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Saving $50,000: Square footage and home affordability in Sturgeon Bay

Posted at 6:48 PM, Dec 11, 2023
  • Sturgeon Bay lowered some minimum square footage requirements for new home construction, with the goal of making housing more affordable
  • Building a 1,200-square-foot home instead of a 1,400-square-foot home could save $50,000, a homebuilder in Door County said
  • Watch the video to learn the details of the change.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

At Sturgeon Bay City Hall, we're talking about housing that can be more affordable. We're here because the City made a change, with the goal of having an option for new housing that can cost less than it otherwise would have. We're breaking down what that change is.

Buying a home can come with hopes and dreams for the future.

But it can also come down to a numbers game in the right now.

Like deciding on a home that's 200-square feet smaller, in exchange for saving $50,000 on construction costs.

"That's a huge difference on your long-term mortgage and the cost of building, absolutely," said Jan Guilette, owner and designer at Countrywide Construction and Design.

She talked with us about the impact the size of a home can have on cost.

Because based on where someone is building a home in Sturgeon Bay, a new home has to hit a certain minimum square footage.

But the Common Council decided to allow smaller homes in some areas of the city, lowering the minimum square footage from 1,400 to 1,200.

Spencer Gustafson is a Sturgeon Bay Common Council member.

"We're trying to make what folks in our town want possible, and hopefully we can bring costs down," Gustafson said.

Since the time the City of Sturgeon Bay made this change earlier in the year, the City says no one's applied to build one of the smaller homes.

"It won't be for everybody, but for those that only need a smaller amount of space, it will be a benefit," [said Sturgeon Bay Community Development Director Marty Olejniczak.

Because it's something that has been talked about a lot in Sturgeon Bay, housing that is more affordable?

"Yeah, like a lot of communities, home costs have gone up substantially in Sturgeon Bay, and we're trying to see what we can do to make it easier for new residents," Olejniczak said.

Olejniczak says the areas affected by this change make up about half of the city's residential areas.

"Do you think this change will be able to make housing more affordable in Sturgeon Bay?" we asked.

"Yes, I do," Guilette said.

And in some parts of Sturgeon Bay, the minimum square footage for a new home is even lower, meaning the cost to build a new home could be that much less.