Building Lots & Land Use
The 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.
County rules allow accessory structures on residential properties, including:
- Barns and animal shelters
- Children’s playhouse
- Garage and carports
- Lamposts or light poles (over 7 feet tall)
- Swimming Pools
- Portable storage containers
- Tennis, basketball, or volleyball courts
- Tree Houses
To learn more about these rules:
- Allowable accessory structures, setback, and location: Contact the Zoning Resource Planner, Department of Planning and Zoning Ordinance Administration Branch, 703-324-1314, TTY 711, or or read the county’s Zoning Ordinance (Chapter 10, Section 102) .
- Building permits: Contact the Permit Application Center, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, 703-222-0801, TTY 711, or get information online about when a building permit is required.
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 . 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.
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.
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.