The Build-To Requirement – A Different Sort of “Setback”

by Sean O'Hara on November 12, 2012

Pieces of land have zoning regulations that dictate what you can put on the site and where you can put it on the site. The most common regulation is the setback, which tells you how far from the edge of the property you can put a building. In more urban applications, we now frequently see a variation on the setback, the “build-to” line.

With a build-to requirement you are required to build a minimum percentage of the building at that distance or closer. Its designed to encourage street frontage and to put buildings at the front or the corner of the lot. Generally speaking, the build to line is fairly easy to work with unless you want to put your building at the back of the lot or you want to build a small building. I have seen this happen where the property wouldn’t work for a client because they wanted to build less building than the build-to required them to.


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