The first thing we had to do after making an offer on the lot was to request two zoning variances from the city of Rocky River. The first was for lot coverage. The city allows lot coverage of 28%. Though we tried to be as space-efficient as possible, we weren't quite able to make a home for a family of four (with a little room to grow) and a detached garage fit in that amount of space. So, off to the Zoning Commission we went, to request a variance to increase our lot coverage to 32.4%. We justified our request by pointing out that our lot is just a bit smaller than most others in the area, and that the reduced driveway area we achieved by accessing the garage off the back alley will more than make up for the slight increase in impermeable area caused by the building coverage.
While we were at it, we had to throw in another request for a slight increase in allowable height, from 25'-0" to 27'-6". We are not going to have a tall house, per se, but this city measures mean roof from the front setback line, and our our lot slopes quite a bit (almost 9 feet!) from front to back, so if we want to be able to walk out our back doors we needed a bit more room in that department. The other big reason we needed some extra height is that we are planning an extremely tight and well-insulated building envelope, part of which includes a flat ceiling on the second floor with 20" or so of insulation in the unconditioned attic space, bringing that insulation value close to R-60.
So I presented our plans at the monthly Zoning Commission meeting with sweaty palms. Why do these things always make me so nervous?! In fact, they were delightfully understanding and easy to work with, and were very excited at the prospect of a "green" home being built in the city. Long story short we received our two approvals and moved on to the next stage: presenting to the Board of Design Review.
To be continued...