What is a Variance in Real Estate?

A variance in real estate is an exception to a zoning law. Zoning laws are regulations that dictate how property can be used in a particular area. Variances are granted on a case-by-case basis, and only when the property owner can demonstrate that the variance is necessary and will not have a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

Types of Variances

There are two main types of variances:

  1. Area variances: Area variances allow property owners to build or construct something typically prohibited by physical zoning requirements. For example, an area variance might be needed to build a fence that is taller than the local zoning ordinance allows, or to build a garage that is closer to the property line than the ordinance allows.
  2. Use variances: Use variances allow property owners to use their property in a way that is not normally allowed by the local zoning ordinance. For example, a use variance might be needed to open a home daycare business in a residential neighborhood, or to convert a single-family home into a multi-family home.

When to seek a Variance

There are many reasons why a property owner might seek a variance. Some common examples include:

  • To build a structure that is larger or taller than is normally allowed in the zoning district.
  • To build a structure closer to a property line than is normally allowed.
  • To build a fence that is taller than is normally allowed.
  • To operate a home-based business in a residential neighborhood.
  • To convert a single-family home into a multi-family home.
  • To build a commercial structure in a residential neighborhood.

How to apply for a Variance

To apply for a variance, you will typically need to follow these steps:

  1. Contact your local zoning board or planning department. They will be able to provide you with the specific requirements for applying for a variance in your municipality.
  2. Fill out a variance application form. This form will typically ask for information about your property, the proposed variance, and why you need the variance.
  3. Pay a filing fee. The amount of the filing fee will vary depending on your municipality.
  4. Submit your application and supporting documentation to the zoning board or planning department. Supporting documentation may include architectural drawings, engineering reports, and letters of support from neighbors.
  5. Attend a public hearing on your variance application. At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your case and answer questions from the zoning board members.
  6. The zoning board will vote on your variance application. If your variance is approved, you will be granted a permit to make the proposed changes to your property.

When can a Variance be granted?

Variances can be granted when property owners can demonstrate that they face a hardship that would prevent them from using their property in a reasonable way if they were required to comply with all zoning laws. Hardships can be physical, such as a narrow lot that makes it difficult to build a house that meets setback requirements, or financial, such as a property that is worth less if it is not allowed to be used for a certain purpose.

Zoning boards also consider the impact that a variance would have on the surrounding neighborhood. If a variance would have a negative impact on the neighborhood, it is less likely to be granted. However, if a variance would have a positive impact on the neighborhood, such as by providing more affordable housing or by creating jobs, it is more likely to be granted.

Here are some specific examples of when a variance might be granted:

  • A property owner wants to build a garage that is closer to the property line than the zoning ordinance allows.
  • A property owner wants to convert a single-family home into a duplex.
  • A property owner wants to open a home daycare business in a residential neighborhood.
  • A property owner wants to build a fence that is taller than the zoning ordinance allows.
  • A property owner wants to build a swimming pool that is closer to the property line than the zoning ordinance allows.

How long does it take?

The amount of time it takes to get a variance approved varies from municipality to municipality. However, it is generally a multi-step process that can take several months to complete.

Here is a general timeline for the variance approval process:

  • Submit application: 1-2 weeks
  • Review application: 2-4 weeks
  • Public hearing: 2-4 weeks
  • Zoning board decision: 2-4 weeks

If your variance is denied, you may be able to appeal the decision to the city council or other governing body. The appeal process can add several more months to the timeline.

In some cases, the variance approval process can be expedited if the zoning board determines that the variance is necessary to prevent an imminent hazard or to address a unique and compelling hardship.

Conclusion

A variance in real estate can be a valuable tool for homeowners and investors who want to use their property in a way that is not normally allowed by local zoning laws. However, it is important to note that variances are not granted automatically. Property owners must submit a detailed application and must be prepared to justify their request.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a variance in estate?

In the context of estate planning, a variance is a modification to the terms of a will or trust. It is typically obtained through a court order, but in some cases it may be possible to obtain a variance without court approval. Variances are often used to correct mistakes in a will or trust, or to make changes to the distribution of assets in order to adapt to changes in the circumstances of the testator or settlor.

How does a variance work?

The process for obtaining a variance varies depending on the jurisdiction. In general, however, the person seeking the variance must file a petition with the court explaining the reasons for the request. The court will then hold a hearing to consider the petition and determine whether to grant the variance.

Which is an example of when a variance is required?

A testator’s will leaves their entire estate to their spouse. However, after the testator’s death, the spouse remarries. The testator’s children from their first marriage may seek a variance to the will in order to receive a portion of their parent’s estate.

What are variances in construction?

In the context of construction, a variance is a change to the original scope of work on a project. Variances can be initiated by either the client or the contractor, and they can be for a variety of reasons, such as changes in the design, unforeseen site conditions, or budget constraints.

What are the three important types of variance?

There are three main types of variance in construction:

  • Cost variance: This is the difference between the actual cost of a project and the budgeted cost.
  • Schedule variance: This is the difference between the actual schedule of a project and the planned schedule.
  • Quality variance: This is the difference between the actual quality of a project and the required quality.

Why are variances used?

Variances are used to track and manage changes to construction projects. By identifying and monitoring variances, project managers can take steps to mitigate any negative impacts on the project.

What are the types of variance?

In addition to the three main types of variance listed above, there are a number of other types of variance that can occur in construction, such as:

  • Scope variance: This is the difference between the actual scope of work on a project and the planned scope of work.
  • Material variance: This is the difference between the actual cost of materials used on a project and the budgeted cost of materials.
  • Labor variance: This is the difference between the actual cost of labor used on a project and the budgeted cost of labor.
  • Equipment variance: This is the difference between the actual cost of equipment used on a project and the budgeted cost of equipment.

How do you Analyse variance?

Variance analysis is a process of comparing actual results to planned results in order to identify and quantify differences. Variance analysis can be used to track and manage variances in all areas of construction, including cost, schedule, quality, scope, materials, labor, and equipment.

What is a favorable variance?

A favorable variance is one in which the actual result is better than the planned result. For example, a favorable cost variance would occur if the actual cost of a project is less than the budgeted cost.

Is higher variance better?

No, higher variance is not necessarily better. In fact, high levels of variance can indicate that there are problems with the project. For example, high cost variance could indicate that the project is over budget, or that the project team is not accurately estimating costs. High schedule variance could indicate that the project is behind schedule, or that the project team is not effectively managing the project schedule.

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Razib

Razib is a skilled writer with 5 years of experience specializing in technology, finance, automotive and real estate. A BBA graduate from 2014, Razib's passion for these industries shines through in his informative and engaging content. His ability to break down complex topics and stay current on the latest trends makes him a valuable resource for readers seeking to understand these dynamic fields.

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