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Department of Buildings

In observance of the Emancipation Day holiday, DOB will be closed on Tuesday, April 16, 2024; no construction will be allowed on this day without an after-hours permit. You may report illegal construction by submitting an Illegal Construction Inspection Request Form during normal business hours or by calling 311.

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Zoning Resources

DOB offers additional zoning resources like sample zoning plans, Zoning Administrator Interpretations, and guidance to help your permitting and plan review process go smoothly. Please also check out our Zoning FAQs and contact us if you have further questions.

Sample Zoning Plans

View model drawings to see what is typically found in a building permit plan and the information contained in those drawings. Submitting complete plans will help the Office of the Zoning Administrator review process. On plans, show characteristics of buildings and lots including building height, yard setbacks, lot occupancy, penthouse placement, permeable paving, parking and loading space configuration, and other standards. If these characteristics are shown clearly in the drawings, zoning reviewers can apply the relevant zoning regulations and complete your review quicker.


Small Residential Development Sample Zoning Plan


Building Footprint: Residential Dwelling

The floor plan below for a residential dwelling:

  • Shows the building footprint at each floor/story
  • Distinguishes existing building from new additions
  • Includes dimensions of the perimeter building wall

Building Footprint- Residential Dwelling Example.jpg

Reference Sheet A300: Image may be downloaded.

Building Footprint: Building Elevations

The building elevation shows the:

  • Building Height Measuring Point (BHMP) at the top of the first floor and the total building height measured from the BHMP
  • Building height and number of stories are included, and includes Residential Flat (RF) Zones and the historic district illustrations of protected architectural features

Building Footprint- Building Elevation Example

Reference Sheet A300: Image may be downloaded.

Building Footprint: Building Sections

The building sections show the:

  • Location of the BHMP is shown in elevation
  • Building setbacks in the RF Zones and historic districts
  • Longitudinal and transverse building sections which are graphical slices through the building documenting the building height and stories, as well as the grading, areaway, and window well width

Building Footprint- Building Sections Example

Reference Sheet A301: Image may be downloaded.

Building Footprint: Site Plan

The site plan shows the:

  • Two-dimensional birds-eye view, which includes details not shown on the plat
  • Decks, porches, stairs, pervious and impervious areas are dimensioned fully
  • Roof plans include roof decks and railings, roof hatches, HVAC units, chimneys and solar arrays

Building Footprint- Site Plan Example

Reference Sheet A001: Image may be downloaded.


Multi-Family Residential Development Sample Plan


Building Blueprint: Building Plan with Inclusionary Zoning Unit

A typical floor plan should clearly show the unit number, the bedroom count, and identify the Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) units.

Building Footprint- Building Plan with IZ

Reference Sheet A2.13: Image may be downloaded.

Building Blueprint: Building Front Elevation

Each building elevation should clearly show the Building Height Measuring Point (BHMP). The total building height is measured from the BHMP to the top of the roof, and is dimensioned. The building elevation  documents the location of the BHMP in elevation and identifies critical penthouse setbacks, as well as the building height and number of stories.

Building Footprint- Multifamily Building Front Elevation

Reference Sheet A3.01: Image may be downloaded.

Building Blueprint: Building Section

The primary longitudinal and transverse building sections document building height, stories, penthouse and court height, penthouses setbacks, as well as ground-level grading, areaway, and window well width.  It identifies the location of the BHMP in section/elevation, and clearly shows dimensions of each floor level.

Building Footprint- Building Section

Reference Sheet A402: Image may be downloaded.

Building Footprint: Building Plat

The building plat documents the building footprint for assessment and provides the dimensions for the building area, front, rear, and side yard setbacks, court areas and penthouse setbacks. The plat also identifies the location of the BHMP in the building plan.

Building Footprint- Building Plat

Reference Sheet District of Columbia Office of the Surveyor Building Plat: Image may be downloaded.


Zoning Regulations


Zoning Administrator Interpretations

The Office of the Zoning Administrator provides zoning interpretations as additional guidance to applicants, when zoning regulations are unclear, in order to allow for consistency and transparency in the application of the zoning regulations. Interpretations may also be needed in cases where there is disagreement about the meaning or applicability of a particular regulation.

1: Roof Membrane and Building Height

The Office of Zoning Administrator measures both building height and the penthouse height from the roof slab level and not the surface of the roof assembly or membrane. 

View Full Interpretation


2: Balconies and GFA

View the ‘chargeability’ of the Gross Floor Area (GFA) regarding exterior and inset balconies, under the Zoning Regulations.

View Full Interpretation


3: Bay Windows

The Zoning Regulations are silent on bay window projections into yards or courts. 

View Full Interpretation


4: Meaning of Abut

The term ‘Abut’ is not defined in the Zoning Regulations. However, 11 DCMR B-100.1(g) directs the Office to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary for terms not defined in the B-100.1.

View Full Interpretation


5: Use of Parapet as Roof top deck Railings without Setback

Under Section B-308.3 of the DC Zoning Regulations, up to a four foot high parapet on a roof in an R, RF, or RA Zone is allowed to exceed the permitted building height.

View Full Interpretation


6: Pergolas and Trellis Cross Member Spacing to be Excluded from Lot Occupancy

In order for the framing of a pergola or overhead trellis to be excluded from lot occupancy, the cross members or lattice spacing of said pergola or trellis must be spaced greater than 24 inches on-center.

View Full Interpretation


7: Rooftop Architectural Element

The provision in the Zoning Regulations regarding the preservation of rooftop architectural elements in the RF- zones is as follows.

View Full Interpretation


8: Driveway Widths and One-Way vs. Two-Way Circulation

The Zoning Administrator has interpreted, in regards to 11 DCMR C-711.6(a).

View Full Interpretation


9: Rooftop Dining Areas Adjacent to Partial Floors

The scenario is distinguished from the use of a penthouse and adjacent building rooftop for bar and/or eating establishment use that is regulated under 11 DCMR U § 1500.3 (c).

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10: Demolition vs Raze for Zoning Purposes

From the Zoning Regulations perspective a complete removal of a building has certain Zoning consequences, because an existing building that is referenced in a Zoning regulation would no longer exist.

View Full Interpretation


11: Definition of Stove for Kitchen Purposes

A cooking facility is an a component of a dwelling unit under 11 DCMR B-100.2.

View Full Interpretation


12: Cellar or Basement over 6’6” where Slab is Lowered is not an Addition

Applicants proposing to change the headroom of an existing basement or cellar with substandard but pre-existing structural headroom of over 6 feet 6 inches must determine is such change constitutes an addition under the Zoning Regulations. 

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13: Microbreweries in PDR Zones

The classification of the principal use is based upon the percentage of the beverages sold to the patrons for on-site consumption.

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14: Signs Not Regulated Under DC Zoning Regulations

The current Zoning Regulations, DCMR Title 11, do not overtly address the regulations of signs. 

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15: Use of a Vacant Lot for Temporary Construction Activities is a Matter of Right Use

The use of a vacant lot for temporary construction buildings, such as a trailer, is allowed as a matter of right, under 11 DCMR U-202.1(o) in all R- zones.

View Full Interpretation


16: Closed Court Minimum Area- RA Zones

A court surrounded on all sides by the exterior walls of a building, or by exterior walls of a building and a side or rear lot lines, or by alley lines where the alley is less than ten feet (10 ft.) in width.

View Full Interpretation


17: Off Site Parking – Written Agreement

Required parking spaces are required to be provided at a location that is specified under the following Section, 11 DCMR C-701.8.

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18: Auto Rental Use as in NC Zoning District is permitted within the D, MU, and PDR Zoning Districts

A use that specializes in providing services, that includes rental of automobiles, falls under the “Motor Vehicle-Related” Use Category 11 DCMR Subtitle B-200.2 (v) (1).

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19: Attic Space of Less than 6 feet, 6 inches is not a Story

As set forth in Subtitle B §§ 100.2 and 304.7 of the Zoning Regulations, an interior space of a building is considered to contain gross floor area [GFA] when it has structural headroom of 6 feet 6 inches or greater.

View Full Interpretation


20: Accessory Apartment Uses in R-14, R-16 and R-21 Zones

Sets forth the minimum Gross Floor Area required for a principal dwelling in order to have an accessory apartment use for specified zones.

View Full Interpretation


21: Wesley Heights Overlay Map - Required Front Yard Setbacks

Section D-805.1, which denotes the Wesley Heights Overlay map entitled "Required Front Yard Setbacks” for the R-14 and R-15 zones, illustrates the required front yard setback dimensions.

View Full Interpretation


22: Recognition of Existing Record Lots Overlaid by Tax Lots

This interpretation summarizes a recent SOP between DOB's Office of the Zoning Administrator and the Office of the Surveyor regarding the condition of a Record Lot that is overlain by an Assessment and Taxation [A&T Lot] or Tax Lot.

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23: Vesting of PUD Order does not include Sheeting and Shoring nor Demolition Permits

The Office of Zoning Administrator has a long-standing practice that it will recognize a submitted building permit application that is considered complete for foundation to grade and/or new construction of the permanent building above grade.

View Full Interpretation


24: Difference between Balconies and Rooftop Decks

The Office of Zoning Administrator has had several applications where a portion of a top of a building is being used as an open balcony or deck which is adjacent to a partial top story at the same level.

View Full Interpretation


25: Fences Are Not Generally Subject to Zoning Review

The Zoning Regulations exclude fences from yard setback requirements under Section B-324.1.

View Full Interpretation


26: Automobile Elevators excluded from GFA Calculations

Section B-304.8 excludes certain portions of an interior of a building from the calculation of Gross Floor Area.

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27: Extended Stay Hotels

The Zoning Administrator has determined that a Certificate of Occupancy for an existing hotel would not need to be changed to allow an extended stay hotel operation.

View Full Interpretation


28: Accessory Building Summary – RF Zones

Because the Zoning Regulations contain several provisions regarding the regulation of Accessory Buildings, the Office of Zoning Administrator has summarized these regulations in RF zones for clarity.

View Full Interpretation


29: Allow Replacement of Accessory Buildings with Non-Conformities

The longstanding practice of the Office of the Zoning Administrator allows accessory buildings which are non-conforming, due to not meeting required yard setbacks and/or contributing to an excessive lot occupancy, to be razed and rebuilt to the same size (footprint and height) at the same location regardless of such non-conformity.

View Full Interpretation


30: ARTS District – Eating and Drinking Establishment Liner Street Frontage Regulation

Under Section K-811.9(a), the amount of street frontage for eating and drinking establishments is limited to not more than 50% of specified blocks in the Mixed-Use Uptown Arts Zones.

View Full Interpretation



Additional Resources and Information

Zoning Services

Learn about our Accelerated Plan Review Program, schedule a digital walk-through if your project meets specific requirements, and easily submit plan drawings online using ProjectDox.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions? Check out our frequently asked questions. If you don't find what you're looking for, contact us.