With new law, Killeen homebuilders must change how they build | Local News

What will Killeen’s houses look like in the future?

With the recent approval of an ordinance reworking architectural standards for homes across Killeen, homebuilders have gone back to the drawing board to figure out how to include an exhaustive list of requirements into ever-shrinking plot sizes.

Many developments in Killeen incorporate some or most of these requirements, which codify into law a higher standard of development; the difficulty for developers lies in including all of the requirements, especially on half-acre or third-acre lots.

The Killeen City Council approved the ordinance on April 26 in a vote of 5-2. The ordinance will officially take effect on May 30.

Here’s the ordinance explained:

Two restrictions have been placed on garages in Killeen. First, if the garage faces the street, it cannot take up more than half of the house. Second, garages cannot poke out farther than anything else on the house; these two requirements together make for a restrictive building pattern where all garages will have to be either flush with the house or recessed.

“Enhanced windows: windows on the front elevation shall incorporate use of transoms, bay windows, shutters, dormers, or other similar window enhancements.”

Translation: The city wants to ensure that developers provide more than a pane of glass. Creating bay windows or using a crossbar or shutters would satisfy this requirement, as would a number of other technical improvements.

“At least two different roof types or two different roof planes of varying height direction or pitch shall be provided.”

Translation: The two most popular roof types in Central Texas are “hip roofs” and “gable roofs.” Typically, hip roofs are flush with the walls, while gable roofs push out a little farther, creating an overhang. Developers are required to include both types of roof types in their designs. Alternately, developers can use multiple roofs to create a desirable effect, much like what is seen in Killeen’s popular ranch-style houses. Many of Killeen’s ranch-style houses feature one long roof parallel to the street with one or two roofs leading into the primary roof.

“The front elevation shall incorporate enhanced architectural details including corbels, quoining, louvered vents, keystones, decorative railings, coach lights, or other architectural features as approved.”

Translation: The City Council wants to make sure that the front of the house is more than a flat brick or slat plane with a front door, maybe a window and a garage.

Here’s what each of those features are:

Corbels — Brackets that connect to the wall and roof.

Quoining — The use of alternate style bricks where two walls meet.

Louvered vents — Fancy vents for the attic.

Keystones — Fancy bricks that draw the eye.

Coach lights — Fancy lights.

There is no set amount of details that a house has to include, which means that it will be up to the discretion of the executive director of development services to sign off on home plans.

Finally, developers are required to pick three items from a menu of six design choices.

These include a side-loading or rear entry garage, a recessed garage, “vertical articulation,” a covered front porch, an enclosed patio or enhanced garage doors.

Vertical articulation means that the front of the house has to feature wall recesses at least a foot deep. Recessed garages are fairly straightforward, but the city is requiring them to be at least five feet deeper than the front of the house.

Additionally, covered porches have to be at least five feet square, and enclosed patios have to be bordered on three sides by fences or waist-high walls.

This menu is where many developers may struggle. For example, after reviewing D.R. Horton’s upcoming homes in the Yowell Ranch subdivision, all five floor plans — from the 1,415- square-foot “Bellvue” to the 1,796-square-foot “Texas Cali.” While all five meet the basic requirements of enhanced windows, architectural details and variable roof design, they fail to meet a minimum of three “menu items.”

Speaking with Joshua Welch, president of the Central Texas Homebuilder’s Association, the developer said Monday that he is unsure what Killeen’s houses will look like.

“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know what Killeen’s houses are going to look like, and I don’t think the city does either,” he said.