Big Houses In Boulder Gone Forever?

There has been so much talk about big houses in Boulder, that I’m thinking that no one really has any idea what’s coming next.

Is anyone watching the work by local Boulder home builder Bob Hughes, Boulder sustainable design consultants Populus, or Boulder architect Jim Hughes

Every week there’s something in the paper about ‘house-size rules’ and all the Boulder City Council meetings that take place as the community tries to find some sort of set of rules and regulations about how to control house sizes.

It comes into play if you’re thinking about building a new home, remodeling or something in between. What’s in between you may ask? Well, there are already some weird rules in Boulder that include guidelines that allow you to tear down a house… oh, you might have to leave up the front wall of an ‘historic’ building, but otherwise, raze away.

Call, Text, or Email me if you think you’re ready to consider buying or selling Boulder real estate, or you may have questions about what’s going on here, I’d love to hear from you.

By now the Boulder City Council has had it tuesday meeting. What we know is that if you have been planning on building a large home in Boulder, there may be some very limited opportunity for you to get that mega-mansion through the system.

But wait, you need to consider something else. No matter what you want size-wise, you can be very energy conscious and still have a large house.

Perhaps you want a large home because you have a large family, or maybe you entertain for professional or political reasons, or… you just like a heck of a lot of room to roam.

That doesn’t mean you need to let your home be an energy hog. In fact, the home I’ve been seeing a lot of you at in the last few weeks on Alpine is over 6000 square feet and its energy rating is only 35. That means it’s 65% more efficient that the Energy Star rating many homes strive for… but I digress.

Just last night the Boulder City Council took under consideration (again!) the ‘compatible-development” ordinance.  It may not be until sometime in October before we know for sure what the new rules are, so in the meantime, it’s another ‘hurry up and wait’ game for those looking to have free reign on building large homes around here.

One of the homes given recent attention is a home at 2002 Alpine. This is right around the corner from the Boulder real estate for sale where I hosted an open house again last Sunday. If you’re not sure where this is, come directly east from Broadway on Alpine (near Ideal Market and Vic’s Coffee) and just as you cross the 20th st / 19th st. intersection you’ll see a very large crane.

Not the bird, but the kind of crane typically used to put up large commercial building like the ones being use to build a hotel in Broomfield and the new building at CU Boulder. The crane is there because the home is being built using large pre-fabricated sections. It’s really quite remarkable, and if we consider that it’s being built into the hillside, not quite the imposition many people usually might think.

If you felt misdirected by the recent Camera article that told you it was in North Boulder, and you found yourself circling around in the vicinity of Dakota Ridge or the Holiday Neighborhood, which is more of what most folks think of North Boulder these days, not to worry… the home though, is technically right on the edge of the Hillcrest/Panorama Neighborhood and the Whittier Neighborhood according to City of Boulder neighborhood maps.

There are complaints and comments on both sides of the fence on this issue. I suppose that’s why it’s taking so long to resolve what kind of new rules we’ll have in the Boulder real estate community.

My feeling is that there’s a trend towards smaller, sustainably designed, and modernly functional homes, such as the home built by  Boulder home builder Bob Hughes for his personal residence in the Newlands neighborhood.

This is what I’m hearing straight from the people buying homes. Even in the higher price ranges between $1.5 m to $3m, which is high by most standards in many communities and still gets one a pretty substantial home in Boulder these days.

Speculative builders are likely to have a harder time selling the 6000 square feet to 10,000 square feet homes if they’re not built with a certain amount of scale-to-the-neighborhood in mind, and a strong emphasis on sustainable design.

So if you’re a builder, consider looking at this topic not from a standpoint of what city regulations, or those to come, will allow but rather, I think builders in the community like Tomecek from H:T Architecture, Hughes Construction, or those like Markel Homes are seeing the future and realizing that there’s more to it than simply ‘bigger is better’ when it comes to responding to the market, and bringing home buyers what they truly want.

In a marketplace where buyers are continually educating themselves about green building and sustainable design, we see builder/architect/developer collaborations with a new breed of industry experts such as David and Laura at Populus Sustainable Design Consulting, to bring consumers what they really want.

And whatever the outcome of the new rules, it will likely be December or January 2010 before we see what restrictions and regulations come into play.

Here’s the timeline for the Boulder City Council:

There was a meeting Tuesday to take up the ordinance on a ‘second reading’.

If they didn’t come to a decision, we will see another meeting tomorrow (thursday) evening to try to reach a final verdict.

Once something is approved … assuming something is approved… the ordinance would go to another, third public meeting/reading sometime later in September or in October.

Interesting note in my mind, many visitors to the open house I’ve offered at 2068 Alpine have told me that this whole size thing is a relative issue.

It may be frustrating for some folks, exciting for others, but seems to always remain controversial in an area like Boulder where demand appears to almost always meet or exceed supply.

Whether it’s vacant land for sale, sustainably designed green-built homes for saleneighborhood profiles, or Boulder county business profiles, I strive every day to give you the useful information and critical support you need to make an informed decision.

Call, Text, or Email me. I’m never too busy for your referrals, as a real estate professional intent on giving back to the community, my relationship-based approach is exactly what you’ve been looking for in a helpful Realtor, and I will listen to you.

So you may not be moving, but if you know someone who is, I’d love to hear from you. Call, Text, or Email me anytime.

Zachary Epps, full-time professional Realtor® and EcoBroker® at RE/MAX Alliance Boulder


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