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Property Setbacks & Your House Plan

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Property Setbacks & Your House Plan

What is a setback?

A setbackis the minimum distance which a house must be set back from the property line of the lot it will be built on.  The minimum distance required by zoning codes along the front, rear, and sides of the property vary by zoning district.  When building in a planned community, it is common for developers to create setback lines to ensure uniform appearance in the neighborhood. 

Meeting setback requirements is important for permitting, therefore the precise location of the property lines should be obtained early in the house plan selection process.

According to the City of Cincinnati, front and side setbacks are measured at a right angle from the right-of-way line.  The rear setback is measured at a right angle from the rear lot line or the rear right-of-way or easement line where there is an alley. 

Measuring Setbacks | House Plan Construction

When determining the distances for setbacks all measurements must be taken along a horizontal plane from the appropriate line and edge of the home.  The distances must not follow the topography of the land.

Measuring Setbacks | House Plan Construction

Now, there are some exceptions to the rules.  Setback encroachment allowances are often approved for certain architectural features such as:

  • Awnings;
  • Bay windows (limited);
  • Chimneys;
  • Cornices;
  • Eaves;
  • Basement light-wells;
  • Uncovered decks;
  • Porches; and
  • Entry stairs


Setbacks vs. House plan

Which came first: the chicken or the egg? This age old question is often translated to the home building world.  You may be asking yourself, "Should I purchase my land, or choose a home plan design first?"

If you will be building on an urban or suburban lot its likely you may run into property size or architectural style restrictions. In this case, purchasing the property and verifying details about the requirements for the land is best.  Knowing these details will allow you and our team of home plan advisors to select the house that fits your family's lifestyle, as well as modify it if necessary to meet lot requirements. 

Building on an oversized rural plot of land gives you more flexibility when it comes to choosing the architectural style and staying within the required setbacks. This means purchasing your lot after you choose the home plan is an option. When in doubt, do your research by speaking with a local real estate agent, builder, and home plan designer before making your investment.


House Plan Construction | Archival Designs | Home Plan Designs


Understanding your local regulations, researching, hiring the right team and being involved through the process will make your home building project smooth and enjoyable.  Finally, remember to contactour modification team to learn more about modifying any house plan to fit your land's needs! 


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