Buildings are not only regulated by Zoning but also by other rules, such as the Fire Code, Building Code or environmental requirements. For waterfront residences, additional rules may apply. The purpose of all these regulations is to make sure buildings are safe for residents and neighbors and interfere as little as possible with natural resources and neighbors. Most construction activity requires a permit.
What can I build in a Zoning District for single-family homes?
- You can have one single family home for residential use.
Are there exceptions?
- Yes. If a building’s use or size was legal before Zoning went into effect in 1951, the use can continue and the building can remain.
- A property might have been granted a variance to address a unique condition of the property, or a special exception as defined in the Zoning Regulations.
How can I find out what my Zoning District is?
- The following Zoning Districts only allow one family homes: RA-3, RA-2, RA-1, R-20, R-10, and R-7½. You can look up your Zoning District on the City’s Zoning Map. For more information, please contact Zoning Enforcement at (203) 977-4711.
Can my grown children or elderly parents live with me?
- Yes. Relatives may live with you but you cannot divide your house into separate apartments (so-called in-law or accessory apartments) with separate entrances or kitchens. The home must be arranged for and used as a single dwelling unit with shared facilities.
Can I have more than one building on my property?
- Yes, but only one residential building is allowed per lot. In addition to the residential building, you may have accessory buildings such as a garage or shed if they meet zoning and other requirements. Accessory buildings cannot be in the front yard, and specific rules apply how much they need to be set back from the property line in the in the side and rear yards. These accessory buildings cannot be used as living space.
Where can I put a generator or condenser unit?
- Generally, for generators, condenser units and other structures, the same rules apply as for garages or sheds – see above question.
Can I have a business in my home?
- Generally no, but there are exceptions if you live in the building:
- Home Occupations, such as writers, artists, or telemarketers, are only allowed if the residential character of the building is not affected. No employees who do not live on the premise are allowed.
- Professional offices, such as doctors’, dentists’ or law offices are permitted if they are located within the residential building. No more than two additional staff are allowed on the premise. Four additional parking spaces on the property must be provided.
How big can my house be?
- That depends on the Zoning District and how big your property is. In each district, the footprint of buildings is a specific ratio of the lot size (“lot coverage”). Buildings may not exceed a defined height.
- Other factors might also limit the size and location of your buildings, e.g., wetlands, wells or septic systems.
- The table on the back of this page provides some basic information about buildings that are allowed in one-family districts.
I want to build an addition to my house, but it would violate the side or back yard setbacks. What can I do?
- You may be eligible for a zoning variance, which can be issued by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Can I rent out a room in my house?
- Yes, if you are the owner of the house and live in it, but you may only rent to a maximum of two people at a time. The rooms must be part of the house, i.e., they can’t have separate entrances or kitchens for exclusive use by boarders.
How much parking do I need to have on my property?
- You must have parking for at least two cars on your property.
I drive a truck for work. Can I park it on my property? Can I store material and equipment related to my business on my property?
- You can park only one light truck, which is ¾ ton or less, on a residential property. Heavy trucks, construction or landscaping equipment or material cannot be parked or stored on your property unless it is in conjunction with permitted work there.
Who can use the street space in front of my property for parking?
- In general, everyone can park on the street unless rules prohibit them from doing so (e.g., no parking zones or spaces reserved for the disabled), and if they are not blocking a driveway. In residential districts parking of trucks or heavy equipment not related to permitted work on the adjacent property is not allowed.
Where can I find more information about Zoning Regulations?
- Electronic version of the City’s Zoning Regulations and Zoning Map are available online. Hardcopies of the Zoning Regulations and Map are also available for purchase at:
City of Stamford Land Use Bureau
Stamford Government Center, 7th Floor
888 Washington Boulevard, Stamford, CT 06901
- If you have questions about Zoning please contact Zoning Enforcement at (203) 977- 4711.
How is Zoning enforced?
- Like other legal proceedings, zoning violations require a thorough, often lengthy investigation and collection of evidence that can be used, if necessary, in court. If you see or suspect a zoning violation, call Zoning Enforcement at (203) 977-4711.
- Fire and life safety issues, such as overcrowding, lack of fire exits or other unsafe conditions, are enforced by the Fire Marshall and Health Department and can lead to immediate action, if necessary evacuation of residents from the premises.
- Call 911 if there is or you suspect an immediate threat to life and property.
For issues other than zoning and life safety, please call Citizen’s Services at (203) 977-4140 (Mon-Fri 7:30-4:30 pm).
How Zoning Works in a R-7 ½ District on a Standard Rectangular Lot
Key dimensions for one family Districts in Stamford
of families per lot
stories / feet
coverage (all buildings)
Side yard, on
3 / 35’
3 / 35’
3 / 35’
2½ / 30’
2½ / 30’
2½ / 30’
* Both side yards combined must be at least 35’ in total.