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Cities adjust building codes to allow micro apartments

Cities adjust building codes to allow micro apartments

Dwight Perkins | October 3, 2012

San Francisco, where a growing number of residents are being priced out of the housing market by a revived high tech economy, is the latest city to consider so-called “micro apartments.” City officials may adjust the building code to allow the smallest housing micro-units of any US city—150 sf of living space —220 sf when you add the bathroom, kitchen, and closet. San Francisco’s current code requires apartment units to be at least 290 sf.

One developer says that mini-apartments' schematics he is considering include window seats that convert to spare beds and beds that transform into tables. Bay windows would offer sweeping views. A city official says that smaller units will mean cheaper and more plentiful housing options, and estimates that the micro-units will probably go for $1,200 to $1,700 a month, compared with an average studio apartment rental price of $2,075. So in a metropolis where 41% of residents live solo, the units would fill a niche by allowing people to stay who might otherwise have to take on roommates or leave town, the city official says.

New York City and Boston have already launched pilot projects for micro units. New York’s experiment allows units as small as 275 sf. Opponents of this trend fear that a wave of "shoe box homes" would further marginalize families of modest means who are desperate for larger accommodations.


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