Sunday, April 08, 2007

Is FAR Better or Worse?

From The Record:
A tactic being used by some municipalities to curb the building of McMansions could wind up hurting modest home expansions such as enlarging a kitchen or adding a bathroom.

More and more towns are turning to the "floor area ratio," a formula that caps a home's living space. Within the last year, Fair Lawn, River Edge, Wayne and Tenafly have adopted or considered adopting ordinances that use the ratio to create more stringent building limits.

The tool takes into account all livable space -- including basements, second floors and garages -- not just the footprint of a building.
This means that everyone -- from the developer interested in knocking down an existing home to the homeowner seeking an addition -- could be limited by the formula.
Any building plans have to fit a calculation which divides the square footage of the house by the area of the lot. If expansion plans exceed the allowed ratio, then a variance would be required. What constitutes "livable space" is decided by the municipality.

In the eyes of elected officials, the limit isn't a burden. It's a way to stop massive homes from being built on lots designed for smaller residences, a phenomenon that officials say is ravaging the character of their communities.
Some homeowners are pushing back, worried that the limitations could affect their property values....

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