flexiblefullpage - default
Currently Reading

Designing for Narrow Lots

billboard - default
House Plans

Designing for Narrow Lots

Artful solutions to the challenges posed by density

By Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD, House Review Lead Designer June 6, 2016
home design for a narrow lot by KGA Studio Architects
The 2220 Washington by KGA Studio Architects. (Scroll down for more info about the project.)
This article first appeared in the June 2016 issue of Pro Builder.

As land costs in desirable areas continue to skyrocket, single-family home density inevitably increases. With construction costs directly tied to the linear frontage of roads and utilities, it stands to reason that lot widths must decrease. Although designing and building homes on narrow lots is extremely difficult, carefully conceived projects can offer an appealing combination of privacy, low maintenance, and exciting architectural details. The dilemma of where to place the automobiles and how to achieve privacy are probably the greatest challenges. Although garages placed along a rear lane allow more emphasis on the front facade, this extra pavement can add to the overall development costs. The following concepts address these issues of garage location, parking, and outdoor living spaces in a variety of ways with footprints as narrow as 17 feet. As always, we appreciate your thoughts and comments.


Affordable Infill Prototype


Built on extremely tight budgets, this new prototype for affordable home ownership and for urban infill on narrow lots provides amenities and a feeling of spaciousness unusual for this type of housing. The lot leaves just 17 feet of buildable width, as required by the zoning code, which also requires a two-car garage. Set in the challenging neighborhood of South Los Angeles, the prototype features a garage design that creates integrated defensible space, while maintaining openness and connection to the outdoors. The design allows the option of a carport standing in for a garage, creating a 70-foot-long entry sequence. Abundant daylight, indoor-outdoor connections, high ceilings, and vivid colors work together to offer luxury, dignity, and healthy living that’s typical to Southern California and rare for affordable infill homes. Xeriscape planting and permeable surfaces fit into existing neighborhoods while honoring and energizing them. 




The Pflugerville

One of the greatest challenges in designing for a narrow lot involves creating a backyard with a sense of privacy. By creating a floor plan that eliminates or at least minimizes windows along one side, the adjacent home enjoys a secluded courtyard and outdoor living space. Being economical in the use of fencing (positioning a fence and gate at the front and rear of this side yard) provides a secure place for children and pets.






Narrow Lot Modern

When it comes to defining narrow, every market across the country is different. We design 18- and 20-foot-wide single-family homes every day. The single-family home pictured offers a clean, modern aesthetic that’s perfect for today’s diverse buyers. The first floor has an “anything room” with full bath; it can become a guest suite, home office, craft room, or kid hangout. The second floor is the main living area, including a large gourmet kitchen, dining room, grand room, media room, home studio, and powder room. In the home studio, we can incorporate the Pinterest and Houzz design features popular with buyers today, including a continuous countertop over the laundry, chalkboard walls for lists and calendars, and organized pantry storage that makes room for large appliances. The third floor is the home’s private space, with three bedrooms and two baths. 





The Kilmayne


Designed for an infill location, this narrow lot home lives big and is packed with features found in wider homes, such as a downstairs bedroom and a two-car garage. The plan provides a great entry experience that defies its narrow width. Throughout, spaces are interconnected to create an open feel with abundant natural light. Angled walls in the family room maximize opportunities for window placement. 




2220 Washington


Our client bought a parcel of land in downtown Denver that was divided into six 25-foot-wide urban lots. With home prices skyrocketing throughout Colorado, he approached us with two objectives: to hit the market while it was hot and to offer a well-designed product at an attainable price point (under $450K). Designing narrow, 18-foot-wide urban infill homes met both of these objectives. It allowed us to avoid the lengthy process of replatting to achieve wider lots, thus creating savings on project cost. This home has a small footprint but doesn’t compromise design. It offers an owner’s entry, walk-in pantry, front flex space, and several upstairs options. 



leaderboard2 - default

Related Stories


Townhome Designs That Suit the Neighborhood (and the Neighbors)

These townhouses play well with the detached homes around them, while offering greater density

House Review

Create More Diverse Housing Options With Accessory Dwelling Units

ADUs provide homeowners with a range of opportunities for independent living and aging in place, or for added long-term or vacation rental income


Fresh Design Ideas for Open-Plan Kitchens and Living Spaces

Pro Builder's House Review team offers ways home builders can update and improve the design of open-plan kitchen, dining, living spaces

boombox1 -
native1 - default
halfpage2 -

More in Category

Get your sales and marketing teams together to create and deliver a consistent brand message from start to finish

Pundits may not agree on the timing nor the severity of the next economic downturn, but one thing’s certain: these 10 essential tactics will boost your business' efficiency, productivity, and profit

A closer look at what’s propelling the adoption of off-site construction methods in home building

native2 - default
halfpage1 -

Create an account

By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.

Daily Feed Newsletter

Get Pro Builder in your inbox

Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Save the stories you care about

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

Disable your ad-blocker
Disable now
Subscribe to Pro Builder
Already a member? Sign in
Become a Member

Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.