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What's the difference between a zero lot line home and a traditional lot home?

“Always pick your yard based on your Summer lifetstyle.”


November 12, 2018 - Karl Yeh

Wondering how a zero lot line home differs from a traditional lot home? Why would you buy one over the other? In this episode, we discuss the differences between the two types and associated costs. We also explore zero lot line wall construction and zoning. Finally, we look at how living in a zero lot line home impacts your relationship with neighbours. 

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Karl Yeh:

Hi everyone. I'm Karl Yeh. Welcome to another Homebuyer's School video, a channel where you get the latest strategies, tactics and tips from home buying experts. And remember, if this is your first time on this channel, and you wanna get the latest strategies from the experts, hit the subscription button below. Hit the little notification bell so you don't miss [00:00:30] anything.

Today I'm joined by Kristy Seibert, Area Manager with Brookfield Residential. And the question we're gonna answer today is I've always wanted to know is:

What exactly is a zero lot line home and how is that different from a traditional house?

Kristy, what exactly is zero lot lines to begin with?

Kristy Seibert:              

With a traditional single family home, your home would have two side yards [00:01:00].

With a zero lot line home, your home is actually built on the property line on one side. So this  means that you have one side yard on your home.

Karl Yeh:                      

So there's no actual ... So if I have a house and if it's zero lot line, I'm built right against that line.

Kristy Seibert:              

Yes. So you are on the property line on the one side, so your side yard would be on the other side of your home.

Karl Yeh:                      

Got it. Okay. So I can't necessarily build a fence anymore in the middle because I'm right against the property. And if I build a fence, it'll be on the other person's property.

Kristy Seibert:              

Correct. When it comes to building a fence on a zero lot line, you can build a fence in your backyard. [00:01:30] You just have to build it from the back corner of your home to the back property line.

Karl Yeh:                       Okay. So it would be your house, fence, fence, not fence in between.

Kristy Seibert:               Right. So you can't put a fence between the two houses.

Karl Yeh:                       Okay. Your house is essentially the fence.

Kristy Seibert:               Yes.

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Karl Yeh:                      

Okay. Can you answer me:

Why are houses built like that? Right against the property?

Wouldn't it make sense to build it a little off the property, [00:02:00] the line?

Kristy Seibert:              

Right. This way, the lot is a little bit narrower for your home, which actually saves money because your lot isn't as large as it is.

And really people don't use their side yards so if you have access from the one side, then you're pretty much covered.

Kind of less maintenance to do in your yard and helps keep the cost lower, so this allows you to maybe purchase a home that's a little bit larger than you would be able to if you were [00:02:30] going with a traditional lot. And if not, then you can just save some money by purchasing the home that you wanted to, which will be kind of at a lower cost than on a traditional lot.

Karl Yeh:                      

Have you ever found ... I'm thinking maybe there's disagreements between neighbours because their lots are so close, and your house is right against the lot. Have you seen any issues where your neighbour has built something, that room between is so narrow [00:03:00] that there's no room for you to move around?

Kristy Seibert:              

Actually, when the purchase agreement is written, both buyers would be signing and agreement saying that they allow their neighbour to use that property if they need to repair something on the side of their home or do some exterior maintenance on their home.

In a sense, it's like a common property area so it's like a shared space. At the end [00:03:30] of the day, with the single family, you do have your own side yard so for you to mow your lawn in your backyard, you can take your lawnmower from your front yard to your backyard, no problem.

But yes, if you have maintenance to do on the side of your home, then both yourself and your neighbour have signed off saying that permission is given to enter their property.

Zero lot line wall construction

Karl Yeh:                      

Can you tell me more about the zero lot line wall construction. How does that work?

Kristy Seibert:              

[00:04:00] With the zero lot line, they're going to add extra fire retardant materials to the exterior of your home, just because the homes are built a little bit closer together than previously.

So for safety, that's what they're implementing there. And you also don't have windows on the side of your home.

Karl Yeh:                       Oh, you're not allowed.

Kristy Seibert:              

No. Just again, for safety for any kind of fire transfer there helps reduce that risk. And really if you had a window on the side, your neighbor's close enough that-

Karl Yeh:                       [00:04:30] They'd probably see.

Kristy Seibert:              

The home's right there. Yeah, right there.

So with the zero lot lines, windows are kept to the front and the back of the home.

Karl Yeh:                      

So you're not allowed to ... Your neighbor isn't even allowed to have a window on that side either, right?

Kristy Seibert:               No.

Karl Yeh:                      

So you can't have like the weird kinda two windows looking at each other and there's like a strip-

Kristy Seibert:               Right. Yeah.

Karl Yeh:                      

Can you tell me more about the zoning of that?

How does the zoning work in terms of zero lot line homes?

Kristy Seibert:              

It would be predetermined by the land developer and [00:05:00] the city whether a lot would be zoned for a zero lot line or not.

And so your sales representative would know which lots are zoned as a zero lot line and which ones are not.

Karl Yeh:                      

Have you ever found issues related to zero lot line homes that homeowners probably need to know about?

Kristy Seibert:              

No, not really. It's all kind of covered in the purchase agreement so the buyer is made aware [00:05:30] far in advance of what the zero lot line means. It's kinda the new norm. I think a lot of people are just kind of used to that.

When they're looking for a new home, they kind of realize that, that's kind of how they're all set up now. It's just something that is normal now.

Karl Yeh:                       Perfect. Do you have anything else to add in terms of zero lot line homes?

Kristy Seibert:              

Don't be discouraged by it. I think it's a great way to purchase a larger home and kinda save some money there and [00:06:00] get friendly with your neighbours.

Karl Yeh:                      

My question for you is:

Do you own a zero lot line home? And how is your experience with it?

Let us know in the comments section below. Thank you very much for joining us and we'll catch you next time.


Your turn:

Let us know if you have additional home buying questions that we can answer by submitting them in the comments section below. 

Homebuyer's School publishes new content weekly so subscribe or check back regularly for the latest information, strategies and tips from homebuying experts. 

About Kristy Seibert:

Kristy graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Arts double majoring in Sociology and Human Geography & Urban Planning. After building a new home of her own, she learned more about the process of buying and selling homes and wanted to explore career options in the housing industry. Kristy has been working with Brookfield Residential for 4 years and has sold homes in five different Brookfield communities. She has experience with Single Family, Duplex and Multi-Family homes and enjoys building relationships with her homeowners and guiding them through every stage of their homebuying journey!

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