Picking a lot

by Jenny Wed, June 20 2012 11:12

Alright, we’ve decided what neighborhood to live in. Now, where in that neighborhood are we going to build? We were incredibly lucky and got into our neighborhood just as the phase opened up, so we could look at all the options and not point to a lot and say “I wish we could get that one”.

A lot of factors went into picking out lot. I’ve lived in a new house on average every three years of my life, so I’ve seen a lot of what’s considered for livability, property value, and ease of resale. While we are hoping to keep this place for the longer term (still not sure how long that will be!), we wanted the best lot we could find. Here are some of the big things we looked at.

Street and alley traffic: Will you be on a main street or can you let kids play in the front yard and not worry (excessively) about the traffic flying past them? Will you have to deal with a lot of traffic noise and people watching you cut your grass every Sunday? How easy will it be to back out of the garage? The less traffic immediately around your home the better is always the case, but it’s also nice to be close to the bus stop (and future LRT in our case).
Lot size: I’ll admit, this is something we compromised on the moment we decided to build instead of buy. We knew we’d be getting a postage stamp lot no matter what, and it really didn’t play into our decision.

Parking: Both for your own vehicles and guests, what parking is available? If you won’t have people over often you probably don’t care if you have much street parking, but we like to entertain, so being close to a corner lot or other spot where the residents aren’t going to take over every inch of the street was important to us.
Alley accessibility: Do you have to drive half a block down the alley to get to your garage or is it just a couple hundred feet? Our winters can be pretty nasty, so having the garage to keep frost off the vehicle is awesome, but driving through massive snow banks to get there isn’t. We looked for a spot that would hopefully get enough traffic to pack down the snow but not so much that we’d have a ton of traffic behind us during the morning rush to get off to work.

Corner lot: Corner lots have really improved in newer developments – they actually have a back yard now! Also, the side gives a lot of extra parking. And in the world of 6 to 8 feet between eaves having that third wall exposed for windows is a nice bonus. But that comes with the added expense of required “architectural details” on the sides of the home, and a lot more sidewalk to shovel! In older neighborhoods corner lots are also a harder sell. I’m not sure how that has translated to new developments, but I’d rather not take the risk, so they were quickly struck from our list of options.

Amenities: Pathways, parks, bus stops, schools, and other neighborhood bonuses are always nice to be close to, but consider what kind of traffic they will generate by your home. If you are on a cul-de-sac by a school, will your street be the turning-around point for parents dropping their kids off? Is that lovely view of a park going to be obscured by soccer-mom vans every night during the summer soccer season? Will that pathway next to your house eliminate privacy in your back yard and create an unexpected theft risk for anything you leave sitting out?

Lot direction: Do you want a north, south, east or west facing home? I’ve heard pro’s and con’s for all directions. Consider what rooms you want to get sunlight into, how much the sun will heat the rooms for you in the summer and north winds affect you in the winter? Direction had very little impact on our decision.

View: What will you be staring at when you look out the windows, are hanging out in your back yard, or out front? With a detached garage we already have a pretty good idea what the view out back will be – garage – so it was just a question of what’s across the street from us.


In the end, we decided on a lot across from a park and three spots in from the alley entrance. The park has a lot of landscaping so it may be used by kids for a game of tag, but otherwise is just a pretty green space that provides a pretty view with lots of parking. We had considered a pie lot or a lot on a cul-de-sac a bit closer to the entrance to our street, but there are plans to put a school in right by us, so we figured that the cul-de-sac may become a turn-around point. Further down our street there are a bunch of duplexes with single attached garages which we purposely avoided being by. We’ll have (generally larger) homes with double attached garages beside the park, which should reduce the amount of people parking on the street, so, hopefully, the road doesn’t become a single lane in the winter. We ended up in a south-facing lot, so the living room and master bedroom gets lots of sun during the day. I’m really looking forward to curling up on the couch to read and write!