What to look for in a zero-lot line home
Is a zero-lot line or narrow-lot line home right
for you? Before "going narrow," here are a few things
Privacy and design: Solitude seekers should
probably opt more for designs with more outdoor living space in
the rear. Gregarious types will probably favor a big front porch.
Note that views from the side will generally be of either a tall
fence or the wall of your neighbor's zero-lot line home -- possibly
even a view into your neighbor's windows. Either buy a home with
a staggered windows or privacy fences, or consider plantation shutters
or thick drapes.
Yard maintenance: It's almost negligible, except
the optional garden. Many homeowner associations include lawn service
in their fees. If not, it's your responsibility.
Storage: There may be minimal storage capacity
for lawn-care tools and personal effects as the trade-off for more
living space. You may have to swallow the $50 or $60 a month (or
more) for remote self storage.
Safety: The closer the neighbors, the more
eyes on your property, which can be good or bad. Do consider that
closer spacing between homes increases the risk of fires spreading.
Small children, pets: The smaller yards don't
provide ample space for children or active dogs to romp. Hence,
most kids will take to the streets to play with neighbors. A location
in a low-traffic area can alleviate some of those concerns.
Air circulation and lighting: With houses 10
feet apart, there may be minimal window ventilation and little natural
light at sunset and sunrise. Some newer formats address the circulation
with better home positioning, and have skylights or extra windows.
Home decor: Overstuffed furniture, wall-length
decor and large conversations pieces that fit comfortably in your
old spread may not conform as well to a narrow design.
Amenity centers: Larger zero-lot line developments
are more likely to have pools, sports courts, picnic areas and other
recreational areas nearby for common use.
Homeowner's associations: Their quality and
costs vary greatly. Before buying, know what your association does
and doesn't do and what it restricts.
Investment potential: It's always a question
mark, but zero-lot line homes are appreciating at market rate thus
Steve McLinden is a freelance writer
based in Texas