Tax/Zoning Policy and Architecture

This article got me thinking about how tax policy and and zoning laws shape not just the density and mix of uses, but can have a profound impact on the form our buildings take.

Do y’all see ways that our policies might be shaping unique outcomes in our city?

In my neighborhood, lots of houses have a huge attic room that is easily converted into a bedroom or family room. This is due to the current restriction of 2 stories for a SFH. The attic room must be below a certain ratio of sqft to the first two floors, and we get lots of houses with very steep, very tall roof lines.


Hi Dwight, are these new houses or old ones?

I’m thinking of new houses on tear-down lots in the Midtown area. I’m not sure if its policy or market driven, but most of the old houses built in the 60s have a standard attic that is not a living space. New houses in the area almost always have finished space up top.

Got Ya, we have very few new houses over here in East Raleigh. I can think of ~7 built since 2005 ish. I live in one of the 4 that are 2 stories, and maybe they are what you are talking about. The second story is mostly covered by roofing with a big dormer that doesn’t feel like an attic from the inside? There are 3 single story houses that were built, which don’t look like they have live in attics. Here is the latest 817 N King Charles Rd, 817 N King Charles Rd, Raleigh, NC 27610 | Zillow

But, we have loads of remodels and flips. There are 8 around me that are being flipped right now. It is interesting to see which ones do additions or just remodel and sell. I thought this one was neat 2343 Stevens Rd. Was a 1300 sqft single story. They kept the front facade, stripped to bones, and are building back with a second story. Should look really nice and have more space. You can’t see it from these views, but they saved the old chimney which is cool.

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Hey Dwight, I was thinking about the ADU options that are moving at a glacial pace through city council, and one thing that made me think of this is the “1 and 1/2 story options”. The proposal was for a 15’ setback from side and back property for that, and

“20.5’ total/12’ sidewall (habitable space on second level cannot exceed 50% of floor area).”

Wouldn’t this incentivise me to build a “barn style” roof, to help have more headroom/maximizing interior space and keep within a 12" sidewall?

I just saw this new video from Strong Towns about a Tax Assesment Investigation that has been done in Asheville, NC which was really facinating.

They essentially find that homes under ~$300,000 are over assessed for tax purposes while really expensive homes are all under assessed for tax purposes.

Something I have noticed (which would be good to have others track) is that the people who come to speak against lots of the latest rezonings seem to mostly be owners of houses that are assessed way under current market value. It got me thinking that it would be an interesting project to track the difference in current values of those who speak against upzoinings to see how many affordable unites we could build each year by just taxing those people at their current home values :laughing: .