Building Lots & Land Use


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Land UseThe county’s zoning and other rules help to maintain the character and quality of life in our neighborhoods. Contact the Department of Code Compliance if you have complaints about fences, sheds, home businesses, or other issues.

Accessory Structures

County rules allow accessory structures on residential properties, including:

However, these structures must meet with county rules on setbacks, location and permits.

To learn more about these rules:

Fences

Generally, on most residential lots:

  • Fences may be up to four feet tall in front yards.
  • Fences may be up to seven feet tall in rear or side yards.
  • Under certain circumstances, fences may be up to eight feet tall if built along a major thoroughfare, like the Fairfax County Parkway. (To find out if a street is considered a thoroughfare, call the Ordinance Administration Branch, Department of Planning and Zoning, 703-324-1314, TTY 711.)

For specific information about allowable fence heights on your property, call the Zoning Permit Review Branch, Department of Planning and Zoning, 703-222-1082, TTY 711.

Get a special permit for a taller fence
It is possible to build taller fences if you apply for a special permit PDF. Contact the Zoning Evaluation Division, Department of Planning and Zoning, 703-324-1290, TTY 711, for more information about the special permit process. 

When a building permit is needed
Building permits generally are not required for fences — unless they are taller than six feet. Masonry walls or fences require building permits prior to construction. Before putting up a fence or wall, call the Permit Application Center, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, 703-222-0801, TTY 711, to check if a permit is needed.

Other requirements
There also may be additional requirements if the fence is built in a Resource Protection Area or storm drainage easement. Contact Land Development Services, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, 703-324-1720, TTY 711, about RPAs and the Stormwater Management Division, 703-877-2800, TTY 711, about easements.

Home Businesses

Some kinds of home businesses are allowed with Home Occupation Permit, but clients or customers may not come to the house — with the exception of a licensed child care business and teachers, such as dance or piano instructors.

  • Home businesses may not display signs or store, display or sell goods on the property.
  • Repair and service businesses, such as car repair, car detailing or barbers, are prohibited.
  • You may need county permits or licenses to operate a home business.

For more information on how to get a Home Occupation Permit, call the Zoning Permit Review Branch, Department of Planning and Zoning, 703-222-1082, TTY 711.


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