Where to find minimum lot size to build restrictions?

I have a lot I am doing diligence on that is quite small. It's 80" x 80", roughly 6400 sq ft or so (0.16 acres). I found the plat map for this subdivision from 1926. It looks like a whole subdivision and streets were planned, but nothing ever came of it. The lots are all individually owned and it looks like streets existed at one point (can still kind of see where they were on Google Maps), but are now completely overgrown. Legally I think I would have access, but I doubt I could drive to it.

I am trying to figure out if a residence can even be placed on a lot this small. All of the research I have done has yielded results that seem to be outdated and/or incredibly confusing. Can anyone tell me where to get official information on how big a lot needs to be to build on for a specific state or county?

Others will hopefully have more knowledge regarding your specific question than I do, but you might try getting on the phone with whatever city/county department handles building permits and inspections.

My first deal was a lot with pretty similar circumstances to what you described: subdivision from late 1930s that was never actually developed, tiny lots, deeded access on paper but in effect not really (per the original plat there was supposed to be an entrance by bridge over a creek and wetlands, but the bridge was never built so the only access today was by boat, across a fairly small lake). In my case, I got it so cheap and it was only my first deal, so rather than try to address issues with access and legalities of construction, I pretty much just skipped over any prospective buyers who expected me to work through those things and sold it as-is/where-is to a lawyer who wanted to build an off-grid cabin and was willing to do his own legwork on the legalities, and ultimately take a few risks, figuring he could represent himself in court if anyone every really challenged him on something. If you could have driven to the lot, and definitely built on it, it would have been worth well over $50k base on its location, but I knew at least one of those factors (road access) was something I would never be able to change personally, so I bought it for $200, listed it on Facebook for $20k just to see if anyone would bite, and ultimately sold it a few weeks later to my buyer for $8,300 cash.

Anyway, my buyer and I had several conversations about the property before and just after closing, and the local county building department was actually surprisingly helpful when he called them - explaining what he could and couldn't do on the lot in terms of construction, given the unique circumstances.

1 Like

My experience has been similar to @dl7573 - whenever I really want to know the answer (rather than wondering if I've found the right answer or interpreted it correctly), I call the local zoning and planning department to verify.

Sometimes this stuff is spelled out pretty clearly on the municipal website, but a lot of times it isn't (especially in rural areas). Don't be afraid to pick up the phone, it's a powerful tool.

1 Like

@retipsterseth At this point I think this county is getting pretty tired of seeing my name show up on their caller ID ha! Just called them again and got my answer. Thanks!

@dl7573 Thank you so much for that info. I'm glad that first deal was a big win for you!


@DanielC - atta boy!

@danielc You can usually find out in the Planning Department’s Zoning Ordinance on the county website. Even when I call and get an answer from the county employee I like to see the actual ordinance in writing.