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January 7, 2010

Do Your Homework When It Comes To Farm Design

Photo courtesy of GH2 Gralla Equestrian Architects

Check back every Wednesday through Feb. 24 for our continuing series on Farm Design, sponsored by ViginiaCountryProperties.com.

These days, building a barn isn’t as easy as slapping up some walls and a roof and sticking a horse inside. Each state and county has different sets of rules and regulations regarding building, and it’s important as a property owner to know what you can and can’t do.

Zoning

The first step is to determine whether you can legally keep horses on your property. Zoning laws separate land into districts or zones according to use and tell you what you can build and where. Residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural are the four basic zones.

Even if horses are allowed, some regulations may keep you from building. Zoning laws and building codes often have specifics relating to the height, size and placement of buildings on your property. Some local ordinances determine how much land you need to house one horse and regulate how many horses you can have on your property. Some districts require an environmental review to make sure runoff from pastures doesn’t pollute waterways or neighbors.

Covenants

Covenants are agreements among a group of land owners, such as communities, home owner associations or common interest developments, that make decisions on what can and can’t be done in order to keep property values up.

Covenants often conflict with zoning. Rules can be restrictive to the lifestyles of residents and particularly to horse owners. In many such developments, your plans would have to be approved by a review board.

Take care when buying property that may fall under a covenant. While there are many benefits to living in such a community, it’s important to know all of the details before signing a contract.

Building Codes And Permits

Zoning laws tell you what kind of buildings you can have on your property. Building codes tell you where you can put it and how it should be constructed. They provide minimum standards for the materials and construction methods of safe buildings.

A building permit is a license to build or remodel your building as long as it is done according to code. Permits are required for any area where codes are in place. Permits are generally issued for a period of time, often 18 months.

Inspections

New and/or remodeled buildings need an inspection to make sure the project is in compliance with building codes and local ordinances. The inspector’s job is to make sure the building you are constructing is safe.

For information on local codes, contact:

County: county clerk, council or commission.
City or town: city clerk or council, building and zoning department, housing department.

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Farm Design
Horse Care
 

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