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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 to consider:

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.

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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 far.

Steve McLinden is a freelance writer based in Texas

 
-- Posted: Aug. 28, 2003
     

 

 
 
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