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Building Setback Lines

Discussion in 'General Land Surveying' started by Dan Collins, Mar 3, 2012.

  1. Dan Collins

    Dan Collins 4-Year Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Forsyth, GA
    I have been having some interesting discussions on this topic lately and thought I would throw it out on this forum for feedback.

    When you show the distance from the house/building to the boundary line do you measure from the actual corner or from the edge of the roof overhang?

    Most drawings in these parts indicate the outline of a structure with a perpendicular tie to the boundary line and a distance, sometimes to the nearest tenth of a foot and sometimes to the nearest hundredth of a foot, with no indication of where the measurement began. As we discussed in the office, most times it does not matter as there is plenty of room between the structure and the minimum set back requirement, however at times it can become an issue.

    Thoughts/opinions/comments?
     
  2. John

    John 4-Year Member

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    Oct 20, 2010
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    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    At the companies I worked for here in Maryland, the people setting up the houses (for some reason), liked to put them right on the setback line, even if there was more than enough room to do otherwise.

    When I started drawing up house locations, the crews would located the house, not the overhang. If the house was parallel to the lot line, I was told to dimension to the midpoint of that side of the house, otherwise, to dimension to the closest corner.
     
  3. Stephen Calder

    Stephen Calder 4-Year Member

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    Location:
    Mobile, Alabama
    I have observed from reading the survey boards over the years that this is an area greatly dependant on local practices. And it is often a result of the attitudes and actions of the local planning and zoning boards.

    No one should build a house right on the setback line, but it happens. No P and Z officer should get heartburn over a few inches of overhang (or even building) into a building line envelope, but it happens.

    I have seen that most often but not always, it is the main building corners that get located and reported.

    An obvious truism in this issue is that the higher the land value, the more precise and strict the actors get.

    Stephen
     
  4. Ken Salzmann

    Ken Salzmann 5-Year Member

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    Location:
    Pawling, NY
    Licensed in:
    CT, NJ, NY
    I show the building line. Some towns will accept the foundation being clear of the setback, some want to see the siding clear.

    Some towns will permit a roof to encroach beyond the setback up to a certain distance, often 2 or 2.5 feet.

    Always safer to build a few tenths cushion clear, just in case, if possible.

    Check your local zoning.

    Had an assisted living where part of the building was cocked about 45 degrees to the boundary. The planners had maxed out the site, extending the building right to the setbacks. Due to the orientation (base vs. hypotenuse), the overhang exceeded the permissable limit at one corner. The building inspector would not permit the overhang, 3 stories up, to exceed the setback. They wound up building the roof with one corner champhered off; I doubt the residents even notice.

    As always, it depends.

    KS
     
  5. LowcountrySurveyor

    LowcountrySurveyor 4-Year Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
    Basically this.

    It depends on the zoning.

    Generally though, I measure at the building line and show it perpendicular to the tenth at the property line. In my notes I say, "Buildings measured and located at ground level."
     
  6. JBStahl

    JBStahl 5-Year Member

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    Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Licensed in:
    MT, UT
    It depends entirely upon the local zoning ordinance in effect. That may vary with each separate municipality. Some state the setback limit to the foundation line; some include bay window overhangs, some don't. Some limits extend to the eve; some use the foundation with a maximum overhang limit. Some include support columns, some include them only if on a concrete foundation.

    The way you measure them and show them on the drawing needs to comply with the zoning requirements that are in place. The only way to know that is to look it up and read it. Knowing how we did it before on the last job site isn't enough to keep you from simply guessing.

    JBS
     
  7. Andy J

    Andy J 5-Year Member

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    Sanibel Island, Florida
    In my area of work, for existing structures, I dimension to the building corners. But the setbacks are very strict for new construction/additions to the point where I've seen people have to have their overhangs cut off to conform. 10' side setback NO EXCEPTIONS. no variances allowed. But then I can travel up the road to where the county is in charge and it's like the wild west. So, it varies.
     
  8. SIR VEYSALOT

    SIR VEYSALOT 5-Year Member

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    I've encountered ordinances that allow so many inches of facia per foot of setback (ie 30 inches of facia allowed to overhang in a 30' setback)
     
  9. HighCountrySurveyor

    HighCountrySurveyor 3-Year Member

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    Aug 12, 2011
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    Location:
    Black Mountain, NC
    I agree with the general consensus that it depends upon the zoning ordinance, and in some cases the zoning administrator may have his/or her own interpretation. Also, in our area, county/city and subdivision restrictive covenants may be in conflict and we have to be sure that what is shown on our plats are the most restrictive of the two (sometimes three!!)
    In only one municipality in our area was the setback determination based on the eave of the structure instead of the wall or foundation and that city has moved away from that as well. We did a lot survey in a very upscale TND a few years ago where the side setback was, in some cases only three feet. Unfortunately, architects had designed neighboring houses with very impressive, three and a half to four foot eaves as well. Long story short, both neighbors encroached on each other! Nothing has come of it so far as I'm aware but it has taught me another lesson in surveying-Try to get full architectural plans prior to staking out any new structure and look for any problems that may pop up. I work hard for my money and hate to give it away to attorneys and irate land owners.
     
  10. Chan GePlease

    Chan GePlease 4-Year Member

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    Location:
    Mohave County, AZ
    I also agree with the local consensus. I tend to work to the foundation, both on location surveys and construction staking and make sure everybody knows that. I figure that facia, bay windows, overhangs, etc are the architects concerns. How many times do all the building dimensions and stated setbacks equal the lot width?

    I once knew a zoned out official make somebody tear down a block wall. It was a 5' side setback requirement, and that is where the house was. The people then built a wall a couple tenths into their lot. It seems that fire code is what requires that 5' distance for access to the rear in the event of fire. So with the wall being there it left only 4.2' wide which in his eyes is a violation. Odd.
     
  11. DEREK G. GRAHAM OLS OLIP

    DEREK G. GRAHAM OLS OLIP 5-Year Member

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    Location:
    North Aboyne Farm (Elora Ontario Canada)
    Dan-

    In Ontario it is usual to tie in/allow for the foundation as the delimiter thus allowing reasonable overhang by the cladding/eaves.

    Some ZBLs allow for components of the structure to encroach into the various setbacks.

    "Limiting Distance" which is derived from the Ontario Building Code http://opseu560.org/BuildingCode-2007.pdf can be a treat.

    It would not be the second time that a structure not parallel to a boundary had a distance to the boundary shown on the production of the wall, not the norm of square to the boundary.

    We try to impress on builders to allow for 0.30' tolerance in setbacks, principally to allow for concrete form shifting during a pour.

    So if it is a 50' wide square lot with 5' setback minimums we encourage a structure of no greater width than 39.4 feet.

    Anything greater, we reserve the right to set out concrete nails in the footing.

    Otherwise it's a three/four month delay in bureaucratic minor variance applications with the finance clock running if we find the setback is less than the ZBL provides for.

    This delay and extra costs impresses the builders to be cautious.

    We have had knowledge of architects designing residential structures down to the millimeter setback based upon the plan of subdivision dimensions.

    This must be a right treat when the lots are not square.

    We won't work in any subdivision under this scenario.

    Cheers,

    Derek
     
  12. A Harris

    A Harris 5-Year Member

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    This is usually addressed in the subdivision covenants or the P&Z codes whether:

    1. minimum distance from the building exterior walls

    2. no part of any building or overhanging structure can be within a certain distance

    3. all parts of the building will be beyond a certain distance

    4. have seen one that setup a splash free zone along the boundary between adjoining properties that basically required a gutter or rainwater collection system that would fall beyond a required distance from the boundary.

    5. the local towns had to rewrite their setback rules when they went with a grant to do a downtown facial upgrade some years ago. Original buildings began at the street lines and the facelift put structure into the street by tenths to near a foot and in most cases they could not even add any improvements. It took about 10yrs and a new crowd to take over the city council and compromising across the tables before any improvements happened.
     
  13. snoop

    snoop 4-Year Member

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    we show the building tie to the face of the building, never the overhanging eves/gutter. if the overhang is a canopy i will show it separately as a hatched area and give a tie to it as well.

    i have builders that do infill housing that will cantilever over a building line if the lot is tight. i have also seen them cantilever over stream bank setbacks. as long as the improvement is in the air or flat on the ground it can cross the line. no walls coming out of the ground or posts going into the ground is the rule i hear from zoning department. but like others have said - they are all different.
     
  14. Dan Collins

    Dan Collins 4-Year Member

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    Location:
    Forsyth, GA
    Thanks for the feedback.
     

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