I just received an email from a man whose home was recently appraised by the county tax office for the first time after final completion. The property tax assessment turned out to be really high and he asked if there was any history of successful contesting of such assessments in my history. I didn’t have anything to offer him other than support and advice. Here’s the deal:
Property taxes are assessed from the outside of a home. As such, the overall square footage on which you are taxed as a straw bale home owner is considerably higher than it is for a conventional home owner. In the example of the man who contacted me this morning, he is being taxed on a square footage of 3100 SF even though his actual floor space is only 2400 SF. That’s a lot of extra money they are assessing within the actual wall of the house.
My suggestion to him was to contest the assessment by suggesting that the county tax office support green construction and become a pioneer in the area for such appraisals. They can take the exterior measurement just like they usually do and then subtract all of the “excess” wall thickness so that they are left with a conventional wall thickness of 6 inches. They can then base the assessment on that square footage. Otherwise, they are actually penalizing people for building green which is a terrible message to send to the public.
I’ve asked him to reconnect with me once he gets an answer from the tax assessor’s office. I hope it’s good news and I trust the assessor will see the reasoning in this approach and will choose to support efficient construction.
Art credit: Harry Chen Thinks Aloud