Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.
The Town of Vienna has strict lot coverage regulations for residential property. Lot coverage is identified as the footprint of a building and/or structures that permanently occupy a property divided by the size of the parcel; that includes the actual house, accessory buildings, driveway, sport courts, tennis courts, patios, terrace, screened in porch, sheds, and pools. The town coverage limit is 25% of the total lot for zones RS-10, RS-12.5 and RS-16. If you want detailed setbacks, requirements and zoning regulations for decks, patios, and pools, visit here.
In Fairfax County, even for Vienna residence that’s not located within the Town, the lot coverage is 30%. Fairfax also has strict guidelines on what counts and limitations, but you can also do different things to help offset that coverage.
Just to compare, in Arlington County, the max lot coverage is 45% and that can go up with a front porch, detached garage, etc.
Homeowners can certainly apply for a variance with the Town, but success with that is hard and certainly not guaranteed. You can contact the planning and zoning department if you have questions.
Why does the Town have a such a strict lot coverage? The Town aims to be an environmentally conscious community and the lot coverage helps with many of our environmental concerns: water run off, trees, etc.
The original homes in Vienna used to only take up 11-12% of the lot, so even renovations will be impacted by the coverage if you’re exploring that option. Many times when I’m doing an open house I have to educated buyers on this rule. Make sure you do your research before you start discussing big renovation ideas so you’re not disappointed!
What do you think? I can see both sides to this – I’d love for the Town to have some flexibility with homeowners who want to build an extra patio, or oversized garage, or a screened in porch, but I can also see the benefit of actually requiring some yard be left after building. It’s one of the reasons my husband and I moved to Vienna and left Arlington – a yard for my kids to play in (ironic that now we spend most of our time in the front yard).