Zoning – allowable building height


Allowable height is separated into limits for the front 65% of the lot and the rear 35%. Most Denver lots are 125’, so these limits apply to the front 81.25’ and the rear 43.75’. As generally stated in the zoning code, the purpose of this distinction is to provide privacy in the back yards of these houses. The allowable height in the rear of the lot is lower to restrict overlook views by adjacent neighbors.

The heights are stated in two ways:

  1. Maximum allowable stories .. 2.5 stories for the front and 1 story for the rear.
    1. There is a huge amount of detail in chapter 13 but basically:
      1. The basement doesn’t count as a story unless it’s height from adjacent grade is fairly high.
      2. Likewise, a ½ story is rigidly defined.
      3. Experience shows it is possible to fit 2.5 stories in the front half of the lot, but ceiling heights can’t be over 8’-9’, the first floor must be reasonably close to grade, and the half story will have vaulted ceilings which need to start at 5’-6’ from the perimeter.
    2. A 2 ½ story house is inherently more economical per sf because the basement is smaller and a basement concrete foundation structure is more expensive than a frame structure. See the section on cost efficiency for more detail.
      1. Although a 2 ½ story house is more efficient from a cost viewpoint, it may not work the best for your life style. For instance, the upper level is separated from the second level. This means the bedrooms will be separated into two groups. Young children may need to be near the master and teenagers may need to be away from the master.
    3. For all these reasons, you may want a 2 story house instead. See the section on design efficiency for more detail.
    4. For that matter, you may want a 1 story house. See the section on design efficiency for more detail.
  2. Allowable height in feet .. 30’ in the front and 17’ in the rear.
    1. This requirement is more straight forward than the 2 ½ story section, although they amount to the same thing.
    2. All the rationale above applies.

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the above.

Steve Culbertson