Jump to content
HAIF - Houston's original social media

An impenetrable urban oasis


Recommended Posts

Imagine that you own a well-located corner lot (50' x 100'), and you really like the location and neighborhood (in general). You got it owner-financed on terms that a bank would never have given, so you wouldn't be inclined to flip it for a better lot. ...but there's a known heroin house two doors down and a bar that is two blocks over which attracts a rough crowd.

You decide to build and live in this (2) (3). My preference is something less fru-fru, but details are unimportant. It's the shape/size/configuration that is relevant.

Your motivation is to preserve your open space, but at the same time shut it off from the world. You neither desire that passers-by know what is behind your fence or that they might be tempted to trespass to find out.

Site configuration is entirely up to you, however easements prevent you from placing any structure within 25 feet of the 50-foot bit frontage or within 10 feet of the 100-foot frontage. Also, a six-foot tall solid iron fence with spikes on top already wraps the entire property.

Begin.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I hadn't been by there in a while, glad to see John finished his next door unit.

Seems like you haven't given us much of a design problem if your only concern is shutting out the outside world. Maximizing open space inside your fortress is hardly going to be a problem if you only have to place one 8'x40' ISBU, plus some deck space.

This seems less a problem in site layout and more an exercise in Fences and Neighbor Relations.

Without actually knowing the details of your site like its orientation, I would say one simple solution would be to just build yourself a 10-12' CMU wall at the the easement perimeter. Then place your ISBU against the inside of the south wall so the side of your ISBU that has all the glazing faces north. There might be cheaper alternatives, but nothing says "Stay Out" like cold hard concrete. You could use weathered steel to make your vehicle and pedestrian access gate.. like this.

A moat and a layer of this wouldn't hurt either.

Edited by Highway6
Link to post
Share on other sites

I hadn't been by there in a while, glad to see John finished his next door unit.

Nope. This is Katie's doing.

This seems less a problem in site layout and more an exercise in Fences and Neighbor Relations.

Without actually knowing the details of your site like its orientation, I would say one simple solution would be to just build yourself a 10-12' CMU wall at the the easement perimeter. Then place your ISBU against the inside of the south wall so the side of your ISBU that has all the glazing faces north. There might be cheaper alternatives, but nothing says "Stay Out" like cold hard concrete. You could use weathered steel to make your vehicle and pedestrian access gate.. like this.

A moat and a layer of this wouldn't hurt either.

A fence taller than 8' is a structure requiring a permit, triggering the easement problem. And remember that the lot has an easement at 25' from its 50-foot frontage (which is the traditional 'front yard'). That's half the land area, by itself, that is left exposed to view and/or public intrusion. I had in mind something more of a compound.

And since the maximum allowable fence is only 8 feet, the big problems to solve are 1) designing a multi-layer perimeter defense incorporating vegetation of one or multiple varieties, and 2) a secure means of vehicular access that is not a chink in the armor.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Bamboo forest perimeter, reaches to 25 ft. Might grow slowly, unsure of mature transplant opportunities.

You beat me to it... Bamboo grows quickly, and if planted dense enough, would provide privacy and some protection from unwanted outsiders with no permit required.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Bamboo forest perimeter, reaches to 25 ft. Might grow slowly, unsure of mature transplant opportunities.

I was kind of thinking of a bamboo hedge, myself, perhaps backed by a thorny vine or shrub behind it so that someone trying to hop the fence and then force his way through the bamboo would be met with impenetrable thorns. Also, hopefully the leaves of the thorny plant would block any visibility through the bamboo stalks. A question remains in my mind, which is whether the two plant species would get along or whether one would dominate the other.

Alternatively, I could use a thick bamboo hedge (but how thick?) backed by a frame of rebar welded into λ-shaped frame (sitting upon the ground, not fixed in place), where on the left side of the λ shape, concertina razor wire is strung at three height levels and suspended adjacent to the bamboo. That'd be effective.

But what to do about vehicular access? It still seems like a chink in the armor.

EDIT: See below. Imagine forcing your way through bamboo, just to run into this contraption!

Typical_Fencing_Drawings_03.jpg

Edited by TheNiche
Link to post
Share on other sites

Alternatively, I could use a thick bamboo hedge (but how thick?) backed by a frame of rebar welded into λ-shaped frame (sitting upon the ground, not fixed in place), where on the left side of the λ shape, concertina razor wire is strung at three height levels and suspended adjacent to the bamboo. That'd be effective.

This made me lol. Nice.

btw, do you think a storage container house would resell well...in the suburbs?

Edited by lockmat
Link to post
Share on other sites

This made me lol. Nice.

You think I'm kidding around, don't you? :huh:

Ok, only a little. But not about what you're laughing about. And even then, all I'm doing is obscuring the property of my interest by providing a little strategic misinformation.

btw, do you think a storage container house would resell well...in the suburbs?

No. Manufactured housing is not permitted within the City of Houston, but it fills that price niche (and even more cost-effectively) in unincorporated areas.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You think I'm kidding around, don't you? :huh:

Ok, only a little. But not about what you're laughing about. And even then, all I'm doing is obscuring the property of my interest by providing a little strategic misinformation.

No, what made it so funny was because I knew you were serious, haha

Was that a yes to the suburbs? Spring/Woodlands area is not in the CoH; or do these areas still have to comply with CoH building regulations?

Edited by lockmat
Link to post
Share on other sites

Imagine that you own a well-located corner lot (50' x 100'), and you really like the location and neighborhood (in general). You got it owner-financed on terms that a bank would never have given, so you wouldn't be inclined to flip it for a better lot. ...but there's a known heroin house two doors down and a bar that is two blocks over which attracts a rough crowd.

You decide to build and live in this (2) (3). My preference is something less fru-fru, but details are unimportant. It's the shape/size/configuration that is relevant.

Your motivation is to preserve your open space, but at the same time shut it off from the world. You neither desire that passers-by know what is behind your fence or that they might be tempted to trespass to find out.

Site configuration is entirely up to you, however easements prevent you from placing any structure within 25 feet of the 50-foot bit frontage or within 10 feet of the 100-foot frontage. Also, a six-foot tall solid iron fence with spikes on top already wraps the entire property.

Begin.

Sounds like it's time for a field trip.

When I was in Juarez, I saw plenty of homes in the situation you describe: People of means inside, people of lesser means and possibly with ill intentions outside. There were many creative ways this was accomplished, and right in the heart of the city. I don't know if any of the border towns closer to Houston would provide similar study material, but if you've ever looked for an excuse to drive across the desert of West Texas, here it is.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just build a horizontal board (for looks) 8' cypress fence fronted by "the 2 Ps"; prickly pear in front then pyracantha. Thorns are a good deterent. Then if they get over that, have some roses on the inside for color... :ph34r:

That's too expensive for being so easy to defeat. I'd use plywood instead because it is less expensive and doesn't provide footholds. And even then...all it would take is a ladder and some used carpet, and a motivated intruder would be up and over the thorns.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like it's time for a field trip.

When I was in Juarez, I saw plenty of homes in the situation you describe: People of means inside, people of lesser means and possibly with ill intentions outside. There were many creative ways this was accomplished, and right in the heart of the city. I don't know if any of the border towns closer to Houston would provide similar study material, but if you've ever looked for an excuse to drive across the desert of West Texas, here it is.

West Texas is its own reason to drive to west Texas. As for Juarez, among the most dangerous cities in the world, I don't doubt that inspiration might be found there. I'd just rather find out about it from this side of the border.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think vegetation works better as a visual barrier than a physical one. And using it as the outside layer, that doesn't exactly convey your "I'm a fortress, Keep Out" message.

I say go with an under 8' CMU wall as your outer layer with tall vegetation, perhaps bamboo, as the next layer in. If you could put some sort of natural berm or stepped site between the ROW and your wall, that would raise the height even more. Take a look at Zemanek's house.

Another plan.. go with the taller walls at the easement, but in conjunction with your secure access issue, give over 1/4 of the site, outside the 25' easement to a secure paved carpark area with a secondary shorter wall, as described above, and a solid gate. Add in a basketball goal or a tennis wall and all is not wasted.

You could always try applying for a variance like i assume this guy did

Link to post
Share on other sites

This fantasy is hereby concluded, as it turns out that I have no interest in acquiring the property. Thank you all for playing.

Had this turned out to be an actual dilemma, I would've kept the existing iron fence, planted a bamboo wall behind it, and then used the multi-tiered wall of razor wire as my inside perimeter.

Edited by TheNiche
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think vegetation works better as a visual barrier than a physical one. And using it as the outside layer, that doesn't exactly convey your "I'm a fortress, Keep Out" message.

I say go with an under 8' CMU wall as your outer layer with tall vegetation, perhaps bamboo, as the next layer in. If you could put some sort of natural berm or stepped site between the ROW and your wall, that would raise the height even more. Take a look at Zemanek's house.

Another plan.. go with the taller walls at the easement, but in conjunction with your secure access issue, give over 1/4 of the site, outside the 25' easement to a secure paved carpark area with a secondary shorter wall, as described above, and a solid gate. Add in a basketball goal or a tennis wall and all is not wasted.

You could always try applying for a variance like i assume this guy did

I've seen a dense bamboo planting as a barrier, and it's definitely impossible to get past with 6-8 inches between each stalk (right word?). And remember Age of Empires? You can't walk through that junk!

Link to post
Share on other sites

This fantasy is hereby concluded, as it turns out that I have no interest in acquiring the property. Thank you all for playing.

Had this turned out to be an actual dilemma, I would've kept the existing iron fence, planted a bamboo wall behind it, and then used the multi-tiered wall of razor wire as my inside perimeter.

A friend of mine has razor wire below the top of the fence on his place in a bad part of town. From time to time he finds pieces of clothes and blood on the wire. He only needs a siungle row at the top, low enough to be invisible from outside. The fence is chain link with a wood covering on the outside.

Link to post
Share on other sites

West Texas is its own reason to drive to west Texas. As for Juarez, among the most dangerous cities in the world, I don't doubt that inspiration might be found there. I'd just rather find out about it from this side of the border.

If a doughy white boy like me can survive a day in Juarez, I think an Internet Tough Guy™ like you should have no problems.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

If a doughy white boy like me can survive a day in Juarez, I think an Internet Tough Guy™ like you should have no problems.

Rule number one for being a successful Internet Tough Guy is to pick your battles. You can't brag about your triumphs (or even lie about your defeats) if you're dead. Thus, my strategy for dealing with trespasses against me is primarily to deter them and only secondarily to defeat them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This fantasy is hereby concluded, as it turns out that I have no interest in acquiring the property. Thank you all for playing.

Had this turned out to be an actual dilemma, I would've kept the existing iron fence, planted a bamboo wall behind it, and then used the multi-tiered wall of razor wire as my inside perimeter.

I would agree with the solution. a fence says stay the F out, bamboo is pleasing to look at from the inside, and you could have strung razor wire through the bamboo grove, rather than on the borders of it. The access gate would have been the big hole, but I think razor wire looped around the top would have been applicable as a deterrent. Combine a dog or two that are territorial and a lot of outdoor lighting that is triggered by motion, and you'd have been set for keeping them off the property.

As a second line of defense, building a fully enclosed garage under the house (I'm imagining the garage door would be the only in/out and very industrial), and extending the upper patio area, coupled with access to the stairs only accessible from within the garage. obviously for fire escapes, rope ladders would need to be installed. additionally, you'd want to enclose the stairway so that it couldn't easily be climbed unless they had access to the garage.

If you still wanted a lower level patio area, use plastic furniture from Walmart or whatever, store the grill/yard tools in the garage.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I would agree with the solution. a fence says stay the F out, bamboo is pleasing to look at from the inside, and you could have strung razor wire through the bamboo grove, rather than on the borders of it. The access gate would have been the big hole, but I think razor wire looped around the top would have been applicable as a deterrent. Combine a dog or two that are territorial and a lot of outdoor lighting that is triggered by motion, and you'd have been set for keeping them off the property.

As a second line of defense, building a fully enclosed garage under the house (I'm imagining the garage door would be the only in/out and very industrial), and extending the upper patio area, coupled with access to the stairs only accessible from within the garage. obviously for fire escapes, rope ladders would need to be installed. additionally, you'd want to enclose the stairway so that it couldn't easily be climbed unless they had access to the garage.

If you still wanted a lower level patio area, use plastic furniture from Walmart or whatever, store the grill/yard tools in the garage.

In the real-world scenario, there was no setback along one street. I would've built a zero-setback ten-foot-wide structure with garage doors on either end, and would've used it like an airlock, where only one door could ever possibly been open at any given point in time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...