It used to be that Kirk MacNaughton was regularly able to build as many houses as he could on a plot of land under local zoning regulations, so long as he had the financing to make it happen and there was a demand. MacNaughton began building houses in 1983, about six years after he started investing in real estate. Then – and for many years after that – his company MacNaughton Builders could take 37 acres where at least two acres were required per plot and turn it into at least 16 homes, MacNaughton said. But now, that plot in Suffield will have seven houses. The rest will be dedicated open space. “The business has changed tremendously from when I first started. There was a rule book. It was pretty black and white,” he said. Now, local governments intervene a lot more in plans, even if what’s proposed follows existing zoning rules. The demand for size has changed, as well. “We first got that project approved maybe five years ago,” he said of the project in Suffield. At the time, he thought the smallest house would be 3,000 sq ft, but now the bulk of the market is in the 2,500 to 2,700 sq ft range.
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