• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Should it count as lot coverage?

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,174
Points
51
We have a situation that has sparked a bit of discussion in our office. It all deals with pergolas. We (although I don’t agree) consider them to be a structure, and lot coverage when they are attached to a house and need to conform to building setbacks. Yet decks and balconies have reduced regulations, and are not considered for lot coverage. Our ordinance limits lot coverage to 25%. I know of several cases where people have walk out basements along the lakes here, and the 1st floor has a balcony deck with a patio underneath. We give it the same regulations as regular decks (reduces the rear yard set back 10 feet, and not considered lot coverage). Yet, it was just a pergola above the patio, the pergola needs to conform to the regular building setbacks and is counted into lot coverage even though it is more open than a deck. I just don’t get it....

What are your thoughts? I will try to get some pictures to show you what I am talking about.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
Been there done that. Counted them as part of "deck" at reduced regs.
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
I would say reduced regulations also.

Some jurisdictions here count 50% of the area of any deck, patio, pergola, lanai, etc. toward lot coverage.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,174
Points
51
Well, we had a staff meeting this morning and our supervisor said that this is just how it is because of a 1978 ZBA decision. Our city is broken into 3 gographical sections for code enforcement. The section that I have (1/2 the city area and second dencest area behind masters...) has all the lakes. Let me just say that I am going to be the one that residents are going to get mad at. I would love to see it go back to the ZBA.
 

The One

Cyburbian
Messages
8,289
Points
30
Covered patio

Most of the jurisdictions I've worked in have been concerned with two things related to your issue:

1. Building coverage as it relates to mass and scale of the structure on the lot. Aesthetics of covering too much of the lot. (& Consistent Architecture)

2. Concern about increasing the run-off coefficient from each lot during a rainfall event and the corresponding effect that might have on the local drainage patterns. (Increased concrete patio area or building coverage creates a greater amount of run-off in the neighborhood (x200 or 300+ for whole subdivision- can make a major difference) A way of protecting the original drainage design for a neighborhood.

While the pergola itself may not create much more run-off and may even add to the appearence of the lot, the patio beneath will add to run-off. They tend to be considered a "structure" and require a permit. Sometimes they are attached to a home and sometimes they are detached.....on larger lots.... Whether or not they are considered for relaxed setbacks is up to the jurisdiction. Anyway, its a call made by staff, building code & community leaders.
 

solarstar

Cyburbian
Messages
207
Points
9
We would definitely count it as ISR. The only thing exempt are decks (uncovered), boardwalks, etc. with minimum 1/2-inch spacing so that rainwater can flow through. (Drainage is a huge problem here).
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,174
Points
51
solarstar said:
We would definitely count it as ISR. The only thing exempt are decks (uncovered), boardwalks, etc. with minimum 1/2-inch spacing so that rainwater can flow through. (Drainage is a huge problem here).
What about decks on a second floor with a patio below it? Would the deck count then?
 

solarstar

Cyburbian
Messages
207
Points
9
michaelskis said:
What about decks on a second floor with a patio below it? Would the deck count then?
Yes, since the patio is impervious and would be with or without a deck over it. If they put dirt underneath, and put 1/2 inch spacing on the deck, then it would be pervious. I've been informed by the building plans examiners that 1/2 inch isn't exactly the safest thing, but its the builders' choice on that. We're a bit strict about ISR, and even include A/C pads, trash can pads, etc. in ISR calcs since some of them are just plain huge.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
what on earth is a pergola?

EDIT: okay I googled it. It should only count if it is above impervious surface.
 
Top