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Planning & Community Development

Planning & Community Development
frequently asked questions
Building a house, deck, Fence and more

Building on Property

Sample Site Plan

  1. What do I need to do to build a new house?
  2. May I live in an RV ?
  3. I want to add on to my house, where do I start? 
  4. Must my deck meet setback requirements?
  5. How may I find the Interior Drawings of my house?
  6. I want to put a separate (detached) building on my property, what is required?
  7. May I build an accessory structure on a parcel next to me, (contiguous) on which there is no structure?   
  8. I want to put up a Fence; what is the required height?
  9. I need to build a Retaining Wall.  What is required?

1. What do I need to do to build a new house?    Your first step is to draw, or acquire professionally drawn, "blueprints" (interior drawings of the house) and a Site Plan which will be reviewed for code compliance (land use code, universal building code, etc.) by various organizations.  In addition to site plan and interior drawing review, the Development Services Department requires that Driveway and Drainage Permits be approved.  Click on the previous underlined links to obtain the applications.  You may print them, fill in the information and bring to Development Services.  The Drainage Permit may be reviewed while you wait.  The Driveway Permit will take up to three (3) days.  You may also pick these up and fill them out at the front counter. 

     Site Plans and Permits have Fees which must be paid at the time of submittal.

     If your property is considered to be in a high fire risk area you will need to have the drawings reviewed by a Fire District/Department or the El Paso County Fire Marshall prior to submitting to the Development Services Department for review.

     Some areas/subdivisions require engineered site plans.  Prior to designing or submitting drawings for review, it's a good idea to call our office (719) 520-6300 to find out if you are in such an area.

2. May I live in an RV?    You may only live in an RV on your property while building your home, with an approved Temporary Use permit.  The site plan for your permanent residence must be approved and a building permit issued prior to obtaining your Temporary Use.  It is a good idea to apply for the Temporary Use at the same time you bring in your site plan.

3. I want to add on to my house, where do I start?   You must have interior drawings and a site plan showing the exact location of all structures on your property, where your driveway enters the property, setback and easements shown on all sides of your property lines and the dimension of each structure, including the New Structure you are adding to your home.  This review may also be accomplished over the counter while you wait, assuming all components are in place and shown on your drawings.  There is a Site Plan Review Fee.

4.  Must my deck meet setback requirements?    If it is attached to the home and over 18 inches in height the deck must meet residential setbacks. If it is attached and less than 18 inches in height it is not considered a structure and so has no setback requirements.

     If the deck is detached and over 18 inches in height it is considered an accessory structure and must meet the residential setbacks or those for an accessory structure, based on the zone district.  If it is detached and less than 18 inches in height the deck is not considered a structure and so has no setback requirement.

5. How may I find the interior drawings of myt house?     Most interior plans are scanned by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.  (719) 327-2880.  Buildings that are very old often don't have plans.

6.  I want to put a separate (detached) building on my property, what is required?   Requirements for detached buildings are the same as for additions.  The Land Development Code has specific requirements for size, height and Setbacks.  All this information must be included on your Site Plan and must be accompanied by interior drawings. 

 7. May I build an accessory structure on a contiguous parcel on which there is no structure?    Yes. Both lots must be under the same ownership and an Accessory Use  Agreement must be signed and recorded.  There must be a principal use on the main lot.  These will be tracked in the Development Services Department by creating a file containing both tax schedule numbers.  The lots are considered one lot, not two.  If the owner wishes to sell the parcel with the accessory use, the agreement becomes null and void and the property is in violation of the Land Development Code until a new residence is built.  

8. I want to put up a fence: what is the requred height?    Fences may be up to six (6) feet in height.  Any fence over six (6) feet is considered a structure and must have an engineered drawing and a site plan.  These must be reviewed by Development Services and Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.  A building permit is required.  If you live on a corner lot, fences must be shorter if there is a corner easement for sight visibility for the road. 

     You may put a fence on your property line, even though property lines are frequently the middle of an easement (most easements have the same amount of property set aside on each side of a lot line).  If the easement is needed, the dedicated easement user may remove or move your fence and is not required to put it back.

9. I need to build a retaining wall. What is required?   Some retaining walls require approval by Development Services Department & Regional Building Department.  Building code requires retaining walls be engineered and a permit obtained when walls are greater than four (4) feet in height. 

     A retaining wall six (6) feet in height or greater needs Development Services & Regional Building  approval, and must meet the accessory building setbacks.  If there is no special accessory building setback, then the regular setback requirements apply.

     Any wall that retains surcharge (pressure) requires engineering and permits, no matter what the height.

     A retaining wall less than four (4) feet in height needs no approvals, unless it retains surcharge.

     A retaining wall greater than four (4) feet but less than six (6) feet requires only  Regional Building approval.