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Single-Family and Duplex Projects

This page is intended to explain the review processes, permits and fees required for completing home improvement, construction or repair projects on single-family and duplex structures.

Every project is different.  Depending on the complexity of your project, the permit requirements and inspection process may vary from the information presented here.  If you have any questions, please contact us.

Factors That May Affect Your Project

Any project that involves changes to the exterior of a locally designated landmark structure or a property in a local historic district must be reviewed by Landmark Preservation before you begin. The appropriate zoning, building, curb cut, or revocable permits needed for the project will be issued only after design review has been completed and a certificate of appropriateness has been issued. To determine your property’s landmark status, use the DevelopDENVER map. Then, visit the design review web page for more information.

Zoning establishes standards for things such as the size and location of structures and acceptable uses for your property. Before you begin construction, you need to be sure your project is in compliance with the Denver Zoning Code. Use the DevelopDENVER map to determine the zoning for your property. In the results, click on your zone district for descriptions and definitions; then, click on your neighborhood context for more information on zoning in your area.

Any project that encroaches on a designated parkway setback will need to undergo parkways review. Certain parkways and boulevards are specifically designated by ordinance to preserve their unique character. Each designated parkway has its own right-of-way width and regulations of setback distance of structures and signs. If you are unsure if you live along a designated parkway or of your parkway’s specific regulations, enter your address into the DevelopDENVER map. After you have entered your address, look under “Designated Parkways” on the results panel on the left. If a specific parkway appears, click on the “Details” button for information on setbacks.

If any portion of your project has the potential to affect the trunk, canopy or roots of the street trees around your property, before you begin, you must contact Denver Forestry by email (forestry@denvergov.org) or phone (720-913-0651) to evaluate your project.  Any removal, trimming or planting of trees within the public right of way must be permitted through the City Forester’s Office.  Damages to street trees may result in the issuance of administrative citations and/or fines.  Visit the Denver Forestry web page and click on Property Owner Resources for information on hiring a licensed tree service company or requesting a permit.

The Denver Building Code provides minimum standards for building in order to safeguard public safety, health and welfare. The permitting and inspection process ensures that all home projects meet these standards and that all dwellings are safe and habitable at the time of construction.

When designing your project, you need to know where utilities are located. You cannot build over existing utilities. Before you dig, contact the Utility Notification Center of Colorado at 1-800-922-1987 or 811 to mark underground utilities for your project.

If you plan to build a new structure over or within 2 feet of the existing sanitary sewer, you will need to replace the sanitary sewer with approved materials. A plumbing contractor can help you locate the sewer lines on your property. Visit the Wastewater Sewer Use and Drainage Permits (SUDP) page for applications, guidelines and other specific information. Contact the Department of Public Works at 303-446-3759 for additional details.

Transportation review and approval is needed if you are changing the location of any driveways that connect to public streets or proposing improvements, such as changing the curb cut, within the “right of way” (ROW), which includes public streets and sidewalks. All ROW projects must be performed by a licensed contractor and in full compliance with the City Charter, ordinances, permitting processes and all other applicable standards, specifications and requirements. Licensed contractors can obtain ROW permits at Public Works Permit Operations, 2000 West 3rd Avenue, or directly from the ROW inspector at (303) 446-3469. NOTE: Alterations to a driveway that connects to an alley, instead of a public street or sidewalk, do not require transportation review.

  • Zoning and Building permits: Fees are based on valuation of the work to be completed including the labor and materials.   
  • Transportation, Parkways or Landmark review: no fees are associated with these reviews. 
  • Right-of-way permits: Fees are based on the amount of work constructed and the amount of time they are occupying the ROW.
  • Forestry review: Fees are assessed when applying for a new home.
  • Wastewater permits: There is a $100 application fee plus other fees may apply.  The fees change annually. 

View the permit fee schedules to estimate the fees required for your project and for information about method of payment. 

 

During and after construction, inspections may vary depending on the complexity of your project. You will be advised as to which inspections your project requires through the permitting process and by your inspector.

Visit our Building Inspections page for additional information. 

Are you getting ready to complete a home project and trying to figure out whether to hire a licensed contractor or complete the work as a do-it-yourself project?  Here are some things to consider:

 

Zoning & Building Permitting Guide for Residential Customers

For detailed information on zoning and building permits for projects on single family homes and duplexes, including minimum submittal requirements, download the Permitting Guide (PDF) for single-family and duplex projects. Please note that zoning and/or building permit applications for logged-in residential projects will only be accepted if the minimum submittal requirements outlined in the guide are met.

 
Types of Projects

Click below for information and instructions on specific projects.

Click for information on projects to rennovate or repair interior features of a structure:

Click for information on projects to build, rennovate or repair exterior features of a structure, including work on sidewalks, driveways, garages and accessory structures: 

Click for information on building a new home on an empty lot, a new detached accessory dwelling unit or the expansion of an existing home (including habitable and non-habitable space additions): 

Click for information on the review and permitting process for total demolition:

Work that involves structural changes to your home, such as new doors, new windows, or a change in layout, requires a building permit. Roofing work and work that involves new or relocated electrical, plumbing or HVAC fixtures requires a trade-specific quick permit.

That leaves numerous other projects that don’t involve permits or reviews. Many such projects are listed below. If you don’t see your project listed or an unsure about whether you need a permit, contact the residential team.

No permits or reviews are required for:

  • Painting (interior and exterior)
  • Papering
  • Tiling
  • Floor coverings
  • Refinishing wood floors
  • Countertops
  • Carpeting
  • Cabinets
  • Curtains or drapes
  • Replacing like-for-like electrical fixtures, such as lights, outlets, or ceiling fans
  • Replacing like-for-like plumbing fixtures, such as faucets, sinks, or pipes
  • Reconnecting furnaces, air conditioning units, boilers, or electric water heaters
  • General repairs that do not involve altering or changing the existing plumbing or electrical system
  • Drywall, if patching or replacing one sheet no larger than 4 feet by 8 feet
  • Installing entertainment centers and bookcases, provided that no new electrical outlets are involved

NOTE: A wastewater, zoning, or fire permit may be required even if a building permit is not. If you have questions about permit requirements, please contact Development Services staff.

Information from Other Agencies

Click below for additional requirements, services and programs administered by agencies other than Denver Development Services.

The Denver Energy Challenge is designed to make energy upgrades easy and accessible so homeowners and renters can reap the benefits of increased comfort, lower bills and reduced energy usage.  

Learn more at www.denverenergy.org.

The Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA) was created by the City & County of Denver to provide low-interest loans and grants to low and moderate income Denver residents for home rehabilitation and emergency repairs through the Office of Economic Development.  

Learn more at www.renewdenver.org.

Click below for building guides from the Colorado Chapter of the International Code Council for various home projects including basement finishes, garages, decks, additions, patio covers, patio enclosures and roofing:

 

 
Types of Permits & Reviews

Click below for information on what different types of permits and reviews entail, submittal requirements, checking in at the permit counter, and additional services available through the Accela Citizen Access portal. 

These are trade-specific permits that may be obtained within two or three business days via e-mail or at the permit counter for same-day service. Examples include minor electrical work, roofing and siding.

Customers seeking quick permits for work on landmark or historic district structures should submit the quick review application form (PDF) to Landmark Preservation staff via email (landmark@denvergov.org). These applications are typically processed within one business day of receipt.

Learn more at DenverGov.org/quick permits.

Walk-Through review applies to simple single-family or duplex projects that may involve reviews for zoning and building code compliance and that are completed at the permit counter in a single visit. 

Two walk-through queues serve simple single-family home or duplex projects:  

  • Single-Family/Duplex Walk Thru – Express: For fences, interior renovations and demolition permits
  • Single-Family/duplex Walk Thru – All Others: For single-family and duplex projects not identified in the ‘Express’ queue that meet the requirements for walk through review per Building Code Policy ADMIN 131.

If the structure is in a historic district or a landmark structure, prior approval is required from Landmark Preservation.

Projects that do not meet walk-through requirements, must be logged in for review.

A review that requires droping off plans for more complex single-family and duplex projects. Staff will provide an estimated review completion date.

Examples of single-family and duplex projects requiring log-in include new single-unit dwellings, new duplexes, any additions, and attic conversions. Zoning and/or building permit applications for logged-in residential projects will only be accepted if minimum submittal requirements are met, as outlined in the Residential Permitting Guide (PDF).  

Click below for permit counter hours, specific service times, submittal requirements and to sign in online:

  • PERMIT COUNTER CHECK-IN

Click below for the e-permits portal, where you can submit an application, check the status of a pending review, schedule an inspection, search for a contractor, verify the status of a contractor's license, pay fees, download permits, and more. 

Helpful Tools

Click below for helpful guides that will walk you through the permitting process for building and zoning, define zoning terms, concepts and requirements, and save you time by ensuring your submittals are complete and correct the first time. 

All links are PDFs

Use the  DevelopDENVER mapping tool to view property details including zoning, landmark status, inspector districts and more: