New quiz, section 2, #13

Liking the new practice quizzes so far.

One misleading answer I’ve come across so far in the PA section is section 2 #13.

On the actual exam would we actually ever round up?

For this question I thought it was obvious to round down to 5 as if we build up to 6 at the allowable building area we would go over our maximum allowed floor area by our
FAR.

You could make the argument that in practice we would create the setback but the problem does not state that as an option.

So this is an example of “adding to the question” which we have trained ourselves not to do for these exams right?

Can one of our coaches chime in here please? thanks!

Q & A below for reference.

An architect is designing a new commercial building on a site that is 95 feet deep with 55 feet of street frontage. The zoning ordinance in the downtown district requires all new commercial buildings to have a maximum FAR of 3.0 and 10-foot setbacks on all sides.

Assuming that each floor is built to the maximum allowable footprint, what is the maximum number of floors this building can have?

5
stories
An FAR of 3.0 allows a maximum buildable area of 15,675 sf:

Maximum floor area = 95’ x 55’ x 3.0 = 15,675 sf

Then determine the actual buildable area with the setbacks.

**95’ deep - 10’ front setback - 10’ rear setback = 75’ **

55’ wide - 10’ side setback - 10’ side setback = 35’

A building at 35’ x 75’ will provide for 2,625 sf per floor

15,675 sf / 2,625 sf = 5.97 floors, which rounds to 6 floors.

This means that the first 5 floors of the building will be built to the maximum allowable setback, and the sixth floor will be slightly smaller in order to comply with FAR regulations. In practice, it would make sense to divide the floor area equally across the six floors so there is not a small setback at the top level.

Hi @Charlesanthonylent thanks for writing in! I agree this one is tricky but I don’t think it’s misleading or incorrect.
The question states to assume that each floor is built to the maximum allowable footprint - footprint can be controlled via setbacks but also FAR - if there’s not enough FAR available to build to the setback lines, an upper floor may be smaller than the floors beneath it. This occurs often in urban areas where there’s a penthouse level, for example.

Think about a more extreme example here - in a more rural setting, a 1-acre site (43,560sf) that’s appx. a 208’ x 208’ square could have an FAR of 0.25 and 5’ setback requirements on all sides. Taking into account the setbacks only, there are about 41,000 square feet on the site that you could build on - but according to the FAR your maximum footprint (for a 1-story building) is 10,890 sf. You wouldn’t say that the maximum footprint is 41,000 - you’d say it’s 10,890. The same applies in this question about a multi-story building on an urban lot.

I hope this clears up any confusion and we’re glad you’re enjoying the quizzes!