Blood, sweat, tears and cash. Building that bedroom addition or expanding your home to make room for your dream kitchen is a process which can be more work than expected and can cost more money than you thought. Part of that process is designing and making plans needed to apply for zoning permits. As a municipal land use planner who reviews such zoning applications, I’ve seen many people fail to account for several zoning criteria in his or her permit application. One of those criteria is often lot coverage. Exceeding you maximum allowed coverage can cost you extra money during your permitting process.
What is Lot Coverage?
There are plenty of costs you will need to account for when you have a construction project which include design, permitting, materials and labor. There is no need to add to the cost with preventable delays caused by failing to comply with lot coverage requirements. Lot coverage is the ratio of the area of hard or impervious surfaces on your property to the total land area of the property. Any buildings, driveways, patios, decks and pools will likely count towards your lot coverage. Your town likely places a limit on the amount of coverage on each property.
Measure your Coverage
You can accrue many unanticipated costs if you lose track of your lot coverage and design your project in a way that exceeds the maximum coverage allowed. Your permit application could be denied and you will be forced to redesign your project. This can waste a lot of time and you pay extra fees. If you cannot redesign your project to reduce your lot coverage or you already have nonconforming lot coverage, you will have to apply for a variance this zoning requirement. In the worst case scenario, you may need to scrap your project and time and money will be lost.
To save yourself some trouble, have a solid understanding what your existing lot coverage is before you do any work, be aware of how much coverage you have available, (maximum – existing = available) and design your project to be within that limit. A surveyor can survey your property and determine how much coverage you have to start. Your local zoning officer will be able to tell you what the maximum coverage is for your building zone. A civil engineer or architect will help design your project so that you don’t exceed the maximum coverage.
A municipal planner or zoning official will evaluate your building plans against many zoning criteria, one of which is lot coverage. If you happen to exceed the maximum allowed, it will simply cost you more money. Instead spend your money on professionals that have experience with the rules and regulations for building in your community.