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How does one determine a rear building line along an alleyway for a residential lot in the Montrose Neighborhood of Houston?  The alleyway is 16' wide.  The project calls for an addition onto an existing residence.  No deed restrictions have been found.  The Survey that we had performed turned up nothing.  Calls to the City of Houston planners have been unsuccessful (no responses).  Does anyone have any ideas about how to determine this rear building line in regards to a building addition to the main house?

 

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On 9/23/2020 at 5:57 PM, Zahir said:

How does one determine a rear building line along an alleyway for a residential lot in the Montrose Neighborhood of Houston?  The alleyway is 16' wide.  The project calls for an addition onto an existing residence.  No deed restrictions have been found.  The Survey that we had performed turned up nothing.  Calls to the City of Houston planners have been unsuccessful (no responses).  Does anyone have any ideas about how to determine this rear building line in regards to a building addition to the main house?

 

You need a better survey or surveyor. Did the survey involve a trip to the county to look at old title transfer records? Those may have that information. At least it may turn up utility easements which are very important in determining where NOT to build. If you are planning to build, or add on to an existing building, a simple metes and bounds survey is not sufficient. The survey needs to show clearly all easements and setbacks else you risk making an expensive mistake.

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On 9/23/2020 at 5:57 PM, Zahir said:

How does one determine a rear building line along an alleyway for a residential lot in the Montrose Neighborhood of Houston?  The alleyway is 16' wide.  The project calls for an addition onto an existing residence.  No deed restrictions have been found.  The Survey that we had performed turned up nothing.  Calls to the City of Houston planners have been unsuccessful (no responses).  Does anyone have any ideas about how to determine this rear building line in regards to a building addition to the main house?

 

What was the number you were calling for the planning department, if I may ask? Odd that you didn't even get an answer to the phone.

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The surveyor was B&B surveying and we contracted them to perform both a standard land survey and a topographic survey.  We provided our research to them, meaning the owner's title documents and any deed restrictions found therein, which were none.  We also had the owner do a title abstract which researched the lot back about 100 years.  No restrictions were found for the rear property line in that process either.  In researching the city ordinances, we also found the lot was in a Special Building Line district which is how we determined the front yard setback.  Side yard setbacks were established through talking on the phone a planner.  i could never find anything in writing but they assured me that side yards are 3'.  None of our research turned up anything for side yard building lines either, but the surveyor also confirmed that 3' was correct for this neighborhood.  We didn't think at the beginning of the project that an ALTA level survey was necessary.  We thought these things would be revealed through research and dialogue with the city.  i received an email from the city saying explicitly that it is not their responsibility to assist us with discovering this information, only reviewing it, which implies they know the answer but still want us to find it ourselves.  they suggested our surveyor would be able to find the information.  they also suggested we contact the traffic division to assess the status of the alleyway and that this may have some bearing on the building line.  those calls and emails remain unanswered.  I have been calling the number the Houston Permitting center gave me 832-394-8849.  it goes to a directory of planners.  i have called every number in the directory.  no pick ups.  left messages with those that had voice mail set up (not all did).  got one call back, but subsequent calls back have yielded nothing.  Confused as to how to proceed because as you say, this puts my client under risk, not knowing precisely where not to build.  Any ideas on how to proceed would be greatly appreciated.

 

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I think that you also need to specify whether there is going to be a garage utilizing the alley.  When I built my garage extension I learned that the minimum setback distance for a garage door is larger than for a building wall with the reasoning being that a garage door needs to be setback further in order to allow sufficient room to turn the car into the garage.  I have forgotten the number, but it is a certain number of feet from the far side of the alley to the garage.  The reason that they measure from the far side of the alley is to compensate for alleys of varying width i.e. if you have a wider alley then more of the turning can be done in the alley and less space is needed on the property.

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4 hours ago, innerloop said:

I think that you also need to specify whether there is going to be a garage utilizing the alley.  When I built my garage extension I learned that the minimum setback distance for a garage door is larger than for a building wall with the reasoning being that a garage door needs to be setback further in order to allow sufficient room to turn the car into the garage.  I have forgotten the number, but it is a certain number of feet from the far side of the alley to the garage.  The reason that they measure from the far side of the alley is to compensate for alleys of varying width i.e. if you have a wider alley then more of the turning can be done in the alley and less space is needed on the property.

Thank you innerloop.  yes, i had heard about this.  i believe it is 15' for a 16' alleyway.  We actually aren't putting a garage back there as the alley way doesn't seem to be maintained and doesn't even go through the whole block anymore.  We just want to extend the house.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
14 hours ago, innerlooper said:

 

Curious - Does this mean I can build a garage off the alley that is right on the alley if there is no neighboring garage behind it? That would be cool.

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