Laying the Groundwork for Cheaper Multi-Family Housing Construction

The processes of clearing land, building foundations, and making space for parking are three of the most expensive components of the construction process. Zoning can help reduce the costs to deliver more affordable housing supply.

June 3, 2020, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Columbus, Ohio

Sharon WIldie / Shutterstock

Hannah Hoyt and Jenny Schuetz explore strategies to improve the efficiency of apartment construction by reducing costs in site preparation, substructure work, and parking.

The article offers three strategies for lowering the costs of the "groundwork" for developments.

First, conduct due diligence on the site in advance, and run site prep concurrently with other tasks when possible. Second, prioritize building forms that permit simple, shallow foundations. Third, local governments should update zoning regulations to reduce parking requirements, thereby reducing the amount of costly structured parking.

The article also connects zoning reform of parking requirements to reduced construction costs (spoiler alert: savings may vary). 

The article is the third installment of a series that explores methods for reducing the costs of multi-family housing construction. previous articles discussed cost categories for different building typologies and proposed strategies to save money on land and soft costs.

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