The role of narrow house plans in urban design cannot be understated in today’s urban environment. The prevalence of narrow house plans in every new town and growing city worldwide shows that many development plans within these cities adopt a more sympathetic view towards their application in many situations.

The value of narrow house plans in home design

narrow house plans in KenyaThe use of these types of house designs is made inevitable right from the stage of urban planning at the point of plot subdivision. Rectangular larger plots often commandeer better plot values depending on the prevailing plot configuration, with much available plot subdivision favoring use of a more elongated plot shape, which in turn results in the development of narrow house plans.

What leads to narrow house plans on narrow lots?

Many land dealers often sell their properties in configurations which range from a tenth of an acre to as much as full acres. These plots are often divided into modules such as 30×60 feet, 40x80feet, 50x100feet and so on. A 50×100 foot plot gives about an eighth of an acre in area. These elongated rectangular configurations on plots lend a particular orientation to the narrow house plans that are to be constructed on them.

In addition, for smaller properties, there is a strong likelihood that the properties would abut on each other directly, as is the case in creation of row houses. Row houses that are prevalent in many neighborhoods today are perhaps one of the best examples of narrow house plans, as they are typically constructed on very tight plot sizes.

Within such neighborhoods, there is a need to have a strong sense of orientationt in the houses. This is due to the fact that most of the housing units have their houses immediately next to each other; and they do not face each other. In this regard they are often designed in a row, offering a front yard to the main access road, and a backyard which serves as the kitchen yard. For these fully attached houses, there is little option but to orient the openings to either the front and to the back, and not the sides. This is a major design feat in itself, and architects designing narrow house plans are often forced to design spaces back to back, rather than around a circulation space.

The challenges of building narrow house plans

Narrow house plans offer significant challenges with regard to how they are serviced. In addition to the challenges faced due to their very directional access from one side, there is a challenge that is often posed with regard to servicing spaces that might be on the leeward side of the building from where its access road is located. This means that having ancillary spaces such as servant quarters , wet areas and kitchen yards on the rear can pose a design challenge if these are to be accessed and serviced from the frontage. Many areas have their building services such as sewerage and storm drainage contained within their access road reserve.

When posed with these kind of challenges, planners of such estates having narrow house plans need to provide means of access to these services.  This scenario may be exacerbated with the creation of plot lots which are adjacent to one another and are back to back with each other as is often the case. The solution in that case is to provide for a wayleave at the rear of the units for the provision of running service conduits. These can be enclosed within the plots as long as an encumbrance is placed on the property owner that this area of their plot holds public utilities and should not be constructed on.

The other alternative for providing narrow house plans on narrow lots with services off the main access road is to provide simple pedestrian service access routes at the back. These can be handy for buried service infrastructure, as well as providing rear access for residents. The weakness of this system is that the rear access routes so proposed may end up becoming security risks for residents through unauthorized access from a back route.

Narrow house plans have their advantages too

Development of narrow house plans on narrow lots can offer the advantage of creating many units on a relatively small amount of space. This can have its advantages when dealing with a commercial development for sale. However, developers need to take into cognizance the needs of their target market with regard to their spatial requirements and their spending patterns. Luxury units had better have larger plinth and plot areas available, and a development of many narrow house plans may be unsuitable. However for middle income target market, this type of units can easily find a good market.


That being said, the place of medium density residentials in provision of affordable housing to the society is assured. Narrow house plans provide this very well.