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I found the perfect property. Should I buy it and start building?

4/9/2015 | Real Estate Blog

You have the idea for a new restaurant, recreational facility, condominium or office. You have even found the perfect piece of property. Standing in front of the for sale sign, you can imagine exactly how the building will look. You can picture the color of the brick, the direction the entrance will face and even how the landscaping will look.

Zoning is a “must consider” before letting your dreams push you into purchasing the property. Checking to see if the area is zoned commercial is not the only bit of zoning due diligence. What other zoning issues should you consider before buying a piece of property and building on it?

Zoning permits and approval are required for all new construction under the Philadelphia Zoning Code. This includes regulations involving:

  • The authorized use for the land
  • Height of all structures
  • Width of all structures
  • Building proximity to property lines
  • Setback from the street
  • Population density in the area
  • Number of rooms you expect to include
  • Where utility lines are or will be located
  • Proposed capacity
  • Environmental concerns
  • The amount of open space versus concrete
  • Number of allowable parking spots or off-street parking
  • Where signs can or should be placed on the property
  • Historical significance of structures on the property
  • The type of building materials you plan to use, including color of the building

Even if your project does not conform to the zoning requirements, you are not out of luck. You can request a variance for any aspect of the project that does not conform to the city code. This process is not simple or easy. Any number of things can go wrong and halt a proposed project, which is why you should have an attorney to help guide you at every step.