HIP Tool: Zero Lot Line Development

Zero lot line development makes use of flexible setback regulations or variances to allow single family homes to be sited on the property line, typically on one or more sides of the lot. This achieves compact development that maximizes usable lot space. Units can be detached or attached (e.g., duplexes, townhomes). Zero lot line development allows individual ownership of each unit/lot instead of condominium-based ownership of undivided land.


Zero lot line development aims to maximize land use efficiency through the orientation of the house on a property. In small lot developments, where land is at a premium, or where narrow lot sizes restrict infill development, zero lot line development maximizes the usable yard space, and depending on the site plan, can provide additional privacy in a dense neighborhood setting. Creating zero lot line standards in zones that permit denser single family units, townhomes or small lot development can further support those housing forms. Zero lot line development could be a component of a set of flexible development regulations.

The illustrations below provide examples of how a zero lot line development could be arranged. Other ordinances could allow a unit to be placed on more than one lot line.



HIP zero lot line image 2
Figure 2: Zero lot homes with private courtyard


Identify zones or neighborhoods of your community that could be improved by more compact single family development. These could include moderately dense single family zones or areas that transition from traditional larger lot single family homes to more dense single family homes or mixed-use areas.

Zero lot line ordinances can operate through development standards allowed in specific zones, or they can be applied through an overlay zone. Zero lot line ordinances also work well in combination with planned unit developments and master planned communities.

Tool Profile

Project Types

  • Single Family
  • Ownership
  • Market Rate
  • Subsidized

Housing Goal

  • Diversity