Outside the Home


Animals

The type of animals that can be kept on a property, as well as the quantity of each type, is determined by the property’s zone district.

Planning & Zoning does not require permits to have animals, but we do require permits for structures associated with animals, such as barns, pens, runs, coops, beehives and the like.

  • Barns typically need a Building Permit, please see Barns
  • Beehives and chicken coops need a Miscellaneous Permit
  • Loafing sheds under 1,000 square feet require a Miscellaneous Permit, while loafing sheds over 1,000 square feet require a Building Permit
  • Pens and runs may need a Fence Permit, Miscellaneous Permit or Building Permit depending on the type of structure.

Structures for animals aren’t allowed in all zone districts. All of these structures need to meet required setbacks, height limitations and other regulations set by the zone district.

Regulations related to animals can be found in the Zoning Resolution in (a) the section pertaining to your individual zone district, (b) in the Administrative Provisions section outlining prohibited and permitted animals, and (c) in the Accessory Uses section related to urban agriculture (particularly coops and beehives). If you’re in a Planned Development (PD) zone district there may be specific rules and regulations in the Official Development Plan (ODP) governing your property.

Your HOA may have additional rules and regulations regarding animals. Planning & Zoning does not enforce those rules.

Applications and Documents

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Barns

  • Structures less than 200 square feet may fall under our shed requirements  
  • We require a Building Permit for all barns, barn replacements and modifications 
  • Barns are defined as buildings used exclusively for the housing and care of horses or other permitted livestock, and for the storage of feed, hay, other farm crops, and farm or equine equipment. 
    • Barns may not be used as a garage or as a storage shed for items not associated with livestock or farm crops.

All barns need to meet required setbacks and height limitations. Most zone districts have separate/larger setbacks for barns. Setbacks are how far structures need to be from the property lines. Both setbacks and height limitations are determined by your property’s zone district. Residential zone districts require there to be a house on the property before there can be a barn. Agricultural zone districts allow barns as a standalone use or in addition to residential uses.

Barns are considered accessory structures in most zone districts (except for Agricultural). The County has limitations on how much accessory square footage can be on a property. All regulations related to accessory square footage are in the Accessory Uses section of the Jefferson County Zoning Resolution and in our Accessory Square Footage Guide (PDF).

Barns are considered primary structures in Agricultural zone districts, which will trigger a review of the land disturbance/grading work through a Grading Permit or Notice of Intent. Projects that require grading more than a half acre of land will likely trigger those processes. Please see Engineering and Earthwork for more information.

Each zone district has its own regulations for how many animals and what types of animals can be kept. See Animals for more.

We recommend getting in touch with a Planner about your project and determine exactly which documents will be required as a part of the permitting process, as the requirements can change depending on the scope of the project and property characteristics.

Applications and Documents

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Decks

  • Decks less than 12 inches off the ground require a Miscellaneous Permit but do not need to meet setback requirements. They must be less than 12 inches off the ground on all sides.
  • Decks between 12 and 30 inches off the ground require a Miscellaneous Permit.
  • Decks over 30 inches off the ground require a Building Permit.

New decks, deck expansions, replacement decks and deck repairs for all decks require permits. In some cases we are able to waive some submittal requirements for deck replacements and repair work when we have an existing permit and site plan on file and the shape of the deck is not changing.

New decks, deck expansions and replacement decks may trigger Defensible Space requirements for properties in the mountains. Projects that require grading more than a half acre of land will likely trigger a review of the land disturbance/grading work through a Grading Permit or Notice of Intent, please see Engineering and Earthwork for more information.

Decks over 12 inches off the ground need to meet required setbacks and height limitations. Setbacks are how far structures need to be from the property lines. Both setbacks and height limitations are determined by your property’s zone district.

We recommend getting in touch with a Planner about your project and determine exactly which documents will be required as a part of the permitting process, as the requirements can change depending on the scope of the project and property characteristics.

Applications and Documents

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Fences and Gates

We require a Fence Permit for any fences above 42 inches tall. We include the height of any berms or grading beneath the fence as a part of the fence height. Fence height limitations are determined by your property’s zone district. Generally, fences over 42 inches in height are not allowed within a property’s front setback. For corner lots, fences over 42 inches are not allowed within Vision Clearance Triangles.

Gates across driveways and roadways will require additional approvals from your local fire district.

Applications and Documents;

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Driveways and Roadways

  • All new driveways and proposed modifications to existing driveways taking access from a County-maintained roadway require an Access Permit
  • All work and modifications to driveways within 15 feet of public roads or 25 feet of public arterials require an Access Permit
    • Measurements are taken to the edge of pavement or Right-of-Way, whichever is closer.

New driveways or access points to County-maintained roadways, or modifications to existing driveways, require an Access Permit. This is the process by which the County’s Road & Bridge division reviews access-related work to ensure it won’t interfere with drainage or culverts, plow operations or other roadway maintenance issues. This permit also ensures driveways and other access-related work comply with the County’s transportation standards, such as intersection spacing requirements.

Planning & Zoning and Road & Bridge have standards for culverts and driveway spacing which will be reviewed as a part of the Access Permit. Culvert standards can be found in the Building Permits Policy document under the Access Permits section, and driveway spacing standards can be found in the Transportation Design & Construction Manual and on the backside of the Access Permit Application (PDF).

Access Permits are sometimes completed in coordination with permits for land disturbance or grading work. Please see our Engineering and Earthwork page for more information. An Access Permit is required as a part of the Building Permit process for any new home on a County-maintained roadway, see our New Homes and Accessory Dwellings page for more information.

These permits involve having your Road & Bridge District inspect the area before work begins as a condition of being issued a permit, and again once work is completed. Please apply for the permit with Planning & Zoning before calling your district for an inspection.

  • Central and North JeffCo: Road & Bridge District 1 – 303-271-5200
  • South JeffCo: Road & Bridge District 2 – 303-271-5219
  • Evergreen: Road & Bridge District 3 – 303-271-5249
  • Conifer and South Mountains: Road & Bridge District 4 – 303-271-5243

Applications and Documents 

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Garages and Carports

  • Structures less than 200 square feet may fall under our shed requirements
  • We require a Building Permit for all attached and detached garages and carports

New garages and carports, whether attached or detached, require a permit. Replacement garages and carports require permits as well. Building Permits are typically a two-part process with reviews from both Planning & Zoning and Building Safety. Planning & Zoning reviews your project for compliance with zoning regulations, while Building Safety reviews your project for compliance with building codes.

All garages and carports need to meet required setbacks and height limitations. Setbacks are how far structures need to be from the property lines. Both setbacks and height limitations are determined by your property’s zone district. Residential zone districts require there to be a house (permitted use) on the property before there can be a garage or carport (accessory use).

Garages may not be in easements or floodplains. Easements are often found centered on lot lines for the purpose of drainage or utilities. Projects that require grading more than a half acre of land will likely trigger a review of the land disturbance/grading work through a Grading Permit or Notice of Intent, please see Engineering and Earthwork for more information.

We require all site plans associated with garages and carports to show how they will be accessed (i.e. where the driveway is). New driveways or driveway expansions may require an Access Permit (see Driveways and Roadways).

Garages and carports are considered accessory structures in most zone districts. The County has limitations on how much accessory square footage can be on a property. All regulations related to accessory square footage are in the Accessory Uses section of the Jefferson County Zoning Resolution and in our Accessory Square Footage Guide (PDF).

We recommend getting in touch with a Planner to scope out your project and determine exactly which documents will be required as a part of the permitting process, as those can change depending on the scope of the project and property characteristics.

Applications and Documents

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Home Additions

We frequently see Building Permits for the following types of home addition projects:

  • Garage expansions
  • Additions of living space
  • “Pop the top” second story additions

All home additions that involve moving, modifying or removing walls or windows, expanding a structure’s footprint, or changing the height or roofline or a structure require a Building Permit. Building Permits are typically a two-part process with reviews from both Planning & Zoning and Building Safety. Planning & Zoning reviews your project for compliance with zoning regulations, while Building Safety reviews your project for compliance with building codes.

Additions need to meet required setbacks and height limitations. Setbacks are how far structures need to be from the property lines. Both setbacks and height limitations are determined by your property’s zone district.

Additions may not be in easements or floodplains. Easements are often found centered on lot lines for the purpose of drainage or utilities. Home additions of more than 400 square feet typically trigger additional reviews for access, water, wastewater and fire district service. Home additions may trigger Defensible Space requirements for properties in the mountains.

Projects that require grading more than a half acre of land will likely trigger a review of the land disturbance/grading work through a Grading Permit or Notice of Intent, please see Engineering and Earthwork for more information.

We recommend getting in touch with a Planner to scope out your project and determine exactly which documents will be required as a part of the permitting process, as those can change depending on the scope of the project and property characteristics.

Bedroom Additions

Properties served by a septic system should ensure that any bedroom additions meet the requirements of their On-Site Wastewater Treatment Permit issued by Jefferson County Public Health. Typically these permits limit the number of bedrooms that can be on a property. The County defines a bedroom as any space with a door, window and closet, so watch out for playrooms, dens, offices or workout rooms that could meet this definition.

ADUs

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a secondary dwelling or accessory home on the property. Often ADUs are called mother-in-law units or granny flats. They are usually in basements, above garages, or in separate structures on a property. A space may be considered an ADU if there is a kitchen or large wet bar. Dwellings in Jefferson County are typically not allowed to have more than two kitchens.

ADUs have fairly strict size requirements, among many other regulations. The County also has limitations on how much accessory square footage can be on a property. All regulations related to ADUs and accessory square footage are in the Accessory Uses section of the Jefferson County Zoning Resolution. 

Before applying for a Building Permit for an addition to create an ADU, you will want to ensure that your plans comply with all of the ADU requirements, accessory square footage requirements, and requirements from your property’s zone district.

Garage Additions

Garages and carports are considered accessory structures in most zone districts, whether attached or detached. The County has limitations on how much accessory square footage can be on a property. All regulations related to accessory square footage are in the Accessory Uses section of the Jefferson County Zoning Resolution and in our Accessory Square Footage Guide (PDF).

Applications and Documents

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Pools and Hot Tubs

We require a Miscellaneous Permit for swimming pools (both in ground and above ground) and related structures (diving boards, ladders, etc.) of any size, as well as hot tubs and swim spas.

All swimming pools, hot tubs and related structures need to meet required setbacks and height limitations. Setbacks are how far the pool needs to be from the property lines. Both setbacks and height limitations are determined by your property’s zone district.

Applications and Documents

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Retaining Walls

  • Retaining walls less than three feet do not require any permits.
  • Walls over three feet must be designed by an engineer.
  • Retaining walls between three and 12 feet require a Miscellaneous Permit.
  • Retaining walls over 12 feet require special approval through a Variance or Minor Variation request.

The application materials must include the following materials:

  • Construction plans, including proposed wall height and how it will vary along its length.
  • Elevations showing top (TOW) and bottom of wall (BOW) for critical points along each wall length.
  • Supporting calculations demonstrating an adequate factor of safety with respect to:
    • Bearing capacity
    • Overturning
    • Sliding
    • Internal stability, including surcharge loads due to sloping backfill, adjacent vehicles and structures

Tiered walls must be at least four feet away from each other horizontally, and six feet away from each other horizontally if either wall exceeds eight feet in height.

All grading and erosion control work must be at least seven feet from property lines and at least 25 feet from off-site occupied structures. Roads and driveways may be exempted if the applicant adequately demonstrate that grading will not adversely impact adjacent properties or structures.

Projects that require grading more than a half acre of land will likely trigger a review of the land disturbance/grading work through a Grading Permit or Notice of Intent, please see Engineering and Earthwork for more information.

Applications and Documents

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Sheds

  • We require a Miscellaneous Permit for all sheds less than 200 square feet, less than 14 feet tall, or with less than 264 sq. ft. of roof plane area.
  • We require a Building Permit for all sheds over 200 square feet, over 14 feet tall, or with more than 264 square feet of roof plane area.

Sheds need to meet required setbacks and height limitations. Setbacks are how far structures need to be from the property lines. Both setbacks and height limitations are determined by your property’s zone district. Residential zone districts require there to be a house on the property (permitted use) before there can be a shed (accessory use).

Sheds may not be in easements or floodplains. Easements are often found centered on lot lines for the purpose of drainage or utilities. Projects that require grading more than a half acre of land will likely trigger a review of the land disturbance/grading work through a Grading Permit or Notice of Intent, please see Engineering and Earthwork for more information.

Sheds less than 200 square feet are considered mini-structures for storage, and most residential zone districts only allow for a cumulative total of 200 square feet of mini-structures for storage on a property. This means you could have a 200 square foot shed, or two 100 square foot sheds, but not two 200 square foot sheds. However, you could have one 400 square foot shed as it is not considered a mini-structure.

Sheds are considered accessory structures in most zone districts. The County has limitations on how much accessory square footage can be on a property. All regulations related to accessory square footage are in the Accessory Uses section of the Jefferson County Zoning Resolution and in our Accessory Square Footage Guide (PDF).

Sheds in agricultural zone districts may qualify for a waiver of accessory requirements if they are being used for agricultural purposes.

We recommend getting in touch with a Planner to scope out your project and determine exactly which documents will be required as a part of the permitting process, as those can change depending on the scope of the project and property characteristics.

Applications and Documents

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Shipping Containers and Conex

  • We require a Miscellaneous Permit for all shipping containers less than 200 square feet
  • We require a Building Permit for all shipping containers over 200 square feet, over 14 feet tall, or with more than 264 square feet of roof plane area.
  • We allow for one shipping container or temporary structure associated with a construction project that has an active Building Permit.

Shipping containers and Conex boxes need to meet required setbacks and height limitations. Setbacks are how far structures need to be from the property lines. Both setbacks and height limitations are determined by your property’s zone district. Residential zone districts require there to be a house on the property (permitted use) before there can be a shipping container (accessory use).

Shipping containers and Conex boxes may not be in easements or floodplains. Easements are often found centered on lot lines for the purpose of drainage or utilities. Projects that require grading more than a half acre of land will likely trigger a review of the land disturbance/grading work through a Grading Permit or Notice of Intent, please see Engineering and Earthwork for more information.

Shipping containers less than 200 square feet are considered mini-structures for storage, and most residential zone districts only allow for a cumulative total of 200 square feet of mini-structures for storage on a property. This means you could have a 200 square foot container, or two 100 square foot containers, but not two 200 square foot containers. However, you could have one 400 square foot shipping container as it is not considered a mini-structure.

Shipping containers and Conex boxes are considered accessory structures in most zone districts. The County has limitations on how much accessory square footage can be on a property. All regulations related to accessory square footage are in the Accessory Uses section of the Jefferson County Zoning Resolution and in our Accessory Square Footage Guide (PDF).

We recommend getting in touch with a Planner to scope out your project and determine exactly which documents will be required as a part of the permitting process, as those do change depending on the scope of the project and property characteristics.

Applications and Documents

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Solar Panels

  • Roof-mounted solar panels flush against the roof of an existing residential or commercial structure do not require any permits from Planning & Zoning. Electrical Permits from Building Safety are likely necessary.
    • These must be solar panels intended to serve primarily the property, and not intended solely to sell energy back to the grid commercially.
  • Roof-mounted solar panels extending up to five feet above existing structures require a Miscellaneous Permit. Electrical Permits from Building Safety are likely necessary.
    • These must be solar panels intended to serve primarily the property, and not intended solely to sell energy back to the grid commercially.
  • Commercial solar installations, intended to sell energy back to the grid, require going through a Special Exception process to allow for the use, followed by a Miscellaneous Permit.

All solar panel installations need to meet required setbacks and height limitations. Setbacks are how far structures need to be from the property lines. Setbacks for solar panels are taken from the edge of the panel, not from the support structure beneath it. Both setbacks and height limitations are determined by your property’s zone district. There are additional rules and regulations in the Alternative Energy Resources section of the Zoning Resolution.

Applications and Documents

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Sport Courts and Play Areas

We require a Miscellaneous Permit for sport courts, such as basketball, tennis, volleyball, badminton and pickleball courts, playground equipment, swimming pools, golf courses or other types of outdoor sports and recreation areas.

Parks and Recreation Districts and other government agencies may need to go through a Location and Extent process first.

All sport courts and play areas need to meet required setbacks and height limitations. Setbacks are how far structures (fencing, nets, pools, etc.) need to be from the property lines. Both setbacks and height limitations are determined by your property’s zone district.

Projects that require grading more than a half acre of land will likely trigger a review of the land disturbance/grading work through a Grading Permit or Notice of Intent, please see Engineering and Earthwork for more information.

Enclosure fences immediately surrounding tennis courts, batting cages, etc. shall not exceed 12 feet in height and must meet setback requirements.

Applications and Documents

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Temporary Structures

Temporary structures are only allowed in very limited circumstances. We frequently see the following examples:

  • A temporary sales trailer associated with a new subdivision
  • Temporary living in a recreational vehicle during the construction of a new home
  • A temporary storage unit during a large remodel or construction project

These examples, as well as most other temporary structures, require obtaining an Administrative Exception from the Director of Planning & Zoning, or a Special Exception from the Board of Adjustment (BOA) to allow for that special temporary use of the property.

Temporary structures may only be allowed for up to five years and require annual renewal. Temporary structures will need either a Miscellaneous Permit or a Building Permit following the granting of an Administrative Exception or Special Exception.

Applications and Documents

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Wind Turbines

  • Wind energy conversion systems (such as wind turbines) serving a residential or commercial use on the same property require a Miscellaneous Permit.
    • These must be wind turbines intended to serve primarily the property, and not intended solely to sell energy back to the grid commercially.
  • Commercial wind turbine installations, intended to sell energy back to the grid, require going through a Special Exception process to allow for the use, followed by a Miscellaneous Permit.

All wind turbine installations need to meet required setbacks and height limitations. Setbacks are how far structures need to be from the property lines. Height for wind turbines is measured to the top of the hub, not to the top of the blade as it is rotating. Both setbacks and height limitations are determined by your property’s zone district. There are additional rules and regulations in the Alternative Energy Resources section of the Zoning Resolution.

Applications and Documents

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