Is It Worth Buying a Unique House with ‘Grandfathered in’ Architectural Features? It’s a Risk the Rich Are Willing to Take

Home buyers looking for a unique resale may be paying a premium, but they also might be getting a house that wouldn’t be built today, according to zoning laws.

Extra-large mansions in some areas, especially, often don’t meet current building codes, according to the Wall Street Journal. Because many cities have stricter building codes today, home builders truly don’t make them how they used to.

One such home belongs to Christian de Berdouare, from Miami Beach, FL. He obtained the building permits for his 14,000-square-foot home last year, right before the city’s planning department began limiting house size, lot coverage, and a number of other features for residential constructions.

Although de Berdouare’s home won’t be finished until the summer, he will own the only property in his neighborhood with a legal four-foot-deep rooftop pool that can fit up to 10 people. Other new home constructions would be able to have a Jacuzzi up there, at best.

Once the house is complete, de Berdouare is listing it for $35.9 million.

Unique features are a selling point for many people, even families looking for a home in the ‘burbs.

Where the quality of their children’s lives is concerned, parents moving into planned communities want to have an ideal space for their kids.

Frankel Building Group from Houston, TX, has created homes with children’s living space in mind. Rock-wall bunk beds, built-in TVs and gaming consoles, and book shelves, cabinets and desks built into the walls are all available features in the model home in the Lakes of Shadow Creek development.

Even parents who know what to look for in a home builder often feel like they have to make sacrifices for the good of their kids. Around 20% of parents are willing to give up extra features in a home, such as an additional bedroom or a two-car garage, in order to get their kids into a better school.

Custom homes, like the ones in Houston and elsewhere around the country, help to solve that problem if Mom and Dad have the budget for one of these houses. But for the most part, these houses comply with current building codes, and it’s unlikely that reading nooks for kids will be outlawed any time soon.

So how are resale values affected for one-of-a-kind mega-mansions? According to some predictions, buyers may be willing to pay more to get something that current builders can’t offer.

For example, some homes use more glass or concrete than is currently allowed by their cities’ planning departments. Others are built into mountainsides or contain multiple levels spread out over thousands of square feet.

And it’s perfectly legal to have these features in a home, too. Because the constructions are “grandfathered in,” buyers don’t have to fret about obtaining permits — unless they plan to make more changes in the future.

Therefore, even though these homes offer prospective homeowners something they can’t get with a brand new construction, it’s buyer beware if they plan to renovate. Too many changes could take away the exceptions that are present in the first place.

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