How to Design a Low Property Tax House

How to Design a Low Property Tax House
••• house building image by Warren Millar from

Building the home of your dreams while keeping property taxes low can be difficult. If you are designing a house yourself, you already have more control over design than someone who is purchasing a house or making renovations. Every state and town has its own property tax codes and laws, so research your new neighborhood or city before you begin building. There are, however, several steps to designing a low-property tax house that apply regardless of where you choose to live.

Design with size in mind. The larger the internal and external square footage of a house, the more you will pay in taxes. Keep your design compact and efficient instead of sprawling and luxurious.

Keep the extras to a minimum in your design. You may have always dreamed of having a swimming pool, walk-in closet or finished basement, but your taxes will be lower without them. Some other common features that should be avoided if you are trying to keep property taxes low are: walk-out basements, finished attics, wine cellars, Jacuzzis, patios and sun rooms.

Move to a poorly funded school district if low taxes are truly your priority. Because schools in most states receive the bulk of their funding through property taxes, families are often willing to sacrifice and pay higher taxes for the benefit of a well-funded, quality public-school district. The reverse is true if you'd rather have low taxes.

Keep the exterior design basic and utilitarian. Do not build huge picture windows or porches and avoid lots of landscaping on the surrounding property. Do not add extra buildings, including large garages or storage buildings.

Make the house energy efficient. The U.S. Department of Energy will give a 30 percent federal-tax credit with no limit if you install solar panels, residential turbines or any sort of natural gas on new or existing construction.


  • Make sure your low-tax house is not so modest that nobody will ever want to buy it again. Striking a balance between affordability and solid value is important. Share your desire for a low-tax home with your chosen builder. You want to apply the same level of modesty to the finished materials, like the tile and woodwork, to make sure your property values, and therefore, your taxes, stay low.