Fire Ban in Place Across the Municipality: Learn More

Zero Lot Line Information

Download

Zero Lot Line Information Package
Printer-friendly version of this information.

Related Links

RMWB Land Use Bylaw 

The Alberta Building Code

A zero lot line is a residential development approach in which buildings are permitted to be located on one or more property lines with no yard between the building and the property line. Examples of typical zero lot line properties include single family homes, duplexes and triplexes.

Due to the May 2016 wildfire, several zero lot line properties require rebuilding. Several of these homeowners have expressed interest in rebuilding single family properties rather than the duplex or triplex they previously resided in.

The following information is intended to guide homeowners and contractors through the process of developing single family homes using a zero lot line development approach, while remaining compliant through the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s Land Use Bylaw and the Alberta Building Code. For more detailed information on developing on zero lot line properties, homeowners and contractors are encouraged to read and download the PDF version of the Zero Lot Line Information Package.

Contents

Alberta Building Code & Land Use Bylaw Requirements

Many times the Land Use Bylaw and the Alberta Building Code overlap and provide conflicting information, this is because they serve distinct and separate purposes. When it comes to the construction and spatial separation of buildings, the Alberta Building Code must be adhered to. Spatial separations will supersede the Land Use Bylaw setbacks if the setback is less than what the Alberta Building Code identifies as required spatial separation.

There are several possible scenarios that homeowners can exercise in rebuilding properties that allow for zero lot line development:

Option 1: Building with regular separations, 1.2 metres from the property line. This option is permitted under the Alberta Building Code and Land Use Bylaw.

Option 2: Building the wall between 0.9 metres and 1.1 metres from the property line.

For this option, the Alberta Building Code requires the following:

  • When the building design proposes an overhang (eave) then its projection needs to be at 0.45 metres from the property line which will position the building around 0.9 metres from the property line depending on the eave’s width.
  • There can be no windows on the impacted side, unless the window is protected by labeled closures that carry a 45 minute fire protective rating, such as steel roll shutters or wire glass glazing with steel frames. Note that there may be difficulty in achieving an energy rating on a window such as this.
  • The wall that has reduced the regular separation must have a 45-minute fire resistance rating on the inside of the wall (i.e. fire rated drywall). Additionally, exterior rated drywall must be provided under the combustible siding products and unvented soffit will be installed.

For compliance with the Land Use Bylaw:

  • A side yard variance is required to build at the reduced side yard
    • The Planning & Development Department will consider granting variances on those lots with a width less than 7.62 meters, or where a variance is a reasonable response to the physical characteristics of the lot which are not generally common to other lots in the immediate vicinity of the proposed use.
  • The owner must be able to access an area of 1.0 metres for maintenance.
    • Where the side yard is reduced to 0.9 metres or less, a maintenance easement agreement with the adjacent property owner is required. The area that an easement must cover depends on the size of the reduced side yard. For example, where the building is 0.9 metres from the property line, a 0.1m easement is required on the adjacent property to ensure a total area of 1.0 metres for maintenance.
    • The easement agreement must also specify that no driveways, vehicles, structures or storage of chattels shall be permitted in the easement area.
    • The easement agreement must be registered on title to the adjacent property and may be registered as an easement or by caveat.

Option 3: Building with zero separation from the property line, or closer than 0.8 metres to the property line.

For this option, the Alberta Building Code requires the following:

  • There can be no doors on the impacted side and the window is protected by labeled closures that carry a 45-minute fire protective rating, such as steel roll shutters or wire glass glazing with steel frames. Note that there may be difficulty in achieving an energy rating on a window such as this.
  • The wall on the property line must have a 45-minute fire resistance rating on the inside of the wall (i.e. fire rated drywall). Additionally exterior rated drywall must be provided under combustible siding.
  • No overhang (eave) is permitted.
  • Foundation footings can place over the property line to enable the building wall to be on the property line.
  • Soffits must be unvented.

For compliance with the Land Use Bylaw:

  • A zero-metre side yard is only allowed in certain districts.
    • An owner must review the Land Use Bylaw and Wildfire Recovery Overlay, and consult with the Planning & Development Department, to determine if their property is in a district that permits Zero Lot Line development or if a variance may be granted to allow building at a reduced side yard.
  • The owner must be able to access an area of 1.0 metres for maintenance.
    • Where the side yard is reduced to 0.8 metres or less, a maintenance easement agreement with the adjacent property owner is required. The area that an easement must cover depends on the size of the reduced side yard. For example, where the building is 0 metres from the property line, a 1.0 m easement is required OR where the building is 0.5 metres from the property line, a 0.5 metre easement is required.
    • The easement agreement must also specify that no driveways, vehicles, structures or storage of chattels shall be permitted in the easement area.
    • The easement agreement must be registered on title to the adjacent property and may be registered as an easement or by caveat.
  • Where foundation footings are proposed to be placed over the property line, an encroachment agreement with the adjacent property owner is required.

Building on the Adjacent Property

The three options above enable residents to rebuild without negatively impacting the neighbouring properties. Where the adjacent property owner also wishes to build a single detached dwelling, the adjacent wall of their structure must adhere to the spatial separations and requirements outlined in Option 1 or Option 2.

It may also be possible for an adjacent property owner to build a home that attaches to a neighboring single detached dwelling already built on the property line. Owners who would like to explore this option will need to contact the Planning & Development Department to determine whether this is an option for them.

When building on the adjacent property, care must be taken to prevent damage to a neighbouring home that is under construction or already complete. If damages are caused to a neighbouring structure, Safety Codes Inspections may be required depending on the nature of the damages caused.

Additional Options

There are two additional options for consideration, however, it is important to be aware that these options may negatively impact the rebuild options available on the adjacent property and for this reason, they are generally not recommended by the Municipality:

Option 4: Building the structure on the property line and have the eave overhang the property line onto the neighbouring property.

Option 5: Building the structure offset from the property line with the eave flush with the property line.

The separation must be maintained between the two properties in order to exercise this option. No driveways, vehicles or structures will be permitted in 2.4 metres of separation. With this option, registration of an easement on the neighbouring property to maintain separation would be required.

If the house is being proposed and there is a neighbouring property that has already started, special care and attention must be taken to prevent damages to the property where the work has commenced. All damages would be at the expense of the contractor that caused the damage. Depending on the damages, Safety Codes inspection(s) may be required.

For detailed information on these additional options, download the Zero Lot Line Information Package.

Building Code Reference

9.10.15.5. Construction of Exposing Building Face of Houses

8) Where the exposing building face has a limiting distance of not more than 0.45 metre, projecting roof soffits shall not be constructed above the exposing building face (See A-3.2.3.6.(2) in Appendix A.)

9) Where the exposing building face has a limiting distance of more than 0.45 metres, the face of roof soffits above the exposing building face shall not project to less than 0.45 metres from the property line. (See A-3.2.3.6.(2) in Appendix A.)

A-3.2.3.6.(2) Protection of Roof Soffits Near Property Lines. Sentences 3.2.3.6.(2) to (4) and parallel sentences 9.10.14.5.(5) to (7) and 9.10.15.5.(5) to (7) provide requirements for the protection of soffits where the soffit of the subject building is located close to the property line or to an imaginary line between two buildings on the same property.

Fire from inside the roof space of the subject building can exit unprotected soffits and expose the adjacent building to flames.

Land Use Bylaw 99/059 and Zero Lot Lines

Definitions

Zero Lot Line means a residential development approach in which buildings are permitted to be located on one or more property lines with no yard between the building and the property line.

Lot Width, Irregular means a pie-shaped or other similar irregularly shaped lots whereby either the front or rear lot lines do not meet the minimum lot width as identified in the appropriate zoning district.

In this case the lot width shall be determined by the distance measured 6 metres vertical to and at the midpoint of the front yard lot line between the side lot lines as shown in the figure below. The arc length measured at the curb shall not be less than 70% of the minimum lot width (Bylaw No. 04/012).

2.4m/0.45m Separation

For a reverse pie lot, the lot width is the horizontal distance between the side lot lines measured 22 metres from the front lot line. For other lots where the lot width cannot be reasonably calculated by these methods, a Development Officer shall determine the lot width having regard to access, shape and buildable area of the lot, and the lot width and location of buildings on abutting lots.

2.4m/0.45m Separation

Lot Width, Regular means a lot having both the front and rear lot lines as measured between the side lot lines that is equal to or greater than the minimum lot width as identified in the appropriate zoning districts.

Land Use Districts

96. R1S Single Family Small Lot Residential District

96.5 Site Provisions

In addition to the General Regulations contained in Part 5, the following standards shall apply to every development in this district.

  1. Side Yard, Interior (minimum): 1.2 metres The interior side yard may be reduced to zero on one side of a lot if the following conditions are met:
    1. The owner of the adjacent lot grants a 1.0 metre private maintenance access easement, including a 0.6 metre eave and footing encroachment easement, along the affected side of the lot. Such easements are to be registered by caveat against the title of the adjacent site.
    2. All roof drainage from the residence shall be contained to the lot and diverted to the municipal storm drainage system by eaves troughs and downspouts or other suitable means. Surface drainage to the adjacent lot will not be permitted.
    3. The development is designed comprehensively and comprises at least 12 lots.1

97. R2 Low Density Residential District

97.5 Site Provisions

In addition to the General Regulations contained in Part 5, the following standards shall apply to every development in this district.

  1. Side Yard, Interior (minimum): 1.2 metres, except for the following:
    1. For a semi-detached dwelling, one (1) interior side yard may be reduced to zero when a common wall is located on the property line
    2. For a triplex or fourplex, zero for internal units

100. RMH Manufactured Home Residential District

100.5 Site Provisions

In addition to the General Regulations contained in Part 5, the following standards shall apply to every development in this district.

  1. Manufactured Home Subdivisions
    1. Side Yard, Interior 1.2 metres on one side (minimum): 3.0 metres on second side **(Bylaw No. 00/073)**

The interior side yard may be reduced to zero on one side of a lot if the following conditions are met:

  1. The owner of the adjacent lot grants a 3.0 metres private maintenance access easement, including a 0.6 metre eave and footing encroachment easement, along the affected side of the lot. Such easements are to be registered by caveat against the title of the adjacent site;
  2. All roof drainage from the residence shall be contained to the lot and diverted to the municipal storm drainage system by eaves troughs and downspouts or other suitable means. Surface drainage to the adjacent lot will not be permitted;
  3. The development is designed in a comprehensive manner and is composed of at least twelve single family lots;1
  4. The zero lot line side shall not be located on an exterior side yard.

101. RMH-2 Small Zero Lot Line Manufactured Home Residential District

101.6 Site Provisions

In addition to the General Regulations contained in Part 5, the following standards shall apply to every development in this district.

  1. Side Yard:

    A minimum of 0.0 metres on one side and a minimum of 3.8 metres on the other side where:
    1. the owner of the adjacent site grants a 3.0 metre private access and maintenance easement which shall be registered against the title of that adjacent site;
    2. all roof drainage is directed from the building on to the building site by eaves troughs and downspouts or other suitable means;
    3. it is a requirement of this district that a minimum of twelve lots utilize the zero lot line concept before an area would be given approval;1 and
    4. on a corner parcel the zero lot line side shall not be located on the street side of the corner site.

This regulation is proposed to be removed as part of a Land Use Bylaw Amendment that will be coming forward to Council for their consideration.

Development Options

Option 1

Under Building Code Under Land Use Bylaw

1.2m/1.2m Separation

1.2m/1.2m Separation

1.2m/1.2m Separation

1.2m/1.2m Separation
Development Permit Implications

This option is permitted under the Alberta Building Code and Land Use Bylaw.

Option 2

Under Building Code Under Land Use Bylaw

1.2m/0.9m Separation

1.2m/0.9m Separation

1.2m/1m Separation

1.2m/1m Separation
Development Permit Implications

Lot A

  • No additional fireproofing measures required.

Lot B

  • When the building design proposes an overhang (eave) then its projection needs to be at least 0.45 metres from the property line which will position the building approximately 0.9 metres from the property line depending on the width of the eave.
  • There can be no windows on the impacted side, unless the window is protected by labeled closures that carry a 45-minute fire protective rating, such as steel roll shutters or wire glass glazing with steel frames.
  • The wall on the property line must have a 45-minute fire resistance rating (i.e. fire rated drywall inside and out).
  • Exterior rated drywall must be provided under the combustible siding.
  • Soffits must be unvented.

Lot A

  • Complies with the required side yard setback.

Lot B

  • Does not comply with the setback requirements of the Land Use Bylaw and would require a side yard variance.1
  • Requires a 0.1 metre private maintenance easement2 registered on title to Lot A. It is recommended that the easement agreement be registered on Lot A as an Easement; however, registration by caveat will also be accepted.

OR Lot B may increase the side yard setback to 1.0 metre. A side yard variance will still be required but there is no requirement for a maintenance easement.

Option 3

Under Building Code Under Land Use Bylaw

1.2m/Zero Separation

1.2m/Zero Separation

1.2m/Zero Separation

1.2m/Zero Separation
Development Permit Implications

Lot A

  • No additional fireproofing measures required.

Lot B

  • There can be no doors on the impacted side.
  • There can be no windows on the impacted side, unless the window is protected by labeled closures that carry a 45-minute fire protective rating, such as steel roll shutters or wire glass glazing with steel frames.
  • The wall on the property line must have a 45-minute fire resistance rating (i.e. fire rated drywall inside and out).
  • Exterior rated drywall must be provided under the combustible siding.
  • Soffits must be unvented.
  • No overhang (eave) is permitted.

Lot A

  • Complies with the required side yard setback.

Lot B

  • A 0 metre side yard setback is an option in some districts (an owner should review the Land Use Bylaw and consult with the Planning & Development Department to determine if this is an option for them).
  • A private maintenance easement2 is required to be registered on Lot A. It is recommended that the easement agreement be registered on Lot A as an Easement; however, registration by caveat will also be accepted.
  • The roof must be constructed with a pitch and direction that ensures all drainage is contained to Lot B.

Option 4

Under Building Code Under Land Use Bylaw

0.9m/0.9m Separation

0.9m/0.9m Separation

0.9m/0.9m Separation

0.9m/0.9m Separation
Development Permit Implications

Lot A & Lot B

  • When the building design proposes an overhang (eave) then its projection needs to be at least 0.45 metres from the property line which will position the building approximately 0.9 metres from the property line depending on width of the eave.
  • There can be no windows on the impacted side, unless the window is protected by labeled closures that carry a 45-minute fire protective rating, such as steel roll shutters or wire glass glazing with steel frames.
  • The wall on the property line must have a 45-minute fire resistance rating (i.e. fire rated drywall inside and out).
  • Exterior rated drywall must be provided under the combustible siding.
  • Soffits must be unvented.

Lot A & Lot B

  • Requires a side yard variance.
  • A 0.1 metre private maintenance easement must be registered on both Lot A and Lot B. It is recommended that the easement agreement be registered as an Easement; however, registration by caveat will also be accepted.

    OR

    If Lot A and/or Lot B increases the side yard setback to 1.0 metres, a side yard variance is still required but there is no requirement for a maintenance easement on the property adjacent to that with the 1.0 metre side yard.

Option 5

Under Building Code Under Land Use Bylaw

0.9m/Zero Separation

0.9m/Zero Separation

1m/Zero Separation

1m/Zero Separation
Development Permit Implications

Lot A

  • When the building design proposes an overhang (eave) then its projection needs to be at 0.45 metres from the property line which will position the building around 0.9 metres from the property line depending on the eave’s width (HOWEVER, to comply with spatial separations required by the Land Use Bylaw the building must be positioned further from the property line at 1.0 metres)
  • There can be no doors on the impacted side.
  • There can be no windows on the impacted side, unless the window is protected by labeled closures that carry a 45-minute fire protective rating, such as steel roll shutters or wire glass glazing with steel frames.
  • The wall on the property line must have a 45-minute fire resistance rating (i.e. fire rated drywall inside and out).
  • Exterior rated drywall must be provided under the combustible siding.
  • Soffits must be unvented.

Lot B

  • No overhang (eave) is permitted.
  • There can be no doors on the impacted side.
  • There can be no windows on the impacted side, unless the window is protected by labeled closures that carry a 45-minute fire protective rating, such as steel roll shutters or wire glass glazing with steel frames.
  • The wall on the property line must have a 45-minute fire resistance rating (i.e. fire rated drywall inside and out).
  • Exterior rated drywall must be provided under the combustible siding.
  • Soffits must be unvented.

Lot A

  • A minimum 1.0 metre setback is required to allow for maintenance.

Lot B

  • A 0 metre side yard setback is an option in some districts (an owner should review the Land Use Bylaw and consult with the Planning & Development Department to determine if this is an option for them).
  • Requires a 1.0 metre private maintenance easement registered on title to Lot A. It is recommended that the easement agreement be registered as an Easement; however, registration by caveat will also be accepted.
  • The roof must be constructed with a pitch and direction that ensures all drainage is contained to Lot B.

Option 6

Under Building Code Under Land Use Bylaw

2.4m Separation/0.45m Eave overhang

2.4m Separation/0.45m Eave overhang

2.4m Separation/0.45m Eave overhang

2.4m Separation/0.45m Eave overhang
Development Permit Implications

Where neither building has fireproofing measures in place, a minimum spatial separation of 2.4 metres must be maintained between the buildings.

Lot A

  • Complies with the required spatial separation.

Lot B

  • A variance would have to be applied for and approved by Safety Codes Branch.
  • A 2.4 metre easement must be registered on title to Lot A. The easement agreement must allow access for the purpose of maintenance and restrict any driveways, vehicles, storage or structures on Lot A within the 2.4 metre easement area. The easement must be registered on title to Lot A as an Easement pursuant to section 67 of the Land Titles Act.

Lot A

  • Complies with the required side yard setback.

Lot B

  • A 0 metre side yard setback is permitted in some districts.
  • Requires a minimum 1.0 metre private maintenance easement registered on title to Lot A (this requirement will be met by the 2.4 metre easement required above).
  • The roof must be constructed with a pitch and direction that ensures all drainage is contained to Lot B.
  • The encroachment of eaves onto Lot A must be authorized by the Lot A owner and an encroachment must be registered on title to Lot A.

Option 7

Under Building Code Under Land Use Bylaw

2.4m/0.45m Separation

2.4m/0.45m Separation

2.4m/0.45m Separation

2.4m/0.45m Separation
Development Permit Implications

Where neither building has fireproofing measures in place, a minimum spatial separation of 2.4 metres must be maintained between the buildings.

Lot A

  • Complies with the required spatial separation.

Lot B

  • A variance would have to be applied for and approved by Safety Codes Branch.
  • A 2.4 metre easement must be registered on title to Lot A. The easement agreement must allow access for the purpose of maintenance and restrict any driveways, vehicles, storage or structures within the 2.4 metre easement area on Lot A. The easement must be registered on title to Lot A as an Easement pursuant to section 67 of the Land Titles Act.

Lot A

  • Complies with the required side yard setback.

Lot B

  • A 0 metre side yard setback is an option in some districts (an owner should review the Land Use Bylaw and consult with the Planning & Development Department to determine if this is an option for them).
  • Requires a minimum 1.0 metre private maintenance easement registered on title to Lot A (this requirement may be met with the same easement agreement required above).
  • The roof must be constructed with a pitch and direction that ensures all drainage is contained to Lot B.

Variances will be entertained on lots with a width less than 7.62 metres or where “a variance is a reasonable response to the physical characteristics of the lot which are not generally common to other lots in the immediate vicinity of the proposed use” (section 28.1 (a) of the Land Use Bylaw 99/059).

The width of the private maintenance easement is determined by the district, and the setback that is provided. For example, if a minimum maintenance easement of 1.0 metre is required, but a 0.9 metre setback is provided on the subject property, then a 0.1 metre maintenance easement will need to be registered to equal 1.0 metre for maintenance.

More Information

Homeowners and contractors are encouraged to read and download the PDF version of the Zero Lot Line Information Package.

For questions, contact the Planning & Development Department at planningdevelopment@rmwb.ca or call 780-799-8695.

Wildfire Rebuild  [Learn more]