Correct terms help get ‘hangar home’ OK

Again I read with interest your words about Airparks and living with your plane in the January 9th edition of General Aviation News. And, again I find your comments and advice to those who write to be thoughtful, enlightening, and most of all honest and extremely helpful to aviation enthusiasts who are wanting to live their dream.

I felt the need to comment on the question asked in your recent column about hangar homes being connotized as ‘apartments’ and asking if they can be compatible with “regular airpark homes…”.

I would like to say that with the correct use of terms and verbiage, the initial conversation with airport or airpark management and other governing body personnel must begin with the descriptive language that portrays what the requester really is asking for; i.e.. we all have a picture in our minds eye of what an ‘apartment’ is, where it is typically located, the types of people who live in them, and the problems associated with the close proximity of so many people in one location who have no vested interest in the property. Typically our idea about this type of living arrangement is less than appealing. However, using the term ‘condominium’ in lieu of ‘apartment’ brings another whole different vision to the mind about what the possibilities are for the building structure, its class of inhabitants, and their ownership and desire in preserving the property where they have a stake in the value and utility of the property going forward.

Our experience is that when done correctly, residential living suites incorporated into the same building structure as an aircraft hangar is quite doable. Following the appropriate building codes, each hangar home condominium can be built to satisfy the local inspection authorities and be equally as safe as any other residential structure; single family or multiple family. It is not rocket science, nor is it a secret what is required. What it does take is a desire to take on the challenge, have the correct design and development assistance in place to assure the engineering, materials, and construction methods are adequate for the structure type and geographical area, and again to use the correct terminology when discussing the project elements with others outside the owners interest – the negative connotations of ‘apartments’, ‘metal buildings’, ‘wooden pole construction’, etc can have a make-or-break effect on whether the desired project gets approved or not.

Your comments about the importance of, and understanding the details in, the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions are vitally important and worth repeating whenever possible. And even though these documents provide the guidelines for the size, type, and architectural requirements of the residences (and hangars) approved to be built in a particular airpark, it is imperative that the future owner explore the limitations enclosed in these documents ahead of expecting the City to issue building permits for hangar homes. Where the CC&R’s allow them, the governing agencies zoning restrictions could be the next hurdle to address.

We have found that most existing and earlier developed airparks have restrictions against hangar homes as well as restrictions against multiple family dwellings. They were established to set apart the elite, upper income people from lower income classes. Yet, as is proven in every other residential area of the USA, condominiums and other multiple family dwellings (such as twin-homes, triplexes, and condominiums) are a highly desired residential venue that offer economies of scale, freedoms from maintenance and exterior upkeep, and extraordinary value in recreational locations to those of moderate income levels, elements that ownership of single family homes just do not provide.

Your suggestion that compatibility of hangar homes with other single family homes is more a matter of allowance and recognition that these styles of residences can benefit the overall association and actually increase the property values within an airpark is spot on – not everyone wants to own a large single family home and the constant maintenance, upkeep, and security it requires. Offering a condominium approach, where each inhabitant of the multiple residence not only lives there, but has a vested interest in the longevity of the property as a whole, brings a class of member to the airpark that is not only desirable but essential to the growth of airparks in the future as we go forward in the newly developing economy.

To see pictorially just one of a myriad of architectural finishes available and to set aside the notion that hangar homes are typically ugly, industrial looking structures that resemble a steel box or steel sided pole barn go to our website. It is just one example of the diversity and pleasing aesthetics that can be incorporated into the condominium hangar homes of the future. Incorporate a carousel aircraft handling system into the hangar home structure and the single person manipulation of all aircraft present eliminates the need for someone else having to move your aircraft, inadvertent aircraft movements, and potential hangar rash while increasing the value, utility, and desirability of a condominium style hangar home.

I thank you for your great work in promoting the idea of Living With Your Plane. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts and comments in future articles of the General Aviation News and other publications.


Craig L. Draves
BCD Development L.L.C.
16 South Shore Drive Unit 6
Clear Lake, Iowa 50428-1851
641-210-9695 | 641-357-0742 (fax)