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Unknown Dimensions Using Formulas

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Credit: Edi Hargett
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edisellstulsa/7404314130/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Why do houses in some neighborhoods have big yards, while houses in other neighborhoods have small yards? Why are lots in the city smaller than lots in the country? Local zoning boards decide what sort of homes you can build in an area. They also set a minimum lot size, or the smallest piece of land allowed for a new house.

Utilities, Character, and Property Values

When a zoning board sets a minimum lot size, they also set a minimum frontage. Frontage is the part of the yard that borders the street. Minimum frontage controls the shape of lots. For instance, imagine a neighborhood where the minimum lot size is 5,000 square feet and the minimum frontage is 250 feet. In that neighborhood, you could not build on a lot that was 10 feet wide but 500 feet long. However, you could build on a lot 500 feet long but only 10 feet wide. Frontage requirements control the appearance of streets in a neighborhood.

Credit: Matthew Rutledge
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rutlo/4528900271/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Sometimes, the zoning board sets the minimum lot size for practical reasons. Houses with septic tanks that depend on well water require a lot of land. Houses with sewers that depend on city water can be built on very small lots. Cities can also set minimum lot sizes to prevent new construction in old neighborhoods. Certain urban centers have ended the practice of dictating minimum lot sizes. These cities instead want to focus on increasing the availability of affordable housing in the face of growing population density so that more people can live where they work.

See for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXUU1vNACC0

Explore More

Watch the following videos to take a look at more examples of tiny homes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-M51iif6VE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yth_nxvyEME

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMAAWABynns

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Edi Hargett; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edisellstulsa/7404314130/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Matthew Rutledge; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rutlo/4528900271/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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