The most common type of dwelling in unincorporated Larimer County is a single family home. Many of Larimer County's zoning districts allow one single family dwelling as the main use on a property. Generally, only one main dwelling (such as a single family home) is allowed per parcel, regardless of the parcel size. All other buildings on the property must be accessory buildings for the use of the people who live there.

  • Single-family dwelling: A structure designed, arranged and intended to be occupied by one occupant or living unit, containing a primary heat source and living facilities for sleeping, cooking, eating and sanitation.
  • Duplex dwelling: A structure designed, arranged and intended to be occupied by two separate occupants or living units, containing a primary heat source and living facilities for sleeping, cooking, eating and sanitation.
  • Multiple-family dwelling: A structure designed, arranged and intended to be occupied by three or more separate occupants or living units, containing a primary heat source and living facilities for sleeping, cooking, eating and sanitation.

This is based on the Land Use Code's definitions for single family dwelling, living unit and family. A single-family dwelling may be occupied by one living unit. See the Occupancy handout

  • Living unit: One family, plus up to two additional individuals whose place of residence is with the family in the dwelling unit.
  • Family: An individual or group of people living together who are related by blood, marriage or adoption.

Vacation or other rentals of single family dwellings for less than 31 days are not allowed in the unincorporated area of the county without review and approval by Larimer County. The Land Use Code addresses rentals in its definitions of dwellings. If a single family dwelling is rented, the rental period must be a minimum of 31 days. Use of a single family dwelling property as a rental unit cannot convert the property to a use contemplated by tourist or accommodation zoning, i.e. as a resort cabin, providing single night transient rentals. Resort lodge/cabins may be allowed through the Special Review process or other processes in certain zone districts. Contact Planning staff at (970) 498-7679 or via email for information about review process options.

 

FAQs

  1. Larimer County's Land Use Code does not prohibit "teardowns"-tearing down an existing home and replacing it with a new one. A demolition permit is required from the County Building Department for demolition of a primary structure. Please contact the Building Department at (970) 498-7700 for assistance.

    Be sure to check the minimum zoning setback requirements for your property so you'll know where a new building can be located on the site. If you intend to rebuild in the same location as the existing home, then you'll want to verify that its location meets the current minimum setback requirements before you begin any work to demolish the building. In some cases, existing buildings have non-conforming setbacks, meaning they don't meet the current setback requirements. If a non-conforming building is voluntarily removed/demolished, a new building cannot be placed in the same location without approval of a setback variance. For assistance with your setback or variance questions, please contact Planning staff at (970) 498-7679 or send an email.

    Some property owners want to live in the existing home while they are building their new home, and then remove the older home once the new home is completed. This type of situation can typically be handled through the building permit process.

  2. The answer will depend on your specific circumstances and intended use. Generally, only one main dwelling (single family home) is allowed per parcel, regardless of the parcel size. It's possible that one of the County's accessory dwelling options, such as an Extended Family Dwelling or an Accessory Living Area, may fit your needs. If your intent is to build a new dwelling with no size limits, occupancy requirements, or time limits, then a new separate building lot is needed. A land division application would have to be approved to create that lot.

    Our planners can help you determine the options available for your property and circumstances. You can reach Planning staff at (970) 498-7679 or via email.

  3. No more than 3 unrelated people may occupy a single family dwelling. This is based on the Land Use Code's definitions for single family dwelling, living unit and family— A single-family dwelling may be occupied by one "living unit". A "living unit" is defined as "one family, plus up to two additional individuals whose place of residence is with the family in the dwelling unit". A "family" may be an individual or a group of people who are related by blood, marriage or adoption. See the Occupancy handout.

  4. The occupancy requirements help to maintain the quality of life in single-family neighborhoods. Problems associated with too many people living in a dwelling include inadequate parking, additional traffic and changes in traffic patterns, trash, noise, water supply and inadequate sewage disposal issues.

  5. When a complaint is received, Code Compliance staff contact the property owner to explain restrictions and determine whether a violation exists. If there are more than the allowed number of unrelated people residing in a residence, staff will ask for voluntary compliance. In cases where compliance is not achieved in a reasonable amount of time, a public meeting before the Larimer County Board of County Commissioners may be held for a finding of a code violation and authority to commence a court action to enforce County regulations.

  6. Vacation or other rentals of single family dwellings for less than 31 days are not allowed in the unincorporated area of the county without review and approval by Larimer County. The Land Use Code addresses rentals in its definitions of dwellings. If a single family dwelling is rented, the rental period must be a minimum of 31 days. Use of a single family dwelling property as a rental unit cannot convert the property to a use contemplated by tourist or accommodation zoning, i.e. as a resort cabin, providing single night transient rentals. Resort lodge/cabins may be allowed through the Special Review process or other processes in certain zone districts. Contact Planning staff at (970) 498-7679 or via email for information about review process options.

    Resort lodge/cabins may be allowed through the Special Review process in certain zone districts. Contact Planning at (970) 498-7679 or email.

  7. In most circumstances the mobile home will have to be removed from the property. The owner of a property may live in a mobile home on that property while a new home is being built. This type of situation is handled through conditions placed on the building permit for the new home.

    Manufactured homes, including pre-1974 mobile homes, cannot be used as storage buildings, barns or garages. Manufactured homes are designed, constructed and intended to be single-family dwellings and cannot be used for any purpose other than single-family dwellings.

  8. In this type of situation, there are several possibilities for you to consider. It may be possible to add on to the existing home, remodel the home or finish a basement area with living quarters. You could also propose to have living quarters in a detached garage or other outbuilding (accessory living area). In some cases, a manufactured home can be placed on a property on a temporary basis for family members (extended family dwelling). You can find more details about these options on the Accessory Dwellings page.

  9. The allowed use of the building depends on the zoning of the property. If the property is zoned R-2 Residential or M or M-1 Multiple-family, then a duplex dwelling is allowed. If the zoning of the property doesn't allow a duplex dwelling, then it may be an illegal dwelling unit. You can contact the Code Compliance Department at (970) 498-7683 for assistance.

  10. An illegal dwelling unit is one built or occupied without obtaining the necessary land use approval and/or building permit. Some examples include:

    • an unfinished basement turned into a "mother-in-law" apartment
    • an apartment added to the second floor of a garage or outbuilding
    • a duplex changed into a triplex
    • a barn or garage converted into a dwelling unit, or any portion of a barn or garage converted into a dwelling unit

    See the Illegal Dwellings handout for more details, including steps needed to resolve the situation. Please contact the Code Compliance Department at (970) 498-7683 for assistance and information about permits/process.

  11. The first thing you'll need is to get approval of an accessory living area through the County's Public Site Plan process. Contact the Larimer County Planning Department at (970) 498-7679 or email to request a pre-application conference for the Public Site Plan process; you'll meet with a planner to get the details on the application requirements. We recommend that you talk with your water provider before submitting an application to find out if they will require a separate water tap for the accessory dwelling. It helps to be aware of those additional costs early on in the process, so you can factor them into your budget and your decision on whether to build or not. If your Public Site Plan application is approved, then you'll need to submit your building permit application to convert that part of the building into living quarters. We recommend that you talk with the Building Department staff at (970) 498-7660 to discuss your specific situation and building, and what you'll need to submit for your building permit application. You can also find helpful information about building code requirements by reviewing the Converting Existing Buildings Into Other Uses handout.

  12. The first thing you'll need is to get approval of an accessory living area through the County's Public Site Plan process. Contact the Larimer County Planning Department at (970) 498-7679 or email to request a pre-application conference for the Public Site Plan process; you'll meet with a planner to get the details on the application requirements. We recommend that you talk with your water provider before submitting an application to find out if they will require a separate water tap for the accessory dwelling. It helps to be aware of those additional costs early on in the process, so you can factor them into your budget and your decision on whether to build or not.

    If your Public Site Plan application is approved, then you'll need to submit your building permit application to convert that part of the building into living quarters. We recommend that you talk with the Building Department staff at (970) 498-7660 to discuss your specific situation and building, and what you'll need to submit for your building permit application.

  13. The County's Land Use Code has a simplified site plan review process for building accessory farmstead dwellings to be occupied by farm help (those residents needed to support the agricultural operation). Take a look at the information on the Accessory Dwellings page for more details. Contact the Larimer County Planning Department at (970) 498-7679 or email to request a pre-application conference for a farmstead site plan process. 

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Contact Planning Department

Larimer County Planning Department
200 W. Oak Street, Third Floor, Fort Collins, CO 80521
On-call Planner:
(970) 498-7679
Email Planning Department
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