Wade Hiner, president of sales and marketing, Destiny Homes.
Wade Hiner, president of sales and marketing, Destiny Homes.

The average value of a building permit for a single-family house in Des Moines in June was $155,785, city records show. The average square footage, 1,251.
And that type of housing is what’s needed to meet future workforce needs in the Greater Des Moines area, a recent analysis showed. The study showed that 16,500 newly constructed houses priced below $175,000 will be needed in the next two decades to house workers paid low- and moderate-income wages, workforce segments expected to grow in the next two decades.

The city of Des Moines is inching closer to adopting a new zoning code that includes development guidelines for single-family houses. Several homebuilders say the guidelines will make newly built houses unaffordable for buyers with moderate incomes. 

Why Des Moines officials want to eliminate a portion of the home buying population from the newly built home market baffles builders. City officials, though, said Des Moines’ existing housing stock is affordably priced, as are new houses built on infill lots.

That response doesn’t satisfy builders, however. 

“We’re seeing a shift in our market – from custom built to houses that are affordable for the blue-collar worker, teacher, police officer, firefighter and nurse to buy,” said Dan Knoup, executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Des Moines. “These are people Des Moines desperately needs, but they are eliminating their ability to buy a newly built home in the city.”

Nationwide, an increasing number of potential buyers of newly constructed houses are being priced out of the  market because of rising land and construction costs and restrictive building guidelines. Builders say that will likely happen in Des Moines as well if a zoning code is adopted that dictates the size of single-family houses that can be built and requires them to have full basements and garages.

Continue reading to learn more about homebuilders’ stance on Des Moines’ proposed changes to its zoning code and city officials’ response. Read more