Zero Lot Homes

A little while ago, Herself and I were driving past one of those obnoxious housing developments which are springing up all over North Texas like particularly oiksome fungi, saw an “Open House” sign, and decided, “Oh, what the hell. Why not?” And took a look around.

They were something called “Zero Lot Homes”, and I’m here to tell you — I’m not impressed.

The interior design is not all that bad, matter of fact there were a couple of ideas that I like, but the exterior …

I’m not a big fan of being in the hip pocket of the neighbors on either side. Both of them were way too close for my personal comfort. And where the hell are you supposed to put a kitchen garden? The standard plan had no room out front, and barely enough room out back for a tomato plant if you wanted your dog to have running room.

The model with the pool was worse.

And why are modern homes allergic to front porches? I mean — I don’t mind having a long, narrow chokepoint leading to my front door, (other people might get twitchy the first time it’s used), but front porches are infinitely handy things. We sit on ours, use it for short-term storage, entertain guests (especially the ones who smoke), and hand out candy on Hallowe’en. It’s a great place to stage before going out into a rain- or snow-storm; and a good place to shake off your umbrella or wellingtons.

If people are getting so anti-social that front porches aren’t a good idea, I’m thinking putting the houses so close together isn’t a good idea, either.

Oh, and as someone who’s slightly familiar with land — someone needs to teach these California developers exactly how much land a “1/2 acre” is.  Those might have been quarter-acre lots, but I wouldn’t bet the lunch money on that.

Sigh. This is why I’ll never be a “trend-setter”.


Well done!
Moggies! In! Space!

18 thoughts on “Zero Lot Homes”

  1. They don’t have porches because they’re not being designed by Texans, that’s all. And they don’t expect Texans to buy them either.

  2. I always felt “cramped” in my Brother-in-law’s 6 bedroom, zero lot home, so I hear ya loud and clear! We are blessed with a home built before all this nonsense.

    Ulises from the People’s Republik of Kalipornia

  3. The zero lot line homes in Anchorage (Alaska) are only 12 feet apart. As a former building inspector, I asked where that number came from: it’s fractionally more than the distance at which heat from a burning house can set the house next door on fire. It’s also just wide enough to allow the largest firetrucks to pass between the structures.

    No thanks. I’m on .6 of an acre, and 100 feet from my nearest neighbor. Not gonna change.

  4. BLUF: They hate people, they especially hate people who own homes, and cars, and guns.
    They want you to take authorized entertainment while sipping you daily ration of soma; any socializing will be at the local communist, I mean community center under the watchful eye of the politruk.

  5. These are homes for people who have only lived in an apartment their entire life. They’re used to be in everybody’s business and have no concept of privacy. Personally I hate them, but locusts gotta locust.

  6. UGH. I live in a 1918-1930 Art and Crafts neighborhood with a minimum lot size of 1.5 standard city lots and THAT’s way too close. If I was younger and still had my knees, I’d move out to where my son bought his house. But I can barely keep up with the lawn as it is (sigh).

    We do have nice porches, though……..

  7. Well, depending on the price they could make good starter homes for young couples, and if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of a lawn and don’t plan on entertaining a lot the lack of a yard is a boon, not a bane.

  8. FWIW, I saw an article that stated front porches were eliminated from house design because it was where people were talking and sharing ideas.

  9. I suspect it has more to do with developers trying to put more houses on a given piece of land. As always, follow the money! From a fire dept point of view, (been a firefighter most of my adult life) most jurisdictions policy when one of those homes is well involved to focus on the adjacent exposures. I’ve been on several home fires in neighborhoods like these. When all done, there’s still some framing left of the incident structure and heavy damage to the exposure structures. I hate those neighborhoods. The streets also tend to be narrow with limited parking, so the residents park anywhere they can. Makes it challenging to get a fire engine/ truck co to where they need to be placed.

  10. Zero lots are the bastard offspring of high density housing (condos/apartments) and single family houses. It’s a way of crowding sheep into a pen and telling them that they have “their own private house”.
    Completed scam, by developers taking advantage of former apartment dwellers.
    Hopefully, this “neighborhood” has a ‘decorative wall’ around it so that when the war comes we can block the gates to keep them in.

  11. You get what you pay for, and you pay for what you can afford.
    Truth is that lot of people just can’t afford a house and a generous allocation of land with tons of distance between them and their neighbors. New families or retirees especially.
    Likewise, an affordable house with lots of land often comes with a really long drive to get to work.
    So, going with more dense housing meets the demand for cheaper housing in areas where there is less available land- especially in well developed areas.
    Not ideal, but it is what it is.

    1. I find there are lots of places with affordable homes and good paying jobs – but they’re all in places most people don’t want to live.
      Where I live the average house is about $200k (not cheap, agreed) but there are lots of jobs available at $30+ an hour requiring only a high school education. The average household income in the county is $92k a year and there isn’t a single traffic light for over 50 miles.

  12. Let me guess, the roof lines are very steep and with dark shingles?

  13. In the Caribbean, you can hear your neighbor sing when taking a shower and listen to their TV shows from the comfort of you home.
    No central A/C except in condominiums and expensive homes.
    For the average, window units are only turned on for sleeping and only during the summer.

  14. My current abode is about 20 years old and while not zero-lot, is close to it from the distance between houses point of view (more like 20 feet instead of 12(!). As I look at potential snowbird residences in your neck of the woods, I definitely lean toward acreage, but the trick is finding a place that has adequate access to the suburban creature comforts we’ve grown accustomed to…

  15. Joe in PNG is entirely correct. The price of the acre I have in La Vernia, TX, would not have gotten me even a quarter acre anywhere near San Antonio.

    As for the porch:
    In the period immediately before and after World War II, the American front porch became a relic of the past, an architectural feature and cultural symbol no longer important to Americans. The technological and social forces that initiated this change will be explored in this section.

    The primary technological change that spurred this developing abandonment of the front porch was the proliferation of the American automobile. The growing numbers of automobiles in America, its expansional use by different classes, and its growing use as a means of transportation flooded the American streets and roadways with cars. As a result, “the front porch was no longer an idyllic setting where one could relax and commune with nature,” for the “exhaust fumes and the noise of a steady stream of cars and trucks had rendered it inhospitable and unhealthy”(Kahn 5). The automobile further created a new enclave and setting of towns and cities: suburbia. Automobiles allowed for Americans to move further distances from their workplace to build homes on less expensive property. The “automobile-dependent suburbs”(Kahn 5) did not feature front porches, due to the omnipresence of the automobile. Thus, as technology had helped to develop the front porch, by the mid twentieth century it was leading to its decline.

    The new technological development of air conditioning further aided in the decline of the front porch. Providing a cool environment indoors, the front porch was no longer needed as a cool shaded area during the day or as a place to enjoy the cool night air. Families remained indoors comfortably, and a primary use of the front porch was no longer needed. Air conditioning, in a sense, also contributed to another technological development which would affect the front porch: the television. The television, which could exist only inside, provided endless hours of entertainment indoors. As a result, family life shifted from the porch to a family room or t.v. room, where families could watch the evening news, sporting events, or the early sitcoms, all while enjoying the newly invented “t.v. dinner.” No longer would families relax outside on the front porch.

  16. A California quarter-acre is somewhere around 7000 square feet, or 7500-ish if you measure to the middle of the street.
    Standardized units of measure? What are those?

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