What Are Building Restrictions?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
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  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2019
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Building restrictions are specific limitations found in various types of building codes and zoning laws. The idea behind these types of restrictions is to ensure a given geographical area of a municipality is set aside for primarily specific purposes and that the buildings constructed in those areas comply with those zoning restrictions. At times, the building restrictions will place limitations on the size and use of a given building, along with providing regulations on where those buildings may be constructed.

With building restrictions, it is possible for a municipality to have some control over how the city is laid out in terms of the concentration of commercial enterprises, manufacturing facilities, and residential neighborhoods. Depending on the range of building control measures that are found in the current limitations, this approach makes it possible to prevent a factory from being constructed in the middle of a residential neighborhood. By the same token, building restrictions would prevent the purchase of land for building a residence in the middle of a zone that is set aside for manufacturing plants.


Along with helping to manage where different types of structures may be erected, building restrictions also help to set limits on the uses for those buildings within certain areas. For example, it is not unusual in some municipalities for building codes and restrictions to prohibit a building that is near a house of worship or a school to sell adult products. Nightclubs and bars may be prohibited from being established within an area that is zoned for residential use only. The idea is to prevent the establishment of businesses in areas that would not be welcome by a majority of people who already inhabit those neighborhoods.

Even the size of new construction is often managed with the use of building restrictions and codes. Depending on the area involved, structures of all kinds may include only a limited number of stories or be allowed to only have a certain amount of square footage based on the size of the building lots. As with the other restrictions, this approach to building control is intended to maintain the purpose for the area and make it possible for the new structures to fit into the landscape with ease.

The severity of building restrictions varies from one municipality to another. In some locations, retailers and grocers are permitted to build or move into areas that are primarily residential, while in others the process calls for rezoning hearings and must have the approval of a certain number of residents. In urban areas that are attempting to revive downtown areas, the structure of building restrictions may make it possible for a broad range of residential dwellings, businesses, and retailers to occupy the same area. Typically, businesses will consult cities to determine if it is possible to become established in a specific section of the city before proceeding with buying or leasing the space.


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