When buying a home, open lot or commercial building, city and county zoning regulations mandate how you can use that property. You should also be aware of how the municipality zones surrounding properties to understand the makeup of the local community.

Real estate shoppers should familiarize themselves with these common zoning issues that may impact negotiations.

Future development

Your location’s zoning plan may dictate how many units can exist within the space, how many buildings can exist on the property, and the size and position of additional structures. Even renovations such as window and roof replacement or adding a porch or patio can potentially run afoul of zoning restrictions.

Animal ownership and enterprises

Local zoning law also governs home and business owners who plan to raise animals. In Collier County, you must have at least 20 acres to run a facility dedicated to milk production, ranching, egg production or kenneling, trading and/or breeding animals. On fewer than 20 acres, you may own up to 25 chickens, two horses and two cows or other livestock, except for hogs.

Non-conforming use and variance

When the property you plan to buy has components or structures that do not meet local zoning codes, you can apply for a variance in some circumstances. For example, the building may be taller than the zone allows or have limited available parking. If zoning changes, your business may no longer conform with the intended use, which is another common reason to seek a variance.

Historic regulations

In certain locations, the city may establish zoning codes to preserve the historic authenticity and character of a particular neighborhood. Before purchasing a building with historic zoning, check into regulations about how you may alter the property’s interior and exterior. For example, some districts and communities may limit the permitted paint palette to shades that fit the era.

Zoning law can be complex, especially for businesses with concerns about allowed use. When taking on a new real estate project, review the property’s zoning regulations carefully before moving forward.