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Subject: What defines the "backyard"
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05/06/2013 11:40 AM  
We are a small 13 unit detached condo site of multi acre lots.

We have the right to build an out building up to 1600 square ft as long as they are "architecturaly compatable" to the main home.

So far no issue with the "architecturaly compatable" portion.

Also a note, there is one home that has a second garage that faces the garage attached to the primary residence and there is roofing that connectes everything together, sort of has a tunnel through the building. More on this in a second.

The by laws state that the out building has to be in the "backyard" but gives no detail on what defines "backyard".

#1 One homeowner states backyard is defined as lines parallel to the sides of the residence reaward, like a shadow.
#2 Another homeowner states the back yard is defined by a line along the front of the house rearward, so a building on the side would be acceptable.

A third states that the home described about has set the standard for definition #2 since that outbuilding, connected or not to the main building, is clearly not in the shadow of the primary building.

Very interested in any comments. If anybody has any actual definitions in their by laws, that wording would be helpful.


05/06/2013 12:01 PM  
Look at your survey. See if it shows limited common areas specific to each unit. That will clearly show the "back" yard and options for placing the shed.
(South Carolina)


05/06/2013 12:43 PM  
While I do not have your answer, I can add something. One HOA I was in said "backyards" could be fenced in. The definition of the backyard was all property up to the back edge of the house. There could be an exception for going forward from the back edge of your house to line up with the rear edge of adjacent home. This was so fences between the houses would line up.

Later when we allowed garden type sheds we said the shed had to be in an area defined as rear of the back edge of the house and within the side edges of the house back to the rear of the property. This meant if you stood in front of the house, no matter how far away from the front of the house, you could not see the shed. This sounds like the shadow comment.

Not sure if the helps any.



05/06/2013 12:49 PM  
We define the rear yard as a line starting along the back of the house (that side not facing the street) rearward (away from the street).


05/06/2013 2:58 PM  
Marg - I'm just curious about why you define your situation as a "condo site of multi acre lots". This may be something unique to your state. Here in Florida, if it were a condo, the area outside would all be considered common ground. It is interesting to hear other state's take on things.


05/09/2013 6:46 PM  

In Michigan, it's easier (for whatever reason) for a developer to build "site condos" under PUD rules than it is to build single-family detached homes. What's the difference? There isn't any. I'm in such a HOA. I own the 1+ acre of land that my house sits on. Common elements are "natural" areas that are defined in our documents. Generally that "open" space needs to be a certain percentage of the total to meet the PUD/condo rules. It often allows higher lot densities in exchange for preserving some elements. But for all intents and purposes, they're lots with houses that happen to be in an HOA.

The "backyard" quandry is amusing, because we have similar language in our documents pertaining to usage in side yards, such as that a basketball net may be permanently installed in a side yard, but not attached to the house.

A lot with a house is a pound sign # with the house in the middle and lines drawn parallel to the sides of the house. Is the front everything on the street side of the front door, lot line to lot line? Then the backyard is likewise lot line to lot line side to side, and from the back door back. Or are the side yards drawn from front lot line to rear lot line? I think the former, but in reality, it's whatever definition matches the bias of the person doing the arguing.

I would love to see a legal definition though.
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