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What is a Zero Lot Line?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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When one boundary wall of a structure is built right on the property line, it is said to have a zero lot line. This technique is used in both residential and commercial construction for a variety of reasons, with homes which are laid out in this way being referred to as “zero lot line homes.” In some regions, building codes may actually prevent people from building a structure which has this type of line, while in other areas, this type of construction may be permitted. Many housing developments and subdivisions apply for waivers of setback rules, if they exist, so that zero lot line homes can be built.

One of the main reasons to build right along the property line is to create more usable space on the lot, especially if the lot is small. A home with setbacks will be surrounded by several small patches of lawn or garden which may require a lot of work for minimal returns. By contrast, a home built right along the property line can have one large outdoor area, which is why such structures are sometimes called garden, patio, or narrow-lot homes.

Building along the property line can also be used to maximize indoor space by building a larger structure, or to eliminate the need for landscaping altogether by filling the lot, as is done with some retail businesses and town homes. A store, for example, might butt up against the sidewalk with walls which are very close to the property line, and a small space in back for parking.

Promoting zero lot line development can encourage people to use available land more efficiently, and it can sometimes be used to create more environmentally friendly designs by encouraging people to pool open space together to create park-like areas which create habitats. For example, homes in a housing development might cluster around a central common area, rather than each having a small yard. People can sometimes enjoy more privacy as well by pushing a home up against one of the property lines.

There are some distinct disadvantages to zero lot line construction. One of the big issues is that it is often not possible to include windows, as another structure may be right on the other side of the property line, and sometimes structures even share a wall in a zero lot line development. The lack of space can also become an issue during disputes over noise and land use, because there is no buffer between neighbors. Maintaining the exterior of the structure can also be challenging, as any sort of cleaning, maintenance, and construction will encroach on the neighboring property or public land.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon982237 — On Dec 17, 2014

I own two lots and am going to build a home on one lot with the driveway extending onto the second lot. How does this affect my property taxes? Will I receive two property tax bills or just one? We are using zero plot line, saving the hassle of spending a fortune to have the lots replatted. Any info would be appreciated! --New buyer in Indiana

By anon937932 — On Mar 07, 2014

I own a "twin villa" with one wall on a zero property line. Does my other property line have a zero property line also?

By Purple23 — On Nov 29, 2012

I have a house with a zero property line. The neighbor on the zero property line side has stacked many different "stuff" against the wall of my house. I am now trying to sell it, so does he have to move that "stuff"?

By anon285535 — On Aug 16, 2012

I bought a zero lot line townhome a few years ago. The townhouse next to me is owned by someone else and rented out.

A few months ago, the property owner made some improvements to the place and his painter splattered paint on my roof. I had to call the owner at least three times to get him to send his painter over to remove the paint. When the painter finally came back, it looks as if he took a can of spray paint and covered it up. The owner says this is all he is going to do. Would I have a case if I sued him? Just wondered if anyone else has run into this situation before.

By anon266606 — On May 07, 2012

I have a zero lot line next to my two-story house. My next-door neighbors are very mean spirited. My ground floor is beginning to bulge and I want to fix it. It needs to painted, too. My neighbor has planted a hedge right up on my wall and they won't let me in there to paint.

By anon163681 — On Mar 28, 2011

I just bought a 0 property line house in Fort Worth, Texas. I was way too far into this house before I found this out. Now I have my neighbor piling up dirt on their side of my house and planting monkey grass, even though it's already high and trying to work into siding.

they also planted shrubs on out to their sidewalk. this blocks me from spraying for bugs and termites and painting, etc. I also noticed more mice around the outside. I have bait boxes in a rural area.

Now she has put up a crystal gazing ball that reflects dozens of magnifying like lights on the brown monkey grass and my house. when i told them i felt this was a fire hazard, i was cursed out and told was stupid. please reply with any help.

By Moldova — On Aug 07, 2010

Icecream17- I just wanted to say that many of the new home sales have a zero lot property line.

The advantage of this type of property is that it’s generally more cost effective than a regular home. It also allows the home to be more spacious because most of the buildable land is used up.

The disadvantage is the proximity of the neighbors. Some view this as not enough privacy for their family. It also leaves a much smaller yard which may be a problem for family entertaining. Zero lot line home are not for everyone.

By icecream17 — On Aug 07, 2010

Many homebuilders build zero lot line houses in order to increase their profits.

They can build more homes in a given area of land that they can later sell to consumers. Also a zero lot line house is more affordable than a traditional home because the home's price is generally set regarding the amount of land.

In fact most of the value of the home comes from the land. Often the larger the lot of a home the more expensive the home is. Zero lot line houses are really popular in some suburban neighborhoods.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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