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Thread: Minimum residential unit size

  1. #1
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Minimum residential unit size

    We have a substantial turn of the century warehouse area which is on the verge of becoming a mixed use district. Property owners have expressed concern in the area about residential unit density. Although they would like to create a good number of units in their warehouse buildings, they want to prevent single-room occupancy type uses. They are proposing a minimum unit size of around 500-600 square feet.

    I'm interested if other communities have similar regulations. I'm most interested in communities who have these minimum units sizes in urban mixed-used areas.

    My warehouse area is predominately 3-6 story turn-of-the-century brick warehouses. Nearly 100% lot coverage.

    Edit: our building codes will allow as little as 300 sq ft per unit.
    Last edited by boiker; 17 Jan 2007 at 1:58 PM.
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    In Canada minimum size of a dwelling unit is regulated by the National Building Code and various provincial building codes. The definition of a dwelling unit is included in the code and pretty much leaves out SRO's from being considered a dwelling unit.

    In your instance you could amend the zoning by-law to define a dwelling unit and make sure it includes the description of enough amenities that it is of a suitable minumum size. If you place minimum sizes directly in the zoning by-law you may open yourself up for variance applciations. It is harder to "vary" a definition then it is to "vary" development standards.

    In some areas the minimum size and dimensions of dwelling units and the strucuture associated with them are regulated to prevent mobile homes and trailers being used for dwelling units.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  3. #3
    Cyburbian solarstar's avatar
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    We have a minimum based on building codes that is 600 sf (living area). Totally rules out things like the Katrina cottages, or at least most of them.

  4. #4
    Our smallest unit is 400 square feet (exclusive of corridors, furnace rooms, basements, etc) plus 150 square feet per bedroom, with a note that reads "A part of the 150 sq. ft. bedroom requirement may be used for living spaces within the dwelling unit". I've never fully understood what the note meant.

    Off-topic:
    I hate notes in zoning codes. In this case, it applies to each of our five most dense residential districts (the only districts to permit mutli-family, to boot). If it's uniform, why have a note? Embody it in the regulation, dangnabbit.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Well, here it all depends upon the zoning.
    In Residential zoning districts it is not done by minimum square footage in each unit but rather minimum lot size size requirements for every unit allowed. In the least restrictive Multi-Unit Residential zoning district this translates to 400 sq. ft. of lot area per residential unit.

    In mixed use zones the size and number of units are determined by Floor Area Ratio (FAR). In one of the the most most intensive mixed used commercial zones the FAR is 6:1, and can go up to 10:1 in the downtown.

    That said, any large scale rehab in a warehouse area would most likely be done as a Specially Planned District and then there may be no minimums to speak of.

    I'm guessing that didn't help any did it?
    Last edited by biscuit; 17 Jan 2007 at 3:04 PM.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    We don't have a minimum unit size, but we do require compliance with the Uniform Housing Code. That code says that dwellings must have at least one room of not less than 120 sf (11.2 sm) of floor area, with other habitable rooms except kitchens being not less than 70 sf (6.5 sm). Where more than two persons occupy a room used for sleeping purposes the required floor area increases at a rate of 50 sf per occupant in excess of two. It allows efficiency apartments with a living room of at least 220 sf, plus 100 sf for each occupant in excess of two, and a separate bathroom.

    Why not allow efficiencies? The only purpose I can see is to keep "those people" out of the neighborhood; you know, the ones who do the work that keep the neighborhood running.

    That aside, there is a demand, even by higher income people, for small units. My wife and I live at the beach. When I was doing consulting most of my work was 100 miles away in Portland. I was looking for a place in the city for me to use as a base, and 220 sf would have been great. I couldn't find anything I was willing to live in at a reasonable price, and a smaller unit could have met my needs.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Edmonton
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    We don't have minimum apartment/flat sizes... just a minimum size for a single family detached dwelling.

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