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Take it to the Limit!

There's many ways that the size of your new home is limited, from the the floor area to roof height. Your local Zoning Department will use many different methods to govern your home size - and it varies per City!

Let's take a look at the main ones.

Floor Area and Coverage

Floor Area is essentially a measurement of the floor space of your home. It's measured in Square Feet (SF) and there are many methods in how to calculate. It may be comprising only the habitable area inside your home, or may include the exterior walls encompassing it.

Floor Area Ratio

Floor Area Ratio (or FAR) is defined by a ratio or formula that is dependent on your Lot/Yard Size. It is the total habitable area, each story, typically measured from the exterior face of framing. It can also be described by Net Area, Usable Floor Area, Habitable Area, and Residential Floor Area.

For example, a 10,000 SF Lot with a 4:1 FAR would mean the Floor Area would be limited to 2,500 SF.

Building or Lot Coverage


Principal vs. Accessory


Setbacks and Easements

Each Lot has an amount of buildable area which is defined mainly by Setbacks and sometimes Easements. It's present on every Lot and each side and varies for the structure type and the Lot's zoning. It's there to maintain and preserve yard space between Homes, so your neighbor doesn't build right on your property line. It can also have an aesthetic goal, such as keeping neighborhoods aesthetically pleasing with aligned front porches.

Easements are secondary setbacks which prevent any structures for occurring on it. It's there to preserve space or access and includes Utility Maintenance, Drainage, or driveway and access. They can be established by your Utility Company, Building Department, or your Neighbor. All Lots will have Setbacks, but not all Lots will have Easements.


Bulk Plane and Height Limits

We've discussed Floor Area and Setbacks so let's move on to the third limit which is Height. Like all the Limits discussed, this is based on the Zoning District and if it's a Principal or Accessory Structure.

Maximum Height

As the name suggests, it's the maximum height for your home. While it can include the maximum stories or levels, it is generally the measurement from grade (ground) to the highest point of the structure.

Bulk Plane

Solar Access



Every location is different in how they limit the size of homes. Some are code-driven while others require a Planning Review to determine the maximum size. There could also be additional limits from a Home Owners Association (HOA), Covenant, or Planned Unit Developments (PUDs).

Fortunately, we're here to help! We're happy to check what limits your home or future project!

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