Lake House Zoning Considerations - featured image

Before you can begin construction of your new lake house, you must apply for a building permit. The requirements for the building permit include submitting a site plan and having a land use permit. Both of which require complying with local zoning ordinances.

It should be noted that zoning ordinances vary by each township and their interpretation can be difficult. This is why it is important to fully research the ordinances and anticipate how they may apply to your situation. Also note that zoning may apply differently to existing structures versus new construction.

Building a waterfront or lakeshore home means paying special attention to specific zoning rules that govern bodies of water, streams and wetlands. This is important to understand before applying for site plan and building permits. Lakeshore Custom Homes has years of experience and we can guide you through this process and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Why Zoning?

Zoning ordinances are intended to regulate land use for the greater good of the community.

Local zoning ordinances define what use is allowable. Zoning laws also help assure that homes will be built in compliance with the Michigan State Construction Code and the Department of Public Health.

Zoning defines what are approved uses as well as describing non-buildable areas and non-conforming uses.

Understanding the zoning for a parcel of land is important especially before purchasing the land so that your intended use doesn’t conflict with the ordinance. You can petition for a variance but that can be challenging.

Examples of zoning that affects building a Lakehouse

  • Setbacks are common requirements to all new home construction, but bodies of water create special rules that need to be factored into your site design.
  • Townships, such as Frankfort, Empire, Leland, or Suttons Bay for example, with Lake Michigan frontage will also define the Waterfront Setback Datum.
  • Boat houses are usually regulated by zoning ordinances. For example, Glen Arbor township restricts the number of stories and height of boathouses but makes no setback restrictions regarding shoreline.
  • Docks, shoreline retaining walls, and dredging all fall under zoning ordinances as well.
  • Lake Access easement is another consideration when planning to build a lakefront home. Flood insurance requirements are outlined by most townships.
  • Lot coverage, or the amount of area that your home will occupy, is another definition that you need to be mindful of when planning your new home and any other structures. Sometimes lots, especially smaller ones, may not accommodate the floorplan that you have in mind.
  • Of special note to building in Northern Michigan are the Michigan Wetlands Protection Act, the Shorelands Protection and Management Act, and the Michigan Sand Dunes Protection and Management Act. We are well versed in complying with each of these and can advise you if your property is affected by these laws.

Lakeshore Custom Homes pays attention to all the details that make for an extraordinary home. Our attention to these details helps make your home building experience less stressful and more enjoyable.

Call us today to begin your home building journey. We’ll be with you every step of the way to guide you to the perfect home.

Lake Home Site Selection Tips - featured image

A home on the lake is dream for many. In your mind you envision the perfect spot, the perfect lake or stream, summer days filled with rest, relaxation, beautiful sunrises or sunsets. A place to retreat from the stresses of daily life. The last thing that you want is a poorly chosen or planned home site.

Lakeshore Custom Homes specializes in waterfront custom homes and we have plenty of experience to help assist you in building the perfect waterfront home that you’ll enjoy for years to come. Let our experience guide you to the perfect new home in Northern Michigan.

When looking for the perfect waterfront property, consider the following major factors:

View
A big part of owning a waterfront home is the satisfaction of an amazing view of the water! Does the property have an adequate view of the water?

Sun
Where will the sun rise and set?  Consider how the sun will fall throughout the day. This can help you determine the orientation of your home. You will want to consider how this will affect the ideal location of decks, awnings, the size and placement of windows, landscaping, etc.

Water
How will you access your lake or other body of water? How accessible is it? Will you need stairs? Is your lake an “All Access” lake or are motorboats prohibited? Will you need retention walls or other erosion control? What is the historic high-water mark and how might that affect things in the future? How do the seasons affect the water levels? Are there any dams that control the water level? (Lake Leelanau and Lower Herring lake are both managed by dams.)

What’s the water table like? Will you need a sump pump or special septic system? Is a public sewer service available?

Is your beach area swimmable? Is the bottom sandy or rocky?

Wind
What’s the prevailing wind like? Will breezes affect your enjoyment of your property? Will you want a wind break or landscaping to manage it?

Trees and Landscaping
Do any trees affect the view of the lake? Will this change over time? Will tree roots pose a threat to septic systems or the house foundation in the future? What landscaping might you wish to add? Do you want additional privacy, wind protection, possibly add trees or shrubs to manage snow drifts in the winter?

Lake or Homeowner Associations
Associations may sometime add additional restriction beyond local zoning ordinances. Will the association rules conflict with your personal enjoyment of the water and your home? Associations, while sometimes restrictive, are often useful in maintaining lakes and implementing improvements by allowing members to combine resources.

Privacy and Noise
A busy lake with lot of boat traffic may not offer the privacy you desire. Noise may be a problem as well. Lake Michigan’s beaches are public property (up to the high-water mark) and you’ll likely have people strolling the beaches. Private lakes offer more control over the beaches, but you still may have boaters to deal with.

Are you ready to make your lake house dream a reality?

Contact us today to make an appointment to discuss your home building plans.