Don’t Forget to Plan for Parking

Don’t Forget to Plan for Parking

Unless you’re a gearhead or a car enthusiast, it’s easy to put you focus on designing the home not the driveway. Parking is something that often gets worked out after the house design is settled. However, many builders will tell you parking should be planned out right from the start.

Here’s why and how you can plan for the best parking situation.

The Lot Should Come Before Home and Driveway Design

If you read our post on choosing the perfect lot for your new home, then you already know builders recommend having a property in mind before you finalize the design. Various lot factors like vegetation and slope can affect your home design options as well as where you park your vehicles.

The steepness of the lot is a great example in terms of driveway construction and parking. A 15% or less grade is ideal. If the lot has an extreme slope grading will be needed to create a useable, safe driveway, which will increase the cost. You may find that in order to avoid excessive grading or removing mature trees the driveway will have to be located on a specific side of the house. But you also have to make sure the driveway is far enough away from trees to prevent root system damage.

Soil is another consideration. The sub-grade soil of a lot determines how much load can be supported. If you have low quality soil additional measures will have to be taken before the driveway can be built.

Zoning and Regulations

There’s nothing worse than spending thousands of dollars on a build only to find that it isn’t within regulation and must be altered or removed. As with any construction project, there are zoning restrictions and regulations for building a driveway. If the home is within a planned community or HOA there are certainly going to be regulations on what the driveway looks like, what can be parked on the property and where vehicles can be parked.

During the design phase, check with the local zoning board to see what restrictions and regulations are currently in place. Also, check with the permitting office to see if a special permit is needed for the construction. After that, ask your developer or HOA for a copy of the community regulations. This should spell out whether there are any driveway and parking restrictions that need to be taken into consideration.

Driveway Curb Appeal and Practicality

When you’re thinking about elevation and landscaping, it’s easy to overlook that the driveway is a major part of your home’s curb appeal as well. The shape, width and surface materials can all impact the finished look of your exterior and your home build budget. To create a cohesive look, the driveway should also match the home’s architectural style.

The shape of your driveway is a big decision that’s based on aesthetics and functionality. Curvy driveways need to be wider than straight driveways. If you’re home isn’t far off the street, then you’ll most likely have to stick to a straight driveway for logistical reasons. But if you have extra space up front you can choose a circular driveway that can fit a few extra vehicles and you don’t have to worry about getting blocked in when it’s time to leave.  

Like closets and storage, many homeowners find you can never have too much parking space. If you’re the type that loves to host family dinners or house parties, a long driveway will give your guests somewhere to park off the street. Of course, that could mean extending the driveway past the house if it isn’t far off the road.

How much parking space will you need on a day-to-day basis? That depends on how many vehicles you have and the availability of street parking. Go to the property at different times during the day to determine how much street parking is typically available. If you’re in a new community that isn’t completely built out keep in mind that street parking will likely become more limited.

When you’re making decisions about the driveway details, consider how it will affect the home build budget. More concrete, intricate designs and extensive prep will increase the cost, but it could be worth it if you get better parking options.

Orientation and Footprint of the Home

Where your home sits on the property will have a bearing on the driveway and parking situation. If you have alley or greenbelt access you may want to consider planning the home’s footprint so that you have drive through access from front to back. Plan to build a detached garage behind your home? You’ll need more driveway space off to one side of the house to accommodate a detached garage.

Planning Ahead for Additional Parking Needs

Do you want to get a boat or RV in the future? That’s much easier to do when you have some place to park it. Even if you don’t plan to get a large recreational vehicle you may end up having more cars in the future. This is typically the case for families with young children that will be driving in 5-10 years.

Play it safe and plan ahead for your parking needs so you don’t find yourself running out of space a few years down the road.

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