Why Most Houses in Park City Look The Same

January 22nd, 2010 by KTU | Filed under 1. Planning and Design.

Many of the custom homes in Park City look kind of the same to me. One reason for this is the highly restrictive covenants that most homeowners’ associations have adopted. Almost all new construction in Park City (and in the West generally) is in a subdivision, which usually has a homeowners’ association. In Park City, during the boom period of 2000-2010, subdivisions sprang up like weeds. Each developer basically copied-and-pasted the CC&Rs of some other subdivision (CC&R = codes, covenants, and restrictions). These CC&Rs are really detailed and often highly restrictive. For example, they specify exactly what roofing materials may be used, the range of roof pitches that are allowed, and explicitly outlaw certain design elements. Combine these CC&Rs with fairly homogeneous suburban tastes, and a few stylistic trends, and you end up with houses that could be cousins if not siblings. Here’s an example.

Archetypal custom home in a Park City subdivision

More specifically, the archetypal Park City house has these elements:

  • 4′ high stone veneer at the base (certain amount of stone required in CC&Rs),
  • staggered facade with gables over each protrusion (CC&Rs do not allow uninterrupted walls),
  • complex roofs, with fairly shallow pitch, and lots of valleys (maximum height restrictions, and maximum uninterrupted ridge lengths),
  • some combination of stucco, board-and-batten, or shingle siding above the stone base (CC&Rs),
  • three garages (the American way),
  • single-level living (but usually with a big lower level as a bonus…why climb stairs?),
  • arch-topped windows (current style trend),
  • timber or log columns (current style trend).

Don’t get me wrong. These are very nice houses. They are comfortable, roomy, and easy to live in. But, I’m a modernist and like to think of myself as an iconoclast. I also wanted to build an affordable house with lots of light, very little maintenance, excellent snow handling capabilities, and nice views. I did not believe the standard Park City style was going to deliver on those needs.


6 Responses to “Why Most Houses in Park City Look The Same”

  1. J says:

    Very true! Why did you choose Park City over Jackson Hole or Sun Valley? Just curious as to what attracted you to that particular area from the East.

  2. J says:

    Also, your house looks like it’s in a residential area…is it in a subdivision? And if so, did you have to deal with a homeowners association or covenants as well?

    I’ve seen some pictures of some other homes near your house and I’m just curious as to the overall reaction from your neighbors? Do they like the design of your house or do they view it as something that degrades their property values? After all, subdivisions make it pretty hard to build progressive architecture and one of the main reasons is to maintain this notion of property values that is achieved when everyone builds a similar cabin mcmansion made of logs and stone.

  3. KTU says:

    My primary home is Philadelphia. I can take the 7:15am delta flight to slc and be at my house at 11am (mountain time). No other site in the Rockies is as easy to get to. Also, Utah Has spectacular variation in recreation, including canyoneering, which I like a lot. SLC is also a pretty nice metro area for amenities. Hard to beat all around.

  4. KTU says:

    I got lucky in that our subdivision was essentially defunct, as the developer was bankrupt and had been indicted. So it was just me and an intrepid homeowner. We were the homeowners association and architectural committee. I don’t think I could have built my house in a more established subdivision. Some like it, some don’t…but my neighbors were happy to have had someone invest in what had been a troubled subdivision.

  5. Chris Probert says:

    Such a small world I was looking for Metal siding ideas for my project and I found your blog and it turns out we are both in Park City. Would you mind sharing your roofing/siding source? My cell phone is 435-565-0904

  6. baubilt says:

    http://www.davekemproofing.com/

    Dave Kemp — very good contractor.

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