Density Guide Calculator

We built this density guide calculator to help developers like you determine what type of building might meet the demands of each site and each project. Click the button below to enter your ideal number of units per acre for a specific project, or download our reference sheet with notes on each building type for future use.

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Here are building types that might work for your project


Single Family Cluster Housing

Cluster housing provides the benefits of a townhome with the privacy of a single family home. Usually smaller than a single family home, cluster housing is situated around courtyards and parking courts. With this approach there is generally around 10 to 12 units per acre.

  • Single family, detached homes
  • Front-facing with walkable streets
  • One or two story homes
  • Private patios or limited small yards

Townhomes or Rowhouses

Townhomes or rowhouses combine lower maintenance needs with valuable community amenities and an urban location at a lower price point than a traditional single family home in exchange for less privacy and space. Usually, townhomes yield 12-18 units per acre.

  • Single family, attached rowhouses with garage or tuck-under parking from rear alley
  • Front-facing with walkable streets
  • Small, private patios
  • Limited curb cuts along streets

Cluster or Manor Homes

Cluster homes, or Manor homes, are smaller walk-up style multifamily buildings. They fit multiple residences in a mansion-scale structure with around 15 to 22 units per acre.

  • Smaller multifamily buildings, sometimes clustered around courtyards
  • Front-facing with walkable streets
  • Two to three stories; walk-up
  • Organized with parking courts behind and with parallel on-street parking

Garden Apartments

Garden apartments are what is currently thought of as the “typical” suburban multifamily structure. They are a good option for larger sites and can fit between around 19 to 25 units per acre.

  • Not inherently walkable
  • Smaller buildings, with 4 units per level around stairways
  • Two to three stories; walk-up with open-air stairways
  • Organized with surface parking in front and around

Village Cluster or Urban-Suburban Homes

Village clusters or urban-suburban multifamily homes are a hybrid option between garden-style apartments and structured parking solutions. This type can generally fit between 26 to 40 units per acre.

  • Multifamily buildings oriented towards streets in a walkable setting
  • Typically three or four stories; walk-up or limited elevators
  • Corridor style buildings, either open-air or conditioned
  • Organized with parking courts behind, and/or tuck-under rear parking, with parallel on-street parking

Four Story with Central Garage Structure

Called the “Texas Donut” Wrap, this is a four story structure in which housing wraps around a central parking structure. This scenario provides ample parking on-site, compactly. It yields around 41 to 75  units per acre, compactly.

  • Four stories of Type VA wood construction
  • Multilevel parking structure (typically concrete)
  • Urban Form facing walkable streets

Five Story with Central Garage Structure

A five story building with a central garage structure utilizing Type IIIA construction. Building to this height is dependent upon local fire codes as it is not allowed by all municipalities, but if this option is available it fits around 80 to 95 units per acre.

  • 5 stories of Type IIIA non-combustible wood construction
  • Multilevel parking structure (typically concrete)
  • Urban Form facing walkable streets

Four or Five Story over Podium Garage

This four or five story building places residences on top of a garage podium. It efficiently uses the site up to the maximum height for “wood” construction. In most cases, it fits between 90 and 115 units per acre.

  • 4 stories (Type VA) or 5 stories (Type IIIA) wood construction over garage podium and/or below grade garage
  • Podium is directly beneath housing
  • Allows for maximum density while still in wood construction
  • Height can be an issue and depends upon various local codes. Some municipalities amend downward the High Rise height limit of 75ft to top floor level to 55ft.

Mid-Rise Housing

Mid-Rise housing is a great option for very urban or transit sites and features seven to eight stories above a parking podium and/or below grade parking. In most cases this scenario achieves around 116 to 150 units per acre.

  • Typically limited to 7 or 8 stories (Type I or III) metal or concrete construction below the High-Rise code of 75ft (maximum floor level)
  • Multilevel podium parking structure is directly beneath housing
  • Allows for very efficient utilization of smaller sites
  • Height can be an issue and depends upon local codes

High-Rise Housing

High-Rise housing is ideal in very dense, very urban locations but of course comes with higher construction costs. It provides the biggest return in terms of units per acre, which in most cases is around 140 to 300+ units.

  • Height and stories (Type I) steel or concrete construction usually limited by Zoning height limits or construction economics
  • Multilevel parking structure is either directly beneath housing (above or below grade)
  • Allows for maximum density
  • High-Rise code and structural requirements apply with increased costs

Single Family Cluster Housing

Cluster housing provides the benefits of a townhome with the privacy of a single family home. Usually smaller than a single family home, cluster housing is situated around courtyards and parking courts. With this approach there is generally around 10 to 12 units per acre.

  • Single family, detached homes
  • Front-facing with walkable streets
  • One or two story homes
  • Private patios or limited small yards

Townhomes or Rowhouses

Townhomes or rowhouses combine lower maintenance needs with valuable community amenities and an urban location at a lower price point than a traditional single family home in exchange for less privacy and space. Usually, townhomes yield 12-18 units per acre.

  • Single family, attached rowhouses with garage or tuck-under parking from rear alley
  • Front-facing with walkable streets
  • Small, private patios
  • Limited curb cuts along streets

Cluster or Manor Homes

Cluster homes, or Manor homes, are smaller walk-up style multifamily buildings. They fit multiple residences in a mansion-scale structure with around 15 to 22 units per acre.

  • Smaller multifamily buildings, sometimes clustered around courtyards
  • Front-facing with walkable streets
  • Two to three stories; walk-up
  • Organized with parking courts behind and with parallel on-street parking

Garden Apartments

Garden apartments are what is currently thought of as the “typical” suburban multifamily structure. They are a good option for larger sites and can fit between around 19 to 25 units per acre.

  • Not inherently walkable
  • Smaller buildings, with 4 units per level around stairways
  • Two to three stories; walk-up with open-air stairways
  • Organized with surface parking in front and around

Village Cluster or Urban-Suburban Homes

Village clusters or urban-suburban multifamily homes are a hybrid option between garden-style apartments and structured parking solutions. This type can generally fit between 26 to 40 units per acre.

  • Multifamily buildings oriented towards streets in a walkable setting
  • Typically three or four stories; walk-up or limited elevators
  • Corridor style buildings, either open-air or conditioned
  • Organized with parking courts behind, and/or tuck-under rear parking, with parallel on-street parking

Four Story with Central Garage Structure

Called the “Texas Donut” Wrap, this is a four story structure in which housing wraps around a central parking structure. This scenario provides ample parking on-site, compactly. It yields around 41 to 75  units per acre, compactly.

  • Four stories of Type VA wood construction
  • Multilevel parking structure (typically concrete)
  • Urban Form facing walkable streets

Five Story with Central Garage Structure

A five story building with a central garage structure utilizing Type IIIA construction. Building to this height is dependent upon local fire codes as it is not allowed by all municipalities, but if this option is available it fits around 80 to 95 units per acre.

  • 5 stories of Type IIIA non-combustible wood construction
  • Multilevel parking structure (typically concrete)
  • Urban Form facing walkable streets

Four or Five Story over Podium Garage

This four or five story building places residences on top of a garage podium. It efficiently uses the site up to the maximum height for “wood” construction. In most cases, it fits between 90 and 115 units per acre.

  • 4 stories (Type VA) or 5 stories (Type IIIA) wood construction over garage podium and/or below grade garage
  • Podium is directly beneath housing
  • Allows for maximum density while still in wood construction
  • Height can be an issue and depends upon various local codes. Some municipalities amend downward the High Rise height limit of 75ft to top floor level to 55ft.

Mid-Rise Housing

Mid-Rise housing is a great option for very urban or transit sites and features seven to eight stories above a parking podium and/or below grade parking. In most cases this scenario achieves around 116 to 150 units per acre.

  • Typically limited to 7 or 8 stories (Type I or III) metal or concrete construction below the High-Rise code of 75ft (maximum floor level)
  • Multilevel podium parking structure is directly beneath housing
  • Allows for very efficient utilization of smaller sites
  • Height can be an issue and depends upon local codes

High-Rise Housing

High-Rise housing is ideal in very dense, very urban locations but of course comes with higher construction costs. It provides the biggest return in terms of units per acre, which in most cases is around 140 to 300+ units.

  • Height and stories (Type I) steel or concrete construction usually limited by Zoning height limits or construction economics
  • Multilevel parking structure is either directly beneath housing (above or below grade)
  • Allows for maximum density
  • High-Rise code and structural requirements apply with increased costs





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