The long-awaited final report published Dec. 5, 2022, from the Georgia Study Committee on Regulation, Affordability, and Access to Housing is the most evidence in favor of a bill repealing aesthetic mandates that ban vinyl siding in Georgia.
The report clarifies that architectural design mandates were continuously raised as barriers to affordable housing. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation found that Georgia builders were 14% more likely to encounter required architectural design standards than their national counterparts. These mandates impose restrictions on the type of building materials, garage setback, roofing pitch, window width and many more stipulations that often lead developers to make more costly decisions to meet requirements.
Matt Dobson, Vice President of the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI), testified before this committee “that vinyl siding is the most affordable external cladding for homes, saving customers an average of $250 per square of exterior cladding, and is the most popular choice for remodels.”
During the meeting, Dobson also stated “that as a result of misperceptions, misinformation and a desire to keep home prices high, vinyl siding has been banned in several communities, including 70% of metro Atlanta jurisdictions and counties [Douglas, Cherokee, DeKalb, Forsyth, Gwinnett and Cobb].”
Prohibitions such as these drive up home prices by requiring the use of more expensive materials. The good news: developers can save approximately $5,000 per home using vinyl cladding versus fiber cement and $33,000 per home using vinyl instead of brick.
During the hearing before this Committee on October 12, several speakers stated that the variety of design mandates across communities makes it difficult to build homes as design changes and appeals could take weeks to resolve. Developers also shared that many design standards do not make sense, nor do they contribute to the health, safety and well-being of residents. Many presenters advocated for universal design standards to reduce the inconsistency with which architectural design mandates are applied across counties.
VSI is as confident as ever that 2023 is the year Georgia will roll back these onerous regulations and give the power to decide what their houses will look like back to consumers.