Ask Dave: Are hangar homes compatible with regular airpark homes?

Q: Are hangar homes — basically an apartment located within a hangar — compatible with regular airpark homes that can be either a home with an integrated hangar or just a home with a separate hangar building?

We’ve recently learned that several lot owners are asking the city for building permits to erect hangar homes. The airpark isn’t in the midst of a metropolitan area, but it isn’t exactly in the boondocks, either. All the current airpark homes have integrated hangars and are approximately the same size; none of the homes stands out as exceptionally larger or smaller. Right now the airpark sports about a dozen homes, but there are another 24 lots scattered throughout the property that are still vacant.

A: It appears to me there are a couple of aspects to this situation. Although the questioner doesn’t raise it, I think the first thing that needs to be questioned here is whether the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R) address this issue. As I have written many, many times before and mentioned at every forum I’ve presented, the CC&Rs are critically important to what and how any airpark develops and how those potential changes affect your lifestyle.

As for the compatibility between conventional homes and hangar homes, I think the two types of structures can be compatible if the people living within them want them to be. In other words, if you think you can or think you can’t, you are correct.

Assuming the conventional homes and the hangar homes are built to comparable quality and appearance, they should provide equal assessments for tax purposes.

These structures should be of relative equality in size and types of finishes in order to maintain the home values for everyone on the airpark. Obviously, some homes or hangars will be larger than others, but as long as quality is comparable there should be little problem.

Troubles start when people build, for example, a metal-clad, pole-type hangar and the house next door is a stick-built, brick veneer of three times the square footage and value. Not only is it hard to sell either property, but resentment can build fairly quickly between the two homeowners.

If conventional homes and hangar homes are to go on the same residential airpark, I suggest that each type be located in specially designated areas, separated from the other type. This should help the appearance of the entire development, as well as sustain the market value of both types of structures. Depending on the location of the vacant lots, this may not be possible in this particular situation.

As for the legalities, I see no problem with a hangar home and hope the governing agencies will issue the appropriate permits. In order for the building inspectors and permit departments to approve the plans, they need to rise above the unmitigated fears of increased fire hazard and similar dangers. There’s no more concern there than if a home has a garage housing a large motorhome, which can hold as much gas or diesel as an airplane and may have a propane tank, as well.

Many states have been mandating communities, especially ones in larger metropolitan areas, to stop residential sprawl, planning a higher density of homes in an area. In other words, they encourage small lot sizes for the same size homes. This allows communities to save on infrastructure like water, sewer, gas and other service lines. Some areas also are concerned about additional individual water wells and septic tanks, so they want homes to be built closer together. Hangar homes can support this higher density mandate in more instances than individual homes with integral hangars.

Summing it up, there should be no compatibility problems between hangar homes and conventional airpark homes that can’t be overcome by airpark residents who want to make things work. There will need to be some give and take on both sides and if there aren’t already CC&Rs relating to this issue, they need to be written carefully.

Dave Sclair, a renowned expert on airparks, is the co-founder of Living With Your Plane.

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