As you search for a new home, it's important to consider all the potential plans you may have in the future. Are you planning to start a new home business? Will your in-laws be moving in? Don't make the major mistake of buying a home only to find out later a home business is prohibited, or the garage can't be permitted for an in-law guest unit. Local zoning rules or city codes dictate what you can do with your home. It also wouldn't hurt to check out what your neighbors are allowed to do with their property.
The first step is to check with the local municipal planning and building department to discover what the zoning use is for the neighborhood you're interested in. The primary classification is single-family residential, however you also find some neighborhoods zoned for multifamily, transitional, or mixed use such as residential and commercial.
It's important to consider which classification is right for you. If you're planning to set up a home business, a mixed commercial and residential area may be to your advantage. However you need to be aware your neighbor may also take advantage of the zoning classification and build a business or apartment building next door if the zoning permits it.
At first glance, it may appear zoning ordinances only regulate how your home can be used. But they can also regulate the minimum square footage of the property, its maximum square footage, number of levels, and how it needs to be oriented on the land. You'll even discover there are guidelines spelling out how your property needs to be set back from the road as well as how much distance their needs to be between your home and your neighbor's. This fact could drastically affect any future plans you may have for a sun deck or extra room.
Seek the counsel of a competent realtor or attorney to research the local zoning and municipal regulations of any of the following happens:
1) You Need To Operate A Business From Home - If you have an existing home business or plan to start one in the future, make sure you check the zoning restrictions to be certain one is allowed-especially if you're looking in zones designated as residential. The city has its own set of regulations regarding the operation of a home business. If possible, try locating residents who operate businesses from their home and see how cooperative the city is.
2) You Have Remodeling Plans - If you plan to remodel or add new structures, local zoning laws may severely restrict what you can do to change the property. Some local ordinances may restrict the addition of a second level.
3) Parking a RV or boat in your front driveway.
4) Your Home Is Designated As Historical - Historical home renovations are strictly regulated to maintain the original style and color.
5) You want to dispose of a tall tree.
6) Your remodeling plans are very unique or specialized.
7) You want to keep farm animals such as chickens or pigs.