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Zoning and Building Codes

Zoning and building codes in real estate

In most countries of the world, buildings are built based on adequate planning and strict adherence to the health and safety of the community. Constructing a building on your landed property will require due diligence. This is to ensure the structure is an acceptable model in the area where your land is located. For example, if an area is earmarked for residential purposes, building for industrial use might cause problems for you with the local planning board and cost you more in the long run. Therefore, as a potential property owner, you must understand that certain rules or ordinances govern land use. These rules are called zoning and building codes ordinances.

Zoning basically has to do with the types of buildings that can be erected in certain areas and establishes boundaries between residential, commercial and industrial areas. It largely applies to the exterior and location of the building and regulates types of businesses allowed in an area, the extent to which a property can be built on, the kind of parking space needed, the size and shape of buildings that is acceptable, the number of units permitted on a property, the height of the building and even in some cases, the number of people that can occupy the property.

On the other hand, building codes majorly deals with ensuring that construction practices such as the structural design of the building complies with the set standard. It regulates architectural, electrical, carpentry, plumbing, framing and foundational specifications. For example, the codes regulate the standard size of a room, ensure that a proper drainage system is constructed and even state the area of windows for rooms. It also regulates the quality and resilience of building materials and basically states what is permissible and what is not when constructing a building.

Adhering to the zoning restrictions and building codes saves you untold headache. In some cases however, deviating slightly from the restrictions and codes is more advantageous. In such cases, you may apply for a variance permit as long as your plan is not injurious to your neighbors or the public since zoning restrictions and building codes were established with the aim of creating and maintaining a balance in community needs for recreation, agriculture, residential housing and commercial buildings thus promoting a conducive, livable and economically viable environment.

These standards are maintained in most nations of the world but in a country like Nigeria, it is obvious zoning restrictions and building codes have not been strictly adhered to. The establishment of businesses in areas that are supposed to be strictly residential, the poor drainage system in not just rural settlements but urban cities, the construction of storey buildings in areas that are meant for single unit bungalows and the statistical rate of building collapse are all indicators that the zoning and coding rules need to be revisited and enforced especially in a metropolitan city like Lagos.

Proper planning and an enforcement of these rules will lead to a positive ripple effect in the country such as reduced traffic congestion, an efficient GPS system, improved accommodation standards and preservation of the general well-being and health of the people.


  1. Why do we not adhere to building codes in Nigeria. The ministry in charge ought to do something.

  2. A lot of people dont know about this, and they just build. The government should do more to educate people on this.

  3. I need to find out more about this topic.

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