for that specific lot. I’ve also seen builder spec homes built with the same lack of thinking as to which floorplan might best take advantage of natural surroundings and/or orientation of the lot.

On the flip side, there can also be negative characteristics of a lot that better thinking can mitigate. For example, would you build a home at the ‘T’ end of a street with the master bedroom windows in the front of the house? No, because the headlights from cars at night will shine into your bedroom windows. If you don’t think of things like this ahead of time, you will unfortunately discover it the first night after you move in.

If you’re getting ready to build or buy a new home, pay attention to how well the home and the lot you’ve chosen compliment each other. Stay away from homes that grossly ignore this relationship. Pay attention to how the streets are aligned and whether there might be potential light intrusion into your home from night time road traffic. Notice the compass orientation of the home and whether natural sunlight will compliment or torment your living space.

When previewing homes for buyer prospects, I scratch a lot of candidate properties off of the list because of these sorts of issues. Many of these homes will look ideal on paper and in internet photos, but they don’t survive the first visit because it takes more than a good floorplan to make a good house. It has to be the right floorplan for that lot.

Posted by Steve
10 years ago

Steve is a Real Estate Blogger, Husband and Dad, UT Austin Grad, Runner, Real Estate Broker and owner of Crossland Team and Crossland Real Estate in Austin TX.

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