Boulder Homes Size Regulations

Posted by Greg Smith on Sunday, October 4th, 2009 at 8:25am.

Boulder Homes Size Regulations

What effect will the new regulations have on the City of Boulder real estate will be interesting to watch.  If the council approves the ordinance on Tuesday the regulations will go into effect as early as January 4th.  Below are outlined the new guidelines:


A floor-area ratio of .50 based on a 7,000-square-foot lot located in the RR-1, RR-1 and RL-1 zoning districts. Floor area ratio would be set at .55 for lots located in the RMX-1 zoning district.

Basements in floor-area calculations based on the percentage of a exposed perimeter walls that are more than 36 inches above grade.

Exemption for historic accessory structures, such as barns or sheds, through the Landmark Alteration Certificate.

Building coverage limited to 35 percent of a lot. Coverage would increase for smaller lots and decrease for larger ones.

Exemptions for porches up to 300 square feet on the front of a house, and up to 150 square feet for porches on the side or rear of a house.

Limits on the bulk plane, or invisible three-dimensional envelop that a house could fill.

Rules limiting side walls that are larger than 14 feet to a maximum length of 40 feet before the design must be altered.

Increasing "plan check fees" from 25 percent to 50 percent of a building permit fee.

Virtual floors, with spaces 16 feet or taller counted twice the lowest level's square footage, and the floor area of spaces 26 feet or taller counted three times the lowest level's square footage. Up to 150 square feet of a stairwell is exempt.

What effect the new regulations will pose is an unknown at this point.  The city has experienced a drastic reduction in permits since 2007 when the city had 114 permits for new homes issued and 269 permits for remodels.  In 2009 the city has 38 new home permits and 112 remodeling permits.  Based on rough calculations the city is operating at a budget loss of over $3,000,0000 since 2007 in the building and planning department.  Ouch!


It is an interesting time for the city to choose to place more restrictions in place on an already fragile market.  The new regulation will certainly cause the market to osculate while it tries to find center with the new regulations.  In the end Supply and Demand will end up to determine price no matter what the council decides.

Greg Smith

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