Residential Accessory Structures

Want to install a fence, shed, deck or pool?

For most regulations, you first must know what zoning district you are in. Required Location and Setback for Accessory Uses: An accessory use, building, or structure permitted in the R-1A, R-1B, R-1C, or R-1D Zoning Districts shall be located in the yard specified and no closer to the front, side, or rear property lines than the distance specified.


Height and Type

Chain Link Fences: Permitted in the side and rear yards with a maximum permitted height of 4 feet.

Open Fences: (any fence intended for decorative purposes having at least 50% of its vertical surface area open as viewed at right angles and uniformly distributed.) Permitted in front yards a maximum height of 3 feet (see Exceptions (b) and (c); permitted in the side yards a maximum height of 4 feet, and permitted in rear yards a maximum permitted height of 6 feet.

Solid Fence: Permitted in the rear yard with a maximum permitted height of 6 feet. See Exception (a) for front yards.


Fence means any accessory wall or structure composed of wood, metal, stone, vinyl, or other material erected in such a manner and positioned to enclose, partially enclose, screen, or divide any premises or part of premises. Trellises or other structures supporting or for the purpose of supporting vines, flowers, and other vegetation when erected in such position as to enclose, partially enclose, screen, or divide any premises or any part of any premises shall be included within the definition of the fence. Structures less than two feet in height, hedges, shrubbery, trees, bushes, and plantings shall be excluded from classification as fences.


The height of a fence shall be measured from the established grade line to the highest horizontal plane between the posts of the fence and shall follow grade contours as far as practicable. The height of the fence shall not include the posts or finials, except, however, that the posts or finials may not exceed the fence height by more than six inches. No berm, mound or base shall be created or constructed for the purpose of erecting the fence thereon so as to increase the permitted height of the fence from the level of the then existing grade unless otherwise required by a plan approved by the Planning Commission. Where a fence is constructed on a mound, or where the ground under the same has been raised to a higher level than the surrounding surface, the permissible height of the fence shall be reduced by the height of such mound or raised surface as measured from the ground level at the lowest grade level within three feet of either side thereof.


Fences shall be no closer than two feet to any right-of-way or sidewalk, whichever is a greater distance from the roadway. Setbacks from the side and rear property lines are 0 feet, but the entire post hole that is dug must be on the subject property, not straddling the property line. It shall be the duty of each property owner to determine property lines and to ascertain that the fence thus constructed does not deviate from the plans as presented and approved in the zoning permit and that the fence does not encroach upon another lot or parcel of land.


The side of a fence facing an adjacent property shall be the smooth finished side, as stated in Section 1226.03 of the Planning and Zoning Code. All diagonal or supporting members shall be facing the property on which the fence is constructed. All sides of a decorative wall shall have an equal level of finish.

Required Visibility at Intersections

On corner lots, no fence shall be erected within a triangle formed by the right-of-way lines of two intersecting streets, and a line drawn between two points, each measuring ten feet from the intersection of the right-of-way lines.


Where fences are erected and a water drainage situation occurs, such problem shall be alleviated or remedied by placing adequate outlets at the bottom of the fence to eliminate the possible accumulation of stagnant water or other undesirable conditions.

Temporary Fencing

Fences erected for a specific function and limited time duration are permitted as follows and in compliance with the following requirements. Temporary fences shall be maintained in good condition and shall not require a permit. No temporary fencing material shall be used for permanent fencing.

A.  Snow fencing:

1.  Shall be permitted November 1st - April 1st.
2.  Shall not exceed four feet in height.
3.  Shall be limited to fencing materials of burlap, plastic mesh fabric of a neutral or dark color, any clear plastic material or wood slat fencing (traditional snow fence) with wood or metal supports.
4.  Shall be erected on private property only and positioned on the site so as not to obstruct the view of pedestrians or vehicular traffic or be detrimental to public safety.  
5.  Shall not cause an artificial or unnatural accumulation of snow or drifting to accumulate on the property of another in excess of that which would otherwise accumulate in the absence of such fence.

B.  Construction fencing to enclose an active construction site for the duration of the construction period.


A.  In the front yard, along the front lot line, decorative walls constructed of brick, stone, or similar material may be permitted in excess of the three-foot height limit, provided that the portion of the fence greater than three feet in height shall not be longer than 25% of the lot frontage and shall not exceed a height of five feet.

B.  A four-foot open fence may be constructed in front of a dwelling provided that the length of such fence does not extend past the side walls of the house or across a driveway and provided it is set back from the right-of-way line a minimum of 75% of the minimum front building setback for the district.

C. Trellises up to 16 feet in total length may exceed the maximum permitted height when located in the rear yard adjacent to, and between the side walls, of the dwelling.

D. The requirements for swimming pool protective barriers shall take precedence where such requirements are in conflict with the regulations of this section.

E.  Where the side yard property line of one residential property is also the rear yard property line of another property, that portion of the fence in the side yard that abuts the adjoining property’s rear yard and that is installed at such property line shall be permitted rear yard regulations.


Each dwelling in an R-1A, R-1B, R-1C, or R-1D Zoning District shall be permitted to have a maximum of two detached accessory buildings. All accessory buildings shall only be permitted in the rear yard, except that accessory buildings shall be permitted in the side yard when located at least 50 feet from the side property line.

In the R-1A, R-1B, R-1C, or R-1D Zoning Districts, the setback is 3 feet from the side and rear property lines, in R-2 and R-3 Zoning districts, the setback is 10 feet from the side and rear property line provided no part of the building overhang the property line or cause water runoff issues.

R-1A and R-1B Districts - For dwellings with attached garages, the area of any one accessory building shall not exceed 500 square feet and the total area of both accessory buildings shall not exceed 1,000 square feet. For dwellings without attached garages, the area of any one accessory building shall not exceed 1,250 square feet and the total area of both accessory buildings shall not exceed 1,400 square feet.

R-1C District - For dwellings with attached garages, the area of any one accessory building shall not exceed 250 square feet and the total area of both accessory buildings shall not exceed 500 square feet. For dwellings without attached garages, the area of any one accessory building shall not exceed 500 square feet and the total area of both accessory buildings shall not exceed 650 square feet.

R-1D District - For dwellings with attached garages, the area of any accessory building shall not exceed 250 square feet. For dwellings without attached garages, an accessory building shall not exceed 500 square feet. Each dwelling unit in an R-1D District shall be permitted to have a maximum of two detached accessory structures and the total area of both accessory buildings shall not exceed 500 square feet.

Accessory Buildings on Large Lots  In any Residential District on lots of 1.5 acres or greater, an accessory building larger than permitted by the regulations set forth in Section  1224.01 (b)(11)(D) may be permitted in compliance with the following:

  • The accessory building shall have an area not to exceed 4% of the area of the rear yard, or 3,000 square feet, whichever is lesser.
  • On lots with an area of three acres or more, such accessory building shall be permitted in the side or rear yard.
  • Such accessory building shall be located no less than 150 feet from a public right-of-way and no less than 50 feet from a side or rear property line.
  • Such accessory building shall not exceed 24 feet in height but in no case shall the height of the accessory building exceed the height of the principal building.


Any constructed or manufactured pool, both permanent and temporary, not located within an enclosed building and which is used or intended to be used as a swimming pool in connection with residential dwellings and is available only to the residents and their private guests shall be classified as a private swimming pool and shall be regulated by the following. A swimming pool shall include pools, spas, and hot tubs and shall be defined as any in-ground, on-ground, or above-ground pool intended for swimming, wading or recreational bathing capable of containing in excess of two feet of water at its deepest point as determined by manufacturer's specifications. In recent years, many local discount stores have started selling portable or inflatable swimming pools. All pool regulations do apply to these portable or inflatable swimming pools if the swimming pool is more than 24 inches deep.

A swimming pool not exceeding 54 inches in height shall only be located in a rear yard setback from the property lines:

  • In R-1A and R-1B districts - 6 feet from the side property line and 10 feet from the rear line.
  • In R-1C and R-1D districts - 3 feet from the side property line and 5 feet from the rear line.
  • In R-2 and R-3 Districts - 10 feet from the side and rear property lines.

Usual and customary pool equipment and accessories (such as a pool deck a diving board or a filtration house), not exceeding five feet in height, shall only be located in the rear yard, but shall be no closer than three feet to any property line.

All swimming pool construction and operation shall be in accordance with standards and regulations established by the Board of Health having jurisdiction within the City, the Building Code, and any other governmental regulations governing the construction and operation of such facilities.

Any outdoor swimming pool, as defined in this subsection, shall be surrounded by a barrier that shall comply with the following:

  • Every swimming pool shall be completely enclosed by a fence and/or structure of sturdy construction at least 48 inches in height, measured from the ground level at each point along the boundary of such enclosure. The enclosure shall be of such design as to prevent young children from crawling or otherwise passing through, under or over such enclosure without the use of a ladder or other implement. Openings in the barrier shall not allow passage of a four-inch diameter sphere.
  • Solid barriers which do not have openings, such as a masonry or stone wall, shall not contain indentations or protrusions except for normal construction tolerances and tooled masonry joints.
  • Access gates into such enclosure shall be self-closing and have a self-latching device. The fence/barrier shall be equipped with at least one such access gate.
  • Where an above-ground pool structure is used as a barrier or where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure and the means of access is a ladder or steps, then the ladder or steps shall be capable of being secured, locked or removed to prevent access.
  • The required barrier must be installed prior to filling the pool with water.
  • A spa or hot tub with a safety cover that complies with ASTM F 1346 shall be exempt from the provisions of this section.

A building permit shall be obtained from the Zoning Department and the Building Department before construction of a swimming pool is begun and shall contain plans and specifications for both the pool and the fence or other protective barrier which the owner proposes to erect around the pool as well as a plot plan showing the location of the pool and barrier with reference to lot lines and other buildings on the property.

Lighting shall be shaded so as not to be a disturbance to adjacent properties.

Any sound of motor or pumps in such manner as to disturb the peace, quiet, and comfort of neighboring inhabitants shall be shielded to prevent such disturbances.


An unenclosed porch/deck attached to a single-family home may be erected within the required front yard or required rear yard, but shall not exceed 35% of the required rear yard area. The installation of removable screen panels shall not be interpreted as enclosing a porch.


A patio can be constructed in a rear yard. Paver patios also require Zoning Permits.


The maximum permitted coverage of the rear yard by accessory buildings and accessory structures (decks, patios, sidewalks, driveways, pools, etc. or any horizontal surface which is placed on or above the ground but excludes incidental structural supports, portable equipment, fence posts, garden lights, and other similar items.) are
(1)   R-1A: 40%
(2)   R-1B: 45%
(3)   R-1C: 65%
(4)   R-1D: 65%

A plot plan is a birds-eye view of your property. It will show your property lines, house, and any other structure placement on your lot. If you are looking for a plot plan, the building department may have a copy in the property files.


Paved area must be setback from the side property line for all districts 0 feet as long as no water runoff problem is created for the adjoining property. A Zoning Permit is required for new, widening, and replacing driveways to check for coverage issues. Any questions or concerns with drainage should be directed to the Engineering Department. 

Height of Building(s)

In Single-Family Districts R-1A, R-1B, and R-1C, the height of any principal building shall not exceed 35 feet. The height of any permitted accessory building or structure shall not exceed twenty feet (20'), and shall never exceed the height of the principal structure on the property. 

In Single-Family District R-1D, the height of any principal building shall not exceed 26 feet total height to the peak from the approved finished grade. A minimum 4/12 pitched roof will be required in the R-1D District. The total height of any permitted accessory building or structure shall not exceed 17.5 feet to the peak from the approved finished grade. In the R-1C Cottage District building heights shall be measured to the highest point on the roof structure.

In Mult-family Districts R-2 and R-3, the height of any principal building shall not exceed 45 feet. 

Building height shall be measured as the vertical distance from the average elevation of the finished grade to the mid-point between the eaves and the peak line of the highest roof for any sloped roof or to the highest point of a flat roof, excluding architectural features (e.g., vents, cupolas, weather vanes, chimneys, etc.), roof embellishments, or chimney extensions.

Exceptions to Height Limits

The maximum height limits established in this code shall not apply to:

A. Barns, silos or other agricultural buildings or structures on farms (not located in an improved platted subdivision) provided they are setback from all lot lines a distance equal to the structure’s height provided the Planning Commission approves such additional height as part of the conditional use approval;

B. Spires, belfries, cupolas and domes, monuments, chimneys, smokestacks, towers, water tanks, radio or television antennae, monuments, and other permitted mechanical appurtenances located upon or constructed as an integral part of the principal building;

C. Governmentally-owned freestanding water tanks, towers, radio or television antennae, and flag poles;

D. Special industrial or utility structures such as a cooling tower, grain elevator, and other similar structures where the industrial process requires a greater height may be erected above the maximum height allowed in the applicable district, provided that:

       i. Any such structure shall not occupy more than 15 percent of the lot area;

       ii. The structure shall be set back a distance equal to its height from any adjacent lot line; and

       iii. The Fire Department shall be required to approve the increased height based on firefighting capacity.

Ready to Apply for a Building Permit?

All structure building permit applications are available online at Access Our Avon Lake portal, Building Department.