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Old 03-18-2008, 03:43 PM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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How tall is a typical new single family house?

Particularly in California.

I'm trying to draft a height restriction that says a developer can put a one-story single family house on a lot, but it can't be taller than ____ feet. In other words, don't build a big hollow skyscraper and try to say it's only one story tall.

Last edited by Bearflag70; 03-18-2008 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 03-18-2008, 04:24 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Think of it this way:

2 feet for the subfloor, 10 foot ceilings (max), 1 foot ceiling rafters/attic flor, then calculate the slope of the roof-- maybe 6 in 12 would be typical for CA (meaning 6 foot rise for every 12 foot run). Add a few inches for material, and you should have a good idea of where to start.
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Old 03-18-2008, 04:26 PM
dolphinboy dolphinboy is offline
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I have designed two separate homes in two different urban areas in California and the max height was always 30 feet. Of course you could easily design a two story house with a peaked roof that is less than 30 feet high from finished grade.
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Old 03-18-2008, 05:06 PM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearflag70
Particularly in California.

I'm trying to draft a height restriction that says a developer can put a one-story single family house on a lot, but it can't be taller than ____ feet. In other words, don't build a big hollow skyscraper and try to say it's only one story tall.
Due to an interesting historical quirk -- the copying of bulk requirements from a zoning code originally written in the 1920s for Euclid, Ohio by others drafting early zoning codes -- the vast majority of zoning codes in the US establish a maximum height of 35 feet for single family residences. Now comes the hard part: defining maximum height. I've seen many definitions, usually falling into one of the following:

* Distance between the ground surface at the facade, and the highest point of the roof.
* Distance between the ground surface at the facade, and the average of the highest and lowest points on the roof.
* Distance between the average of the highest and lowest ground elevation of the house, and the highest point of the roof.
* Distance between the average of the highest and lowest ground elevation of the house, and and the average of the highest and lowest point on the roof.
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Old 03-18-2008, 10:26 PM
cornflakes cornflakes is offline
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  • At a minimum, a slab on grade foundation should be eight inches above grade. Some people will want floor joists over a crawlspace. Your development department will know the code, but some localities require a minimum crawlspace height of thirty inches (Admittedly, these are in flood prone areas.) Not knowing how things are done around Sacramento, I'd allow four feet for the walls and foundation.
  • I'd give about ten feet for the walls. People like high ceilings.
  • A 12 in 12 pitch over a thirty foot wide house would rise about fifteen feet into the air.
I'd go with a thirty foot height restriction and another restriction on second stories.

That said, will you allow finished attics? IMHO, they wouldn't detract from the appearance of the community. If you don't, how will you keep people from sneaking them in?
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Old 03-19-2008, 11:23 AM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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I don't want to get too technical. I just want to be sure that the one-story house on one of the lots will not be grossly out of whack with other typical single story homes. So, if I say "30 feet from grade" they may be able to fudge that upward a bit with some fuzzy math, but they can only fudge so far and stay within reason. That's close enough.

Maybe I should say something like 30 feet from grade to the highest point of the structure. (?)

Last edited by Bearflag70; 03-19-2008 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 03-19-2008, 11:37 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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My area has a 30' height limit and there are many, many 2-story homes. In fact, most of those homes are under 30'. If your desire is to limit 2-story homes, you need to go with something more like 20'.
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Old 03-19-2008, 12:23 PM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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Here's some background: The developer is going to put in a bunch of homes. I represent one adjacent landowner. She has some leverage and wants to use it to demand the one house that will be next door to her is only one story (aka "not too tall"). By her own preference, she is doing the negotiating, not me. I just wanted to give her a tip that she should demand one story with a height restriction.
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Old 03-19-2008, 12:32 PM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearflag70
Here's some background: The developer is going to put in a bunch of homes. I represent one adjacent landowner. She has some leverage and wants to use it to demand the one house that will be next door to her is only one story (aka "not too tall"). By her own preference, she is doing the negotiating, not me. I just wanted to give her a tip that she should demand one story with a height restriction.
Further, I expect she will demand a certain max height of X feet. If her demanded restriction of X feet is too low, the developer will say something like, "Our one-story homes in this development are planned for Y feet tall." At that point, she will probably agree to a restriction of Y feet.

My goal here is to just get a number that's in the ballpark.

Last edited by Bearflag70; 03-19-2008 at 12:35 PM.
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Old 03-19-2008, 02:00 PM
chappachula chappachula is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearflag70
demand the one house that will be next door to her is only one story (aka "not too tall").
Since you are dealing with only one specific lot, you could try to specify the absolute height of the building(i.e. "x feet above sea level"), not the relative height (i.e. "30 feet above the ground").
The engineering plans for the roads and housing lots show the designed elevations. Each lot will be a little different, based on the slopes of the road in front of the lot.

If the developer's plans are near the final stages, there will be a definite elevation specified for the floor of each house. If your client knows her own lot is designed to be , say, 634.6 feet above sea level, and her house will be 30 feet tall, she can ask that the neighbor's house be limited to a roof height of , say, 670 feet above sea level.

Another issue: If she wants to avoid feeling hemmed in by the neighbor's house, think about the setback lines( the empty space between the property line and the house). This is usually controlled by local laws, but it may be possible to ask for a wider setback on the side bordering her house

Last edited by chappachula; 03-19-2008 at 02:05 PM.
  #11  
Old 03-19-2008, 02:26 PM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chappachula
Since you are dealing with only one specific lot, you could try to specify the absolute height of the building(i.e. "x feet above sea level"), not the relative height (i.e. "30 feet above the ground").
The engineering plans for the roads and housing lots show the designed elevations. Each lot will be a little different, based on the slopes of the road in front of the lot.

If the developer's plans are near the final stages, there will be a definite elevation specified for the floor of each house. If your client knows her own lot is designed to be , say, 634.6 feet above sea level, and her house will be 30 feet tall, she can ask that the neighbor's house be limited to a roof height of , say, 670 feet above sea level.

Another issue: If she wants to avoid feeling hemmed in by the neighbor's house, think about the setback lines( the empty space between the property line and the house). This is usually controlled by local laws, but it may be possible to ask for a wider setback on the side bordering her house
Good info, thanks. I did advise her to negotiate a setback.
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Old 03-19-2008, 02:32 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearflag70
Good info, thanks. I did advise her to negotiate a setback.
Good luck with that. I bet it's ~5', and you're not going to get that changed. What you could try to do is allow the height to get taller as the setback is increased. That might be an acceptable compromise, but these days in CA it seems the lots are really, really small, and there isn't much room to fool around with setbacks. You might be better off asking for privacy landscaping and having some say about the window placements.
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Old 03-19-2008, 03:24 PM
Quercus Quercus is offline
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Of course, I imagine there's a pretty good chance this is going to be a moot point. I don't know for sure about CA, but there's not a lot of new developments being built round here.
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Old 03-19-2008, 04:50 PM
Can Handle the Truth Can Handle the Truth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearflag70
Here's some background: The developer is going to put in a bunch of homes. I represent one adjacent landowner. She has some leverage and wants to use it to demand the one house that will be next door to her is only one story (aka "not too tall"). By her own preference, she is doing the negotiating, not me. I just wanted to give her a tip that she should demand one story with a height restriction.
Does the developer have brochures of the homes that will be built? Could your client simply pick out which models would be acceptable?
  #15  
Old 03-19-2008, 05:52 PM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
Good luck with that. I bet it's ~5', and you're not going to get that changed. What you could try to do is allow the height to get taller as the setback is increased. That might be an acceptable compromise, but these days in CA it seems the lots are really, really small, and there isn't much room to fool around with setbacks. You might be better off asking for privacy landscaping and having some say about the window placements.
There will be an easement gap between her lot and the next lot over with the new house on it. The "setback" will essentially define the width of the easement gap between the two developed lots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Can Handle the Truth
Does the developer have brochures of the homes that will be built? Could your client simply pick out which models would be acceptable?
I don't know, as she doesn't want to pay me to be in the thick of it myself.
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