Double Exposure: Is Living on a Corner for You – or Not?
Homeowners and buyers often have strong views when it comes to corner lots. Some swear that it’s the best place to be, especially if you’re planning on building your dream home, while others can’t stop talking about all the traffic – foot and motor – that passes by each day.
From unique views to dream house designs, corner lot house plans can check a number of boxes on most people’s wish list. But is a building lot on a corner ideal for your dream home? Here are the pros and cons of building your dream home on a corner lot.
Top: This 3-bedroom, 2-bath transitional Craftsman style home has a side-loading garage, making it a candidate for placement on a corner lot. Bottom: The floor plan shows where the corner would occur, although reversing the plan would allow it to be placed on an opposite corner (Plan #104-1064).
There are many good reasons why corner lots are desirable, and we like to accentuate the positive, so we’ll tackle those first – advantages like design freedom, more room, and ample parking.
But there are many who believe in getting bad news first, to get their mind working on tackling the issues and then see how they can make good news out of both. If you’re one of those, skip down to the cons, then come back to the pros. You won’t be disappointed.
Be forewarned: there are a fair number of cons on this list, though most are subject to the area that you choose to build in. Some are completely avoidable, while others you just may have to live with.
But we’re starting with the fun part . . .
Top: With its garage attached at a 45-degree angle, this 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath Country style home with Craftsman overtones is natural for a corner lot, but it could also easily be positioned on a conventional front-access building lot (Plan 106-1275). Bottom: This beautiful Cape Cod home looks as though it was designed for this particular corner (Plan #187-1006).
Designs That Present the Best Face
Corner lots typically offer more property and better views, and with this extra space comes the potential for some beautiful corner house designs. Typically, corner lot house plans come with side entry garages. This means the front of the house isn’t obscured by a large front-entry garage door but instead presents a face to the street that looks like a natural extension of the house. You might even design a second-floor balcony overlooking the front of the house, like the house below. These home designs wouldn’t make sense on a regular lot, but on a corner lot, they shine.
Top: This 3-bedroom, 2-bath Country style home presents a stylishly beautiful facade that appears to be all house. Bottom: But the right front side, as you can see in the floor plan, is actually the garage. The side-loading garage allows – but doesn't require – the house to be built on a corner lot, with visitors entering the front side entrance ot the home and cars entering and exiting off to the side, or intersecting street of the corner lot (Plan #142-1191).
If a house plan with a side entry garage isn’t for you, there are beautiful homes that feature courtyard entry garages, roundabout driveways, and angle-facing doors. Because of the design possibilities on a corner lot – with the house footprint often taking on an L-shape – the house might feature a master suite on the second floor overlooking the yard without having to take up too much of the property. Another excellent corner home design is the luxury Mediterranean style home below, with front-facing garages and roundabout driveway that can exit the property at the right on a corner lot.
Top: This 4-bedroom, 4.5-bath luxury Mediterranean style home with front-facing 3-car garage has a roundabout driveway that can exit off to the right on a corner lot or exit to the front on a conventional lot (Plan #175-1090). Bottom: Another excellent – and versatile – corner home design is this 5-bedroom, 5-bath, 3-half-bath luxury Country style home (bottom), with front-facing and side-entry garages and rooms above each garage (Plan 161-1054).
More Yard, More Creativity
Many homeowners view more yard as a good thing! There’s more room for that pool or water feature, for the kids and dog to run, and for those gardens, you always wanted to design. You can have custom landscaping with designs you just don’t see on regular lots.
For example: The owners of a corner-lot property might take advantage of the opportunity afforded by intersecting sidewalks to create an attractive planting with shrubs, mulch, and lighting in the landscape in the intersection corner of the lot. The corner landscaping may also provide night safety to pedestrians in a semi-rural community that has no streetlights with the inclusion of lighting in the landscaping.
Room with a View
One thing not many are complaining about is the view that corner lots can provide. While many houses look out the side windows onto neighbor’s lawns, the side of houses, or a wooden fence, with a corner lot you can overlook the mountains in the distance or the park across the street because you only have one side of the house facing neighbors, instead of two.
Parking Headache Cure
If you’re in an area that’s cramped for parking, a corner lot is a great asset! There is parking on two sides of your lot rather than one, making it the place to host parties, summer barbecues, and game night. If you choose a corner lot house plan that has a roundabout driveway, your parking options are even better!
Top: With its 3-car garage space (two side entry and one front facing) this 5-bedroom, 3.5-bath luxury Country style home allows for lots of space to put cars (in addition to the two adjacent streets on a corner lot). Bottom: The floor plan shows that you can run the driveway in one of two directions, or both if you like (Plan #153-1021)!
Some Alone Time
Ever been in the backyard enjoying the weather when you hear your neighbors arguing loudly on one side of you and kids screaming on a trampoline on the other side? Not on a corner lot. You will have one neighbor, but because your lot has no bordering property on the other side, you’ll have the pleasure of reading that book in your lawn chair and catching some rays—all in peace on that side of the house. You’ll just have to make sure you have a privacy planting or other barrier at the edge of the property to shield you from the sidewalk and street on that side.
Challenging Yard Function
Yes, yard design was listed as a “pro” but it also has a downside. A common complaint from corner lot dwellers is the yard design. In a corner lot, you typically have a larger front yard and a smaller backyard. If you have a house where the front door faces the corner, it may have an awkward corner section that is difficult to do anything with. You can try planting a flower mound in it or have a nice water feature, but the distance from that end of the yard to the house can be a bit awkward. If you choose to build a home with a roundabout driveway, there’s usually a separate piece of landscaping that is completely divided from the rest of the house.
Top: This 4-bedroom, 3-bath, 2-half-bath Shingle-style home has an awkward layout for a corner lot. The front door faces the corner, and the garage doors face the front of the house. The solution was to build a wraparound front porch to "ease" the home's entry point and create a courtyard of sorts in front of the garage, then run the driveway off the left side of the corner lot (Plan #161-1038). Bottom: This 3-bedroom, 3-bath Southwest style home (bottom) has a roundabout driveway that connects with the side entry garage at the rear left of the house. The landscaped fountain in the turnaround portion of the driveway is separated and feels apart from the rest of the home's landscaping (Plan 136-1031).
More Yard, More Maintenance
This goes arm-in-arm with the yard design. Many Saturday mowers have a bone to pick with corner lots. There is a more unusable yard, which means all the effort of maintaining, such as mowing and weeding, but less of actually being able to enjoy the yard. It would be a bit of a reach, after all, to put a cabana in an angled lawn taking up the front of the house. This results in largely unused, but mow-able space, that doesn’t really justify buying a riding lawnmower. Of course, you could just hire a landscaping service to come and take care of it for you, but you will most likely end up paying them more than your neighbors will.
More Sidewalk, More Work
In addition to your lot maintenance, if you have a sidewalk, that’s twice the amount of sidewalk maintenance that you now have to tackle. That means twice the amount of snow to shovel each winter, twice the amount of leaves to rake, and twice the amount of edging and weed-spraying. That may just be twice-too-many for you.
Cars, Traffic, and Noise
Now is where we get into the meat of many complaints – the traffic. On your typical lot, you’ll only have to deal with traffic on one side of your home. With a corner lot, there’s traffic running on two sides, which can lead to more noise, lights at night, and less privacy. If the lot happens to be in a quiet neighborhood, this may not be such a big deal. But if the home is built on a busy intersection, you’ve got a lot more noise and light on your hands.
Light Pollution Comes Homes
We covered this a bit with traffic, but along with the light that you’ll “enjoy” from passing cars, you’ll most likely be gifted a lamp post on your corner. This is nothing personal, but quite common especially in larger towns and bigger cities. Depending on which rooms face the light, it could disturb occupants’ sleep. Your best bet is to build a house where the bedrooms are mostly in the back and/or away from where the light will be – just in case.
Great for a corner lot, this modest 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath Ranch style home (top) has an interior ideally laid out for the glare that might come from a lamp post situated at the corner that shines all night long (bottom). The bedrooms are at the rear and right side of the house, positioned far away from the light source that could otherwise disturb sleep or require careful attention ot room-darkening window treatments (Plan #200-1030).
Fighting Foot Traffic
On a corner, you’re likely to get more foot traffic by your house. This could be in the form of kids getting dropped off a school bus (which may come with added trash and kids taking a shortcut through your yard), or daily joggers and their dogs. Homes on the corner also have a higher probability of getting robbed with fewer neighbors to notice. While you may be able to set up a fence on a few sides of your yard to reduce the risk of unwanted guests on your lawn and to increase your privacy, many cities have ordinances restricting fences on corner lots.
Whether a corner lot is for you is a personal choice, but many who choose to build on one say they wouldn’t have their dream home any other way. Wherever you choose to build, make the most of the lot with a home plan that fits it.