“Fat walls” means fat property taxes!

21 Feb

Did you know that when you’re looking at real estate listing or property tax reports, the square footage listed is actually the EXTERIOR dimensions of the structure?

Square footages are calculated based on “conditioned space”.

And before you start talking about how you read real estate listings that listed room dimensions, did you ever add them up to see if they equal the total square footage claimed in the listing?

I bet you didn’t.

The tax accessor is even more simplistic. They just measure the outside dimensions of your house and then figure out the difference between the conditioned and unconditioned spaces. If you have a 3 season porch or an attached greenhouse, it’s considered unconditioned and is taxed at a different rate.

To learn more about square footage, you can check here;


Now, since we’ve established that exterior dimensions are used to calculate property taxes, think about how much those straw bales or earthbags really cost you. While I admit that I’m not a big fan of Straw Bale construction, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t consider or use Earthbags. Far from it, I love them. In the right circumstances and climates, they’re just wonderful. A friend of mine, Dr Owen Geiger (google him) is probably the world’s leading authority on Earthbag construction. If you’re considering an earthbag home, you should be talking to HIM. When we started our Corganix project (earthbags combined with ISBUs)  his input was invaluable and spot on.

But I digress;

There are places in America where getting permits for Straw Bale and even Earthbag construction is possible.

This raises an interesting predicament.

While these materials may be cheaper in the beginnings to build with, you’ll be paying for them (as lost square footage) over and over again for years as your property tax bill gets paid.

You’re going to require more foundation to set these materials on. You’re also going to need more roof in order to cover those thicker walls.

Sure, your mileage may vary, but it’s something to think about.

RR Avatar