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June 14, 2021

Getting The Most Out of Your Lot Width

Last week, a builder client reached out about an opportunity. He had a handful of 60’ lots become available – which calls for a 50’ wide building envelope. The quickest and easiest way to go about this would simply be to add a third car to his existing 40’ plans. But it is not the best way to go about this in more ways than one.

One major advantage of the 50’ width is the ability to do a three-car garage, but that is only part of the story. Bolting a 3 car on a 40’ chaise leaves a “lot” of money on the table. Instead, you should use the entire width for your house. Here’s why:

• The plan “lives” wider.
• Better opportunity for bigger ranch plans
• Better opportunity for master down plan.
• More opportunity to capture any view amenity.
• More cost effective.

The Plan Lives Wider

One of the struggles we have as designers is making plans “live” as big as possible. In a 40’ wide house, the maximum number of rooms you can fit across the back is three –café, family room, and master. When working with 50’, you can now get four rooms across. Even with a ranch or master down plan, this means you can implement the coveted “big room” (kitchen, café, & family room) that lives across the back.


Big Ranch Plan

The fifty-foot chassis creates a better opportunity for bigger ranch plans. These are always popular in Florida and Texas. In those states, the best seller is often the biggest ranch.

Master Down

Right behind the big ranch plan is the opportunity for a master down plan – popular throughout many markets and among many buyer profiles. Master down plans are often compromised in narrow footprints because there just isn’t enough space for everything that needs to live on the first floor.

Capture Views

Simply put, the wider the plan, the more windows to the back. Capturing views is always important, even if the view is the backyard. If the lot backs to a lake or wooded natural area, the lot premiums might just offset the architect’s fee to develop the plan.

More Cost Effective

An integrated three car garage is more cost-effective than a tacked-on garage, which adds more exterior wall. This is significant in any market, but at a time when construction costs are skyrocketing, it can be the difference between selling a house or pricing it out of the market.

I know all of this sounds a bit self-serving since we are in the business of providing plans. If you had only a handful of wider lots, perhaps the bolt on garage could be an answer. But allow me to make my pitch: Creating a new 50’ line of houses is creating an asset. Maybe you won’t build a lot of wider plans initially, but as wider lots become available, you are now in position to respond.

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This post was written by Housing Design Matters