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I would imagine that builders’ tricks of the trade would be complicated, time-tested fixes requiring years of regulatory know-how and relationship-building with government officials. But in Fairfax County, it seems that developers have figured out a pretty simple-minded way of skirting the law.

Problem: How do you make a house look taller without actually breaking the 35-foot height restriction?

Solution: Why, pile some extra dirt under the property!

According to the DC Examiner, Fairfax County developers have made a habit of doing this.  That trend was not in “the spirit” of the law—-but was a “fairly common practice” anyway.

Now, the county has decided to re-write the regulation to “simply mandate that the height of most houses must be measured from the original ground level, not the raised one.”

“County supervisors are expected to set a Planning Commission public hearing on the proposal for July 23, after which the item would return for the board for a second hearing in September,” according to the story.

It seems like perfect timing now that the McMansion trend is slowing down.