Locating the House on the Lot

Fisher Custom Homes northern Virginia BLOG


Locating the House on the Lot

Have you ever driven past a new home and thought I love the way that house looks? Next time, stop and think what is it about that house that appeals to you. No doubt the architecture, color, material selection all play a big part in the “curb appeal” of any custom home, but one almost equally important factor is how the house was located on the lot. This very important step in any new home construction project is often not given the attention it deserves.

While the Civil Engineer is the professional who will draw the site plan, the best house sitings are those that represent the combined effort of the custom home builder, the homeowner, and the engineer. It is for this reason, I request my engineer make a field visit to new home project we undertake prior to locating the house on the lot. It allows us an opportunity to look at the entire neighborhood, topography, adjacent lots, orientation of the sun to the lot, and any other factors significant to the individual lot. This cannot be accomplished by looking at a one-dimensional drawing, or even a visit to Google Earth.

A well sited house requires foresight, creativity, and experience. Our current custom home building project underway in Dunn Loring, Virginia is an excellent example of the significance of a well sited home. The client purchased a beautiful 1-acre lot to build their new custom home on that sloped from the front yard to the rear. The rear yard backs up to the WO & D trail, has some extraordinary mature trees, and wooden retaining wall in the rear of the lot that created an artificial separation between the main yard and the lower yard that was overgrown and obviously not used as part of the yard. The client envisioned the wall would be repaired, and the unsightly area cleaned up a bit.

After a long slow walk the lot with my project manager Troy Wallace, asked why keeping the retaining wall was a priority? Why not remove the wall, and re-grade the backyard so that it had a gentle slope from the rear of their beautiful new custom home, all the way to the rear property line, almost 200’ from the back of the house. Once the idea was presented, it quickly became obvious that the opportunity we had in removing he old house, clearing away some of the unhealthy and undesirable trees, hauling in dirt, and completely re-grading the yard would have a huge impact on the property. By doing this, with relatively little additional expense, the overall impact to the project would be tremendous. Now, not only will the clients have a gorgeous new custom home complete with walkout basement, elevated deck, and on grade patio at the basement level; but they will have a very desirable and usable rear yard to complement their new home.

If we had simply built the client’s new home with the design and finishes they chose, they would have been very happy. But, a separate set of experienced eyes, a creative vision, an open mind, the appreciation of what makes a new home truly exceptional, and the commitment to the process combined to take this project to the next level.

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