Type of house to build

Old 01-12-05, 10:23 AM
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Type of house to build

This one comes from my brother in law. His parents are retired and they travel by RV most of the year they want to sell their home but still want a place to call home when in town. He is thinking of buying a piece of land and building a duplex outside of a neighborhood that has restrictions. He wants to know if he can do this or would zoning prevent him from doing so? If in the future he wanted to sell he said it would be both sides entirely not split it and try to sell separately. He wants to build on a 52,000 sq foot lot as one home. I have to admit I think his reasoning is smart I wouldn't want to live with my parents in the same house either it keeps the peace. Will he have problems getting a building permit to build a duplex?
Old 01-17-05, 06:21 PM
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There are neighborhood building covenants and there is zoning. You can build outside a neighoods boundries to avoid their covenants or restrictions but your zoning department will most likely be involved in anything that gets built anywhere (My tiny little town even requires a zoning permit for major interior remodeling that does not change a buildings use or size). What you can build will depend on what is permitted in that area. Even if the house is built as a single family and later converted to a duplex the zoning and inspections departments will be involved in the conversion.

Zoning aside, a duplex may be more difficult to sell in the future. Many people want to buy a home, while few want a duplex.
Old 02-25-05, 06:43 PM
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All he can do is go to the county or city zoning office and see if the lot is zoned for it. If not appeal to the zonning board.
Old 02-25-05, 07:35 PM
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Dear noroomsforme,

Mny jurisdictions do not allow "duplex's" in residential zoned neighborhoods. One way around this issue,if it is the same there,is to find out requirements for "Guest Houses" or "Granny Units". They are not looked at the same as a true duplex and usually have square footage limitations and usage requirements. For instance here in Santa Rosa the "Guest Unit" can be no larger than 640 s.f. and have no kitchen as it is for a guest to use not as a seperate residence but rather an extension of your residence. Often the kitchen's are "bootlegged" in later. The Granny unit requirements are different. They can have kitchens and have a maximum square footage of 700 s.f. Then in the same area but in the county (Sonoma) the requirements change all together. The guest units can be a max. of 640 s.f. but the granny units can be 840 s.f.

The additional requirements are off street parking requirements. The distance from the main house for the units can be no further than 100' from the main house. All these are local requirements but it goes back to "whats in a name". It gives you other avenues to pursue if local zoning and planning say no to duplex's.

The other thing to check is if the granny unit or guest unit can be attached as well. I have a couple of plans I have drawn that are for narrow city lots but have a granny unit below with the garages, and a three bedroom 2 bath home above.

You have to be willing to do your homework and ask the right questions.

I hope this helps.

Brian Garrison
General Contractor/Professional Building Designer

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