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Creating Spaces: How to deal with immovable barriers


When planning an addition, one must be aware of all the issues on the property. Beyond the setback requirements, there are  barriers such as septic fields and tanks, wells, and utilities.

Some of these can be moved, but there usually is a high cost. The idea is to design around these problems without sacrificing the function of a needed addition.


This ranch-style house had the kitchen (A) in one corner of the home and a detached garage (B) and parking on the other side.

The front door (not shown) was the only door used. The side door (C) near the kitchen didn’t lead to anything.

The homeowners wanted to build an attached garage on the kitchen side of the house but felt it was impossible because of the location of an existing well (D).


Their thinking was right — a garage on the kitchen side of the house would be ideal. At the same time, a family entry was needed.

We decided to add 10 feet (E) off the kitchen — with the bonus of a laundry room (F) and a spacious family entry (G) in front of that. This moved the layout for the new garage (H) forward enough to avoid the well (D).

The new plan brings life to this side of the house. A wide opening to the new entry (I) shares natural light from the glass door (J) and the window. It also invites people out to a landscaped grill terrace (K).

This is a new entertaining space, is used for cooking and eating outdoors and offers the view (L) of the rear yard.

The total package is much more than just a garage; it greatly improves the functionality of this house.

Marcia Lyon is a professional remodeling designer and freelance writer, producing projects in Western New York and across the U.S. and Canada. Reach her by email: or call 515-991-1300.

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