Using examples from Utah, Alabama and Georgia, Andrew Wimer, writing in Forbes, describes how minimum house size requirements keep many homeowners from building their homes. “The minimum square footage requirements are a relatively new innovation and have nothing to do with health and safety. In fact, as recently as the mid-1980s, the median square footage of American homes was 1,600 square feet.
However, “these requirements have increased even as building a house becomes more expensive. According to the US Census Bureau, construction costs rose 17.5% between 2020 and 2021, the biggest increase in 50 years. For people like Chrissy Rochford, who plans to build a 1,600 square foot home, her city’s minimum 2,000 square foot requirement prevents her from building. “In Calhoun, Georgia, the nonprofit Tiny House Hand Up’s plans for a small affordable residential village are on hold since the town has a minimum of 1,150 square feet. The plans meet building requirements in every other way, but the city refuses to consider reducing the minimum.
Some activists have filed complaints to challenge the laws. “Laws restricting how Americans use their private property must be reasonable and serve the government’s legitimate interests. Courts struck down square footage minimums in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, finding they had no connection to public safety or welfare.