Modular Construction and Small Lot Subdivisions – The Perfect Match
Small Lot Subdivisions in California are Ideal for Modular (also known as Prefab) Construction
The City of Los Angeles has enacted the Small Lot Ordinance (No. 176354) to allow the construction of fee simple, infill housing on small lots in multi-family and commercial zones. While home ownership options have traditionally been limited to single-family homes on 5,000 square foot lots or condominiums, the passage of the Small Lot Ordinance extends these options to include townhomes, row houses, and other types of infill housing typically only available for rent.
Modular Construction also known as Prefab Construction is an ideal solution for building homes for small lot subdivisions as there will be a significant TIME savings in the design, permitting and construction of the project.
Modular Construction is a green alternative to traditional site construction as the majority of the home is built in an indoor factory that utilizes extensive recycling to minimize waste in local landfills. The homes built with modular construction are built with up to 30 % more lumber than a traditional site built home to increase the stability and insulating values of the home. USModular, Inc. is a Design and Build General Contractor that specializes in Single and Multi-Family homes. Bill Cavanaugh, USModular, Inc. VP, states: “Modular construction is a perfect fit for small lot developers as the repetitive nature of the design will allow for cost savings on design and engineering. Infill construction in cities like Los Angeles is tough projects as parking at the construction site and noise can be issues with neighbors. Both are minimized with Modular Construction as up to 90 percent of the homes are built in a climate controlled factory setting – and most small lot subdivision projects can have homes delivered and set in a few days. “ Modular Construction with wood can be utilized in homes up to 4 stories tall. Over 4 stories utilizing modular construction would involve steel structures.”
Simplified Land Subdivision Process
The City of Los Angeles Ordinance provides a more space-efficient and economically attractive alternative for sites zoned for apartment or condominium uses. The Small Lot Ordinance simplifies the land subdivision process, making it easier for developers to construct creative new fee-simple homes in urban areas.
It was envisioned to allow the subdivision of underutilized land in Multi-Family and Commercial areas for the creation of up to 15 lots with detached Single-Family homes. It was not intended to generate a request for a General Plan amendment and zone change to permit the development. Generally, these homes have smaller lot areas, compact building footprints, and minimal street front and setback requirements. They are distinct from condominiums in that the tenants of these compact homes have complete ownership of that lot. While the Ordinance provides a smart-growth alternative to the suburban Single-Family home, generally reduces density, and creates new options for home ownership, it also brings a new set of spatial complexities.
Top 10 Small Lot Subdivision Facts
- Small Lot homes are not condominiums. Properties are titled in fee simple, meaning they can be bought and sold just like conventional Single-Family homes.
- Subdivisions are only permitted in areas zoned for Multi-Family housing or commercial uses for projects with up to 47 dwelling units. Projects with a greater number of units will need further review prior to accepting the applications for filing.
- Small lot homes must be structurally independent, with no shared foundations or common walls. This also applies to the conversion of existing buildings into small lot homes, which are permitted by the Small Lot Ordinance.
- Generally, the subdivisions will only have one dwelling unit per lot, although duplexes and triplexes are permitted.
- The Ordinance reduces the minimum lot size and side yard requirements and eliminates requirements for conventional street frontage, allowing for flexibility to be compatible with the existing neighborhood context. This allows for the creation of more space-efficient compact homes. Small lots may be irregularly shaped, a minimum area of 600 square feet, and at least 16 feet wide.
- A 5-foot setback is required between the subdivision and adjoining properties. There are no yard or setback requirements along alleys, streets, or between lots within the approved subdivision.
- All structures on a lot which includes one or more dwelling units, may, taken together, occupy no more than 80 percent of the lot area, unless the tract or parcel map provides common open space equivalent to 20 percent of the lot area of each lot not meeting this provision.
- Parking may be provided anywhere on the site, either on individual or shared lots or a separate parking garage. Communal parking areas must be accessible via the community driveway, street, or alley, and have clear pathways connecting to residential units. Tandem parking is also allowed.
- Small lot subdivisions must be filed as a Vesting Tentative Track Map or as an illustrated Parcel Map. Both will require supplemental site plans, building elevations, and other illustrative information.
- Each proposed small lot subdivision must be reviewed and approved by City Staff, and is subject to public hearing and appeal.The bottom line is the Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance was designed to help make it easier for developers to build fee simple homes and to ease some of the housing shortages in urban areas. US Modular is working with several non profit developers and private developers in Los Angeles as they see the need for housing and like that modular prefab construction can get the homes built faster and greener with minimal neighborhood disruptions.
For more information on prefab construction:
Visit USModular, Inc. at www.USModularInc.com