There’s one thing you should always consult once you buy a property that you intend to build on—the zoning ordinance of your area. It doesn’t matter if you’ve gotten real estate for sale in West Melbourne or overseeing a construction project along Sunshine Coast. Zoning ordinances will dictate many of the things you can or cannot build on your property.
Zoning ordinances prevent structures from being built in places where they really should have no right to be and is often integral in preserving the condition or environment of the neighborhood. It’s also important to note that zoning ordinances are extremely precise, and can often dictate anything from your building’s height to the type of material you use for finishing.
When should you consult it?
Ideally, before a property is sold, the buyer must already declare the stated purpose of the property and how any building on it will be used. This is necessary to get the approval of the local government and nearby citizens (if needed) to ensure that the new building doesn’t cause any disturbance to the public.
It’s also worth noting that some properties are sold with the express limitation or ruling by a local zoning ordinance—for example, a certain plot of land that can only support a non-residential building due to a lack of sewer systems that can easily connect to it. Simply put, you can’t just buy a property and build whatever you want on it.
What are the different types of properties that you can build?
There are four generally accepted types of property that you can build, which are compliant to a zoning ordinance. These can be considered as to what exactly you intend to use the land for, such as:
- Functional zoning: covering residential, commercial, or industrial buildings
- Form-based zoning: defining zones by their physical characteristics, as being located downtown
- Intensity zoning: definition via how many residential or commercial units can be built in an area
- Incentive zoning: specific areas where you can build a certain kind of structure and be rewarded with some incentive or exemption from local regulations
Knowing these four definitions are useful when it comes to declaring the stated purpose of your land, as local zoning bodies can often give you recommendations or considerations when it comes to the eventual building on your land.
What happens if I don’t comply?
You would be violating the local zoning ordinance, which is usually federally mandated and enforced by the local government. In worst-case scenarios, this can lead the condemnation of your property or having it seized on the grounds of non-compliance with local regulations. This can cause a huge loss in your investment on both the land and the property.
Other things you should keep in mind is that it’s possible for the citizens in the neighborhood to file a case against you if your property happens to disturb the public. This can be a small-level suit or a civil action case that can be escalated to the higher courts. Not only are you more likely to lose this type of case (owing to the fact that the burden of proof is usually on you), but you’ll also need to pay the court costs and fees to all the parties you’ve inconvenienced.
If you are looking to get into real estate investing, always consult your local zoning ordinance. It will save you a lot of headache in the future and can ensure that your investment remains solid.