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Modular Home Minute® Greenwich FAR Zoning Change

Hi everyone. This is Dave Cooper from Connecticut Valley Homes and this is the Modular Homes Minute. I'm coming to you live from Fairfield, Connecticut at our Fairfield design studio. The reason I am down today is I have been spending the last few days in Greenwich trying to understand the new zoning and FAR rules. I'm going to explain the best I can what the rules are. It's mainly going to apply to several jobs I am currently working on.

What is FAR? 

So with that said, what is FAR? FAR is Floor Area Ratio. What does floor area ratio mean, right? It's a mathematical calculation based on the zone and based on the size of your land that you own. There's a calculation that they use to come up with your floor area ratio, which is basically your allowable living space within the four walls of your house, in layman's terms.

In past times, if I were to maximize my floor area ratio in my living space, first floor if it's a ranch, first and second floor if it's a colonial, I would not be allowed to have any attic space. The town would tell me exactly what type of truss system I had to use in my attic. In other words, all the support would come down to the center of the floor, therefore making the attic uninhabitable or really not good for storage, maybe some small boxes and your mechanicals could go up there.

Now, first week of August, this all changed. The new rule came into effect, so for the zone that I'm in, I have some happy customers, I'm pleased to say. We can now use the attic for habitable space or storage space. The way the zone reads, or the way the rules reads in the new zone, I'm going to read it to you and then try and explain it to you.

What do these new regulations mean for me?

Under these new regulations, you would calculate the attic area for the R6 through RA1 zone at 40%, and the RA2 and RA4 at 50%. You calculate the same method as before the regulation change. All heights seven feet and over and dormer heights five feet and over in the attic are calculated. If the area of those heights are less than the required percentage, that 40 or 50%, you don't have to count any area in the attic and it is considered a half story.

If these areas exceed the maximum percentage allowed, you would then have to count the entire gross floor area of the attic out to the plate. The attic would also count as an entire story, so it would not be a half story, it would be a full story.

In my instance, I'm allowed 40% in my zone so I can have habitable attic space or storage attic space so long as my attic space and the seven foot or higher mark, and I'll try and explain that to you, is less than 40% of my total floor area ratio of the floor underneath. So in this case, the second floor, I'm allowed to have 40% of that second floor, floor area living space to calculate what I can have in the attic.

In my particular instance on one home, I think I'm only at 28% so I'm well within. So, how do you get that number? Your attic ratio number comes from that 40%, right? So if you have a typical gable roof, you would follow from the floor at the top plate, you'd follow that roof rafter from the heel all the way up until you hit seven feet. That seven foot mark on this side and on this side, everything in between that area that is above seven feet, in other words you're not going to bang your head if it's above seven feet unless you're really tall, would count in this 40% range. As long as you are under the total 40% or 50% calculation based on your zone, it doesn't count towards your FAR.

You can use the space however you'd like to use it whether it's seven feet, eight foot, in that area it does not matter. So again, it's different for everybody. There's more to it than this basic explanation. It has a lot to do with grade planes, foundations above grade, under grade, so this is what I've found out that's working for the  jobs that I have going on right now. It's going to help my customers, but you need to look into your own individual situations.

Download a PDF File of the Greenwich FAR Zoning Changes here

Have Questions?

Please, if you have any questions, shoot me an email. Hit me up on YouTube, Facebook. As always, check us out at CT Valley Homes if you're considering building. Modulars are great options. Download the 25 Questions to Ask a Builder and also ask us those questions as well. I'm Dave Cooper and I'll see you next time. Thanks.


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