No matter how big or how small your lot may be, you can bet the local municipality has a few ideas on what you can and can’t do with that property. Yes we live in a free society but we also live in a society with laws and guidelines and when it comes to building a new home as a real estate investment,watch for impervious cover restrictions the city will have a lot to say about the prospective property you’re thinking of building.

One of the things the city will definitely control concerns how much permanent structure can be placed on the lot. The term is called “impervious cover” because whatever is placed on top of the soil is impervious, which restricts water to pass through.

Impervious cover restrictions are issued as a percentage. For instance, a city building ordinance may have a 45% impervious cover requirement. If the lot is say 20,000 square feet, almost one-half of an acre impervious cover is restricted to 45%of 20,000, or 9,000 square feet. If the house you’re planning to build is say 5,000 square feet, you’re good. Right?

But let’s not forget about a sidewalk. And of course a driveway isn’t considered part of the home’s square footage but will count toward the impervious cover limit. What about that nice brick paver patio in the back? That’s counted. Pretty soon your impervious cover limits add up and if you consider all of the above you may find that you’ve already used up another 2,500 feet of space. You’re still okay so far. You may be but you may soon have to decide between an outdoor storage facility and a swimming pool because building both may put you over the limit.

How does a city know how much square footage you’re covering? They’ll know the minute they grant a permit for each and every improvement. It’s something you need to understand ahead of time and while most real estate investors never get to their impervious limit, it’s not hard to do if you’re not paying attention. If you’re not, the city will gently remind you.