Zoning & Code...Parents of Invention

small, narrow building lot site plan

What would you build...

in just 636 square feet?

The catalysts of laws and codes

Zoning laws and building codes are not in and of themselves bad things. In fact they often solve or prevent serious problems. That said though they're not always the products of good planning either. To be sure their sometimes arbitrary limitations and corporate-lobbied demands can be absurdly frustrating at times. In many cases however they can be catalysts for fresh perspectives that encourage creative efforts to solve unusual issues. So with that, as I finish one building project, I'm starting to sketch some ideas for another one I'd like to build on an modest lot with some unusual restrictions we purchased earlier this year. 


Yes, it's a very small lot!

The lot is located in Point Roberts, Washington near Vancouver, BC. and was reserved on the local historical plat as a county road easement to - it was once hoped - connect two cool beach communities; namely the South Beach and Crystal Water Beach neighborhoods. That vision never came to light so the easement was lifted and the parcel finally recorded as a legal lot of record in 2016. At a wee 4,000 square feet (40' x 100') - it's Lilliputian to be sure. But the addition of mandatory septic and road setbacks creates a constrained, rather challenging building envelope (see image above)


But why even bother with a lot that size?

That was my first question, and my second and third as well. Before deciding to purchase the lot from a friend in town - who to his credit did a good job preparing the site for construction by grading the land and installing a new septic system, even planting some tasty kale - I could not visualize what sort of design, if any in fact, might work. In the end I decided to follow my instincts and accept the challenge.

The lot is open to the sky and only a couple blocks from the beach. The additional promise of all day sunshine and finally sold us on the land. My wife and I have built in South Beach before so we consider the area home, more than anywhere else we've lived together at any rate.


Timeline for construction

So...this is just the beginning. This week I'm submitting paperwork for a required Natural Resource Assessment. This will be a slow study that will take about 8 weeks but once completed I'll be able submit a building plan for permitting. I've basically got two months to design. I hope to break ground before the end of summer to set a foundation before winter's arrival so I can start framing in good weather spring 2018. I'll be sharing my journey through the building process in more detail this build as well as my design ideas.