Its interesting to see how few homes there are in the market that are truly entry level homes. After WWII the these starter homes were 2.5 times the median income. Here in Idaho Falls that would equate to $125,000.

Heres where the problems lie:

Lot Prices- An average suburban lot ranges from .25-.4 acres. Solution: Small, High Density lots.

Local Fees and Obligations- getting permits etc. can be expensive. It should be in the best interest of cities such as Idaho Falls to enable denser developments a lower cost. Ultimately because it costs them less- less infrastructure to maintain such as roads, sewers, water supplies, etc.

Material Costs: Costs are continually rising. In northern climates we used to build tight compact boxes for the cold. Now we should be doing it to minimize the surface of our buildings. Other options that help here would be townhomes and condos.

Here’s an example of a home on a tight lot. We loved this neighborhood when we lived in Moscow, ID. Lot was small, $25 HOA fees covered the lawn mowing, snow removal, and common space maintenance- Most of the homes backed onto a large green field with play structures.

Another example is these amazing corner lots in Sacramento. There they called them twin homes instead of duplexes but they had these luxury properties that due to the design and positioning of the homes looked like nice large homes (which they were) however they were in actuality two separate and distinct homes. They also did similar homes that weren’t on corners but those didn’t have separate front doors. Note the separate garage doors and addresses.

While I was in school at the University of Idaho we participated in a competition called the Portland Courtyard Housing Competition. Basically you take a 100′ x 100′ lot (not quite a .25 acres) and develop housing onto it with the goal of at least 4-8 Dwelling Units.

To see some of those excellent examples go here.