It’s no secret that many developers, architects, and home and multifamily builders are reducing lot size as one way hold down housing costs and maintain profitability.
The rise of zero-lot-line homes, odd-lot/infill development, and compressed parcel spacing and size is helping shape a new housing normal for many communities:
For many code professionals this trend line means unconventional lots and home configurations will become an increasingly common feature of residential development. In many parts of the country new terminology is taking root to describe odd lot variations and locations, including:
Affordable housing advocates, developers, architects, and builders now view the non-conforming parcels as new opportunity areas for residential construction. For example, Boston’s downtown is widely viewed as densely developed. In fact, downtown Boston has a robust supply of odd lot parcels that have been overlooked for commercial development. Today, many of those lots may be prime targets for opportunistic housing developers.
One of the leaders in this housing movement is Jonathan Tate. Tate is an architect and principal of New Orleans-based OJT, a design practice focused on infill housing development. Tate estimates there are more than 5,000 irregularly shaped empty lots in New Orleans. Where others see an unbuildable lot, Tate sees a new, affordable single-family home.
“There are a lot of land fragments embedded in these neighborhoods that you could probably mistake for somebody’s side yard,” Tate explains. “One of the first houses we did was on a lot 16-and-a-half feet wide. We ended up having three feet clear on either side, so it’s a 9-and-a-half foot wide home. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a great home. We recognize now if a lot is any less than 16 feet wide, we move on.”
Tate admits the dense building practices of New Orleans may offer some advantage at inspection time. Yet, the unusually tight lot lines do generate close scrutiny from code officials. Nonetheless, Tate has elected to avoid requests for waivers and variances. Rather, the rules are the rules. “What can we make within them?” Tate asks.
For urban infill construction, fire separation distance is a critical consideration. Section R302 of the 2018 International Residential Code – Fire-Resistant Construction – describes the requirements for fire-resistance within close proximity to adjacent property lines. Section R302.1 requires exterior walls within 5’-0” of a property line or adjacent structure to have a fire resistance rating of 1-hour, rated from the interior and exterior. Louisiana-Pacific has a load-bearing wall assembly, LPB/WPPS-60-01, that is commonly used in this application when a 1-hour fire resistance wall is required and is in compliance with Table 302.1.
ICC-ES Evaluation Report (ESR) 1365 describes a tested sheathing product that is compliant with the 2018, 2015, 2012, and 2009 International Building Code for surface-burning characteristics, durability, thermal barrier, component of fire-resistance-rated assemblies, and component of roof covering classified assemblies. As ESR-1365 states, “The product is a composite panel consisting of a layer of Pyrotite® – a noncombustible inert, inorganic fire-shield – factory-applied to either plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) complying, respectively, with US DOC PS1 or US COC PS2.” The Report evaluated LP® FlameBlock® Fire-Rated Sheathing.
Today’s growing emphasis on smaller lot sizes and compressed lot spacing casts an even brighter light on fire separation distance. More than ever, look for exterior wall sheathing products that meet ICC certification for flame spread and burn-through resistance.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of LP and do not necessarily reflect those of the International Code Council, or Hanley Wood.
There are only two ways to boost your bottom line: increase revenue and cut costs. In this blog, we’ll explore innovative ways for builders to cut costs in order to increase homebuilder profit margins – and we’ll examine revenue enhancement in a future post.Continue Reading
According to the latest American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, about 4 million people now work in residential construction (both single-family and multifamily) – down from the 5 million who were employed just before the Great Recession. Although the workforce has shrunk by 20 percent nationwide, some parts of the country are experiencing less pain than others. Similarly, light commercial construction has been reportedly back on the rise post-Recession, with IBISWorld reporting that the recovery started just before 2014 and continuing steadily through 2019 (source).
It’s frustrating when factors outside of your control cause you delays or unexpected expenses during a project. Those factors could be weather delays, insufficient staffing, breakdowns in cash flow and unreliable product availability. LP devotes significant resources each year to ensure that its product availability is second to none. Because even the most innovative building solution is useless to customers unless they know that it’s available when they really need it.
It’s a silly name, but a “butt joint” is an application technique where two pieces of material are “butted” up against each other. It is the simplest joint to make, and a butt joint can be either end to end or end to face. Depending on the width of the wall, butt joints will occur where two pieces of lap siding come together, creating a vertical seam. LP® SmartSide® lap siding products are available in 16’ lengths, and can help reduce the amount of seams where a butt joint would normally occur when using shorter pieces.