Respect the Neighborhood Your Way
In our article The First 5 Steps for Any Property Remodel, the fourth point is to Assess the Neighborhood. Do you have to paint your house in the pastel hues dictated by your neighbors' bad choices? (Think Edward Scissorhands' suburban setting.) You don't want to stick out as That Neighbor Everyone Hates because you don't mow the lawn or you let your dogs dig up and poop on adjacent properties. You, my friend, would never do those things. There are more subtle ways of respecting the neighborhood, however, while securing your property value and being as original as your heart desires.
ASSESS THE NEIGHBORHOOD Not only do you need to respect the existing styles, property setbacks, and scale (ex: all 1 and 2-story,) you can't price yourself out of the area. Aim for the upper edge of what is on your street or match new development within a 6-10 square block area. Imagine buyers or new tenants driving this area because they like the rent bracket or it's close to their employment. Stay in their price range but provide them one of the nicer options within it.
This is a dynamic issue, so the property should be evaluated in terms of similar properties and how the area is evolving or depreciating every few years. You can even ask appraisers for current comp properties to see where you stand and how you can plan your next phases for your property.
Here is a great example of improving a property, building new in an older section of the city, and fitting your wildly modern dream on a street with only traditional styles. Keep in mind your goals for your property and decide what fits your situation.
Respecting the neighborhood does not mean you have to copy everything about your neighbors' houses. It may mean you introduce a new style and new materials, but the proportions are similar to your neighbors. The mass of this modern cottage similar to its neighbors and so is the identical set-back from the street, however, it is the roof-line and materials that claim a unique presence in this area.
While designing and implementing your project, respecting the neighborhood is key to protecting your investment.