HIP Tool: Small Lot Development

Small lot development allows single family homes to be built on lots that are smaller than typically allowed in single family zoning districts, generally ranging from approximately 1,500 to 5,000 sq ft. Development is permitted by ordinances that reduce or relax minimum lot size, setback or lot coverage regulations to allow greater density. Ordinances can be written to apply to specific zoning or overlay districts.


What issues does small lot development address?

Small lots have great potential to encourage density and housing diversity in jurisdictions and neighborhoods dominated by single-family housing types on large lots. Allowing small lots in areas where the value of land is high can reduce the per-unit land costs, making housing more affordable.

Where is small lot development most applicable?

Small lot development can be used in all sizes of cities and in a variety of situations. It is effective in developed residential zones with fragmented lots that, under present land use regulations, are undevelopable but would make good home sites. It can also be applied effectively in areas below maximum density where large or adjacent lots could be subdivided to create denser development. Small lot development may also be used in greenfield development, and is often deployed in combination with short plats, lot size averaging, planned unit developments, cottage housing, cluster development and master planned communities.

Tool Profile

Focus Areas

  • Expensive Housing Markets
  • Innovative Single Family Techniques

Project Types

  • Single Family
  • Ownership
  • Market Rate
  • Subsidized

Affordability Level

  • 80 to 120% AMI
  • Less than 80% AMI

Housing Goal

  • Diversity