FAR is a zoning acronym that stands for ‘Floor Area Ratio.’ This number will dictate how much ‘floor area’ you can have in relation to the size of your lot. It is one of the methods used by city zoning regulations to control the overall size of a building.
For example, if you have a lot that is 20′ x 100′ and have a FAR of 1, you will be permitted to build a total of 2000 SF of floor area. That floor area can be distributed on the site in a verity of ways as the diagram below demonstrates
Other codes such as building height restrictions, minimum rear yard depth requirements, and maximum lot coverage restrictions, will work with FAR to determine the maximum building envelope.
While this might sound relatively strict, there is a malleable aspect of FAR – in that not all built space counts as ‘floor area.’ In New York City, only livable spaces count against your FAR allowances, meaning that a mechanical room, for example, would not count as part of FAR. Floor openings and any space that is more than 50% below curb height also do not count as livable space. This means that with some intelligent planning and design you can reapportion your FAR to allow you to build a larger house than you might otherwise think is permittable.
We are well versed in these methods to expand what is possible to build and work with homeowners and developers to make sure they are getting the most value out of their sites.