flexiblefullpage - default
Currently Reading

How Excessive Design Standards Hurt Affordability

billboard - default
Codes + Standards

How Excessive Design Standards Hurt Affordability

NAHB Housing Policy Briefing | Stringent residential design standards imposed by local governments are affecting housing costs; the impact of new residential construction on the broader economy (chart)

By National Association of Home Builders October 1, 2020
Book of building codes
The NAHB questions the need for stringent design regulations in light of housing affordability issues. | Photo: Russ Ward on Unsplash.com

Design regulations are supposed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of residents, but superficial and excessive rules that price lower- and moderate-income families out of the market should not be prioritized over the need to address the housing affordability problem. The fact that certain classes of homebuyers are excluded from buying a home makes excessive residential design standards an inappropriate policy option.

Design Standards Gone Too Far

Examples of highly prescriptive design standards include:

  • Prohibiting or limiting the use of exterior materials such as vinyl siding and metal
  • Requiring specific, expensive materials for fencing
  • Dictating the amount of relief and surface area dedicated to windows
  • Requiring a minimum number of roof planes to be visible from the front property line and mandating minimum roof pitch
  • Requiring architectural features such as offsets, projections, recesses, and windows to “break up” large expanses of blank wall

A new document from the National Association of Home Builders, “Residential Design Standards: How Stringent Regulations Restrict Affordability and Choice,” explains how these standards harm low- and moderate-income families. The primer suggests policies that local governments can use to influence residential design without limiting choice, affecting housing affordability, or excluding anyone based on race, ethnicity, faith, disability, or sexual orientation. Several states, including Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas have passed laws limiting local jurisdictions’ ability to impose excessive design standards.


The Dollar Value of Building Products in New Construction

NAHB analysis of government data indicates new single-family and multifamily construction used about $94.9 billion in building products in 2019. Although the vast majority of that amount was produced domestically, supporting jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector, roughly $6.1 billion was imported from other countries.

Among the major product categories, new residential construction in 2019 used more than $11 billion each of “cement and concrete products” and “architectural and structural metals.”  The chart below demonstrates the impact of new residential construction on the broader economy.


Data showing top 10 building products used in single-family and multifamily construction in 2019


ABOUT NAHB: The National Association of Home Builders is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing more than 140,000 members involved in home building, remodeling, multifamily construction, property management, subcontracting, design, housing finance, building product manufacturing, and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction. For more, visit nahb.org.


Related Stories

Energy Efficiency

New RESNET Label Provides Home Energy-Efficiency Ratings and Certifications Info

A one-page, consumer-friendly label is now available for all homes in the RESNET Registry

Energy Efficiency

Meet the Zero Energy Ready Home Program Version 2

The latest version of the ZERH program aims to push home energy efficiency and performance to the next level

Regional Builders

Utah’s Housing Recovery Hinges on Federal Permitting Reform

Despite a fast pace of new-construction projects statewide, demand for housing in Utah continues to outpace supply. Local builders say reforming an outdated federal permitting process could help

boombox1 -
native1 - default
halfpage2 -

More in Category

native2 - default
halfpage1 -

Create an account

By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.

Daily Feed Newsletter

Get Pro Builder in your inbox

Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Save the stories you care about

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

Disable your ad-blocker
Disable now
Subscribe to Pro Builder
Already a member? Sign in
Become a Member

Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.