R2 Zoning building a new house

R2 Zoning NYC Single Family Residential District

There are regulation known as the New York City Zoning Resolution which restricts what you can build on your property. We are going to discuss some of the basic premises of R2 zoning and how they affect the construction of a new single family detached home in an R2 District. This article is meant to give a basic understanding of some of the zoning concepts for a single family house in an R2 district.

R2 Zoning NYC

What is R2 Zoning?

R2 is a zoning district in NYC that only allows single family detached residences. A detached house is one that has yards on all sides of the house and is not attached to the neighbor’s house. Row houses, attached houses, townhouses and two family houses and multi family buildings are prohibited in R2 districts. You can find R2 zoning in areas like Riverdale Bronx or parts of Queens and Staten Island. These are lower density residential areas with single family homes.

There are 3 types of R2 Zoning districts: R2, R2A, and R2X.

Zoning R2 Districts


Lot Width Minimum – 40′

Lot Area Minimum – 3,800 square feet

FAR – .5

1 Parking Space Required On Site open or enclosed.


R2A Zoning restricts the “building height” to 35 feet measured at the roof ridge, highest point of the roof. It also restricts the perimeter wall height to 21 feet the wall measured at the eave / low point of the roof.

Lot Width Minimum – 40′

Lot Area Minimum – 3,800 square feet

FAR – .5

1 Parking Space Required On Site


R2x zoning Is similar to R2A except that R2X permits properties that are only 30 feet wide and property lots that are only 2,850 square feet. This zoning also allows an Attic Allowance this a square footage bonus for areas of the attic under a pitched roof.

Lot Width Minimum – 30′

Lot Area Minimum – 2,850 square feet

FAR – .5 (Plus Attic Allowance 20% increase)

1 Parking Space Required On Site

R2 Zoning Example, Building a New Home

Here is a basic zoning analysis for an R2 single family home. We will be using basic R2 regulations for this example. Zoning will determine the maximum size, square footage, location of house on the property, yard requirements, and many other variables.

How big of a house can I build?

Floor Area Ratio

Lets assume we are dealing with a property that is 40 feet wide and 100 feet deep and located in the middle of the block with neighboring properties on 3 sides (corner lots have different rules).

Floor Area Ratio


The floor area ratio of a property is a zoning term that governs how many square feet you can build on a property. You multiply the property square footage by the floor area ratio and then you get the maximum square footage allowed for your house.

The Floor area ratio in an R2 Zoning district is .5

The lot square footage is 40 x 100 = 4,000

Lot square footage X Floor Area Ratio  = Maximum square footage of house

4,000 square feet X  .5  =  2,000 square feet (Maximum House size)

In this example we can build a house that is 2,000 square feet or less (2,000 is the maximum). There are certain deductions you can get that change from zone to zone we will not go into that level of detail here but sometime you can discount certain parts of the house like a boiler room or garage. If you have a cellar it does not count for the zoning square footage. Please be aware there is a difference between cellar and basement. A basement does count for zoning square footage.

So we now know we can build a 2,000 square foot house on a 4,000 square foot R2 lot.

R2 Zoning lot

40 x 100 Lot

R2 Zoning NYC Yard Requirements.

In an R2 zone you will be required to have yards on all sides of the property.

Front Yard

The front yard in an R2 district is 15 feet minimum.

Rear Yard

The rear yard in R2 is 30 feet minimum.

Corner lots do not require rear yards. Instead they have 2 side yards and 2 front yards.


Side Yards

You need 2 side yards, the smallest a side yard in R2 is 5 feet but the two side yards combined must be at least 13 feet. So lets assume 1 side yard of 5 feet and 1 side yard of 8 feet for a combined 13 feet of side yard.

Below is a diagram showing the required yards and where we can put our new home. We can build the house anywhere within the shaded area.

We now know where we can build our house and how big it can be. Since our house can be a maximum of 2,000 square feet lets make it 2 stories of 1,000 square feet each. Which we can locate anywhere in the buildable area. I am going to make the house 25 feet by 40 feet 1,000 square feet per story and two stories for a 2,000 square foot house.

R2 Zoning Lot NYC

In this last diagram you can see the buildable area previously established and the house footprint is a little smaller. Although the house can be located anywhere in the buildable area I located it at the front yard 15 foot line in this case which would give a large rear yard and we made one of the side yards a little bigger by aligning the side of the house with the 8 foot side yard.

R2 Zoning NYC house

1 Comment

  • Frank Roma

    June 17, 2017 7:08 pm

    helpful , practical summary of R2 zoning

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