Building an addition to your property should be an exciting time for any homeowner, but running afoul of local zoning ordinances can ruin the whole experience. At Behm Design, we want the construction of your detached garage to go as smoothly as possible. That’s why we have put together this guide on zoning ordinances. It will cover what they are and how to ensure your garage plans remain in compliance with your local laws. 

What Exactly is Zoning?

If you haven’t spent time in municipal planning, zoning can be a confusing topic. Basically, zoning is a subset of laws that determine where and what kind of properties residents and business owners build. If that sounds important, that’s because it is. Whether you realize it or not, zoning ordinances affect your everyday life, from where you live to where you work and where you go shopping.

Think about your city. Most urban or suburban areas are divided into districts, such as residential, commercial, and industrial. That is zoning. Traditionally, zoning ordinances ensure the health and prosperity of the local community. You can thank your local zoning laws for keeping large factories out of your neighborhood’s backyard. 

Bear in mind that zoning ordinances vary from city to city and are often adjusted as the local government sees fit. While it’s probably not necessary to know each and every code, if you’re thinking about making an addition to your property, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your municipality’s guidelines.

Common Zoning Designations

There are several different zoning classifications, each with its own set of ordinances. These are some of the most common and likeliest to be relevant to you: 

  • Residential. Residential districts are where you will find the vast majority of homes and other dwellings. As such, a municipality will likely have many of these areas and will feature not just houses but apartments, townhomes, and condos as well. 
  • Commercial. These zones are where business is conducted. From retail shops and restaurants to law firms and other offices, all sorts of commerce happens in these districts. As with residential zones, you will likely find several different commercial zones throughout the municipality. 
  • Industrial. Industrial zones have been expressly set aside for heavy-duty manufacturing and factory work. Most cities set industrial districts apart from commercial and residential zones to protect the population from industry-related pollution.
  • Agricultural. Bigger cities are not likely to have zones like this, but in suburban or rural areas, agricultural districts are more common. Municipalities parcel these districts for farming and related use. 

These are just some of the different types of zones you may find in your local municipality. If you are interested in adding an outbuilding to your property, chances are you live or work in one of these four districts. 

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I Have Detached Garage Plans. What Zoning Requirements Should I Know?

When building an addition to your residential property, there are several specific zoning ordinances to keep in mind. A detached garage, for example, usually falls into the “accessory building” category. On the other hand, our apartment garage plans are “accessory dwelling units.”

Both these types of additions are subject to specific zoning requirements, many of which are universal across municipalities. For example, your accessory building must be a certain distance from the front, rear, and side property lines, no matter where you live. This is to keep the area around the accessory building clear of debris and provide some distance from the main dwelling in case of a fire. 

Fire and other hazards are significant considerations when it comes to specific ordinances. Your accessory building may be required to be “fire-rated,” for example. In areas prone to flooding, a municipality might ask that a certain portion of your property contain “hard surfaces.” This includes the detached garage you plan to build.

In most cases, before starting construction on your detached garage, you will need to obtain a permit from your local housing authority, which may include a zoning administrator. Behm Designs’ garage plans are usually permissible for your permit application. As always, double-check your local ordinances. 

Best Practices For Your Garage Plans

Though specific ordinances may differ from city to city, there are some pretty standard requirements that you are likely to run across. In all cases, your detached garage must be smaller than the primary dwelling and usually should be no larger than 1000 square feet. 

When selecting a location for your garage, you should be sure to give yourself at least six feet of clearance between the garage wall and the edge of your property line, including any fencing. Additionally, zoning requirements usually limit garages to no larger than 15 feet in height. 

If you ever are in any doubt regarding the guidelines for adding an accessory building, always check with local authorities. Your local municipality may have stricter or more forgiving ordinances than you expect. By being proactive and doing your research first, you could save yourself a world of time and effort in the long run. 

About Our Garage Plans

Detached garages make valuable additions to any property, and Behm Design is here for you every step of the way. We have specifically designed our plans to meet most zoning and permit requirements. It is our pledge to help you find the right detached garage plan for your needs. 

Visit our website and browse the various designs we have to offer. We feel confident that you will find the perfect detached garage for your home. We guarantee your satisfaction with your purchase or get your money back up to sixty days.