Psst … want to buy some unused square footage?
Boulder considers limiting the size of new houses
With new homes in Boulder County averaging 6500 sq. ft. (vs. 2400 sq. ft. nationally), Boulder, Colo., is considering limiting the size of new (and future) houses through voluntary developmentrights transfers (DRTs). The DRTs would be encouraged through a one-time payment and reduced yearly tax assessments.
The county planners see this program as one way to retain the rural character of Boulder County while also allowing development flexibility. According to Michelle Krezek, Boulder County land-use manager, the commissioners “want to allow property owners who either have or want smaller-scale homes to be able to sell a portion of their ‘unused’ square footage” to people who want to build houses larger than the maximum permissible size (4500 sq. ft. on the plains or 3000 sq. ft. in the mountains).
Some 2007 Boulder housing stats
• Of the 35 permits issued for homes in the plains, 25 exceeded 6500 sq. ft.
• Of the 15 permits issued for homes in the mountains, 2 exceeded 4500 sq. ft.
The county contracted with Clarion Associates, a land-use consulting firm, to study the program’s financial viability, or whether there would be enough people to sell development rights to those who want monster houses. “In terms of supply and demand, you wind up with a slight oversupply, which can actually create liquidity in the market,” says consultant Don Elliot of Clarion Associates.
But Elliot says that he’s “not losing any sleep over it.” The more-challenging problem is placing a value on the development rights. “There’s not a lot of precedent in this area,” he says. “There are only a few programs in the country that operate on a square-foot basis.” The range of possible values cited in the study was from $3000 to $12,000 to add an extra 450 sq. ft. to houses built on the plains, or 300 sq. ft. to houses built in the mountains.
While the study also said that the program might lower some property values, land-use planners say the program will help people who want to buy smaller houses.