Common Questions

photo of non-compliant property

General Code Compliance

  1. Who Can I Call To Talk About A Code Violation?
    You may call any of the staff listed in this website. Code Compliance staff will return your call as soon as possible, but no later than the following day. We encourage you to leave your name, address and phone number so staff can respond to your inquiry in a timely manner.
  2. Am I Responsible For Pre-existing Problems On A Property I Purchase?
    Yes. As the owner of property, you are responsible for correcting any code violation associated with your property. You do have the ability to file civil suit against the previous owner who sold you the property in an attempt to be reimbursed for your costs if the owner was aware of a violation and did not disclose the information to you. This would be outside of any involvement with the County and would not excuse you from correcting any violation. Therefore, we always recommend you research the property before you complete your purchase. Depending on the request, research may include allowed uses of the property in the zoning district and building permits for any structures on the property, including additions, sheds, outbuildings and fences. Also, see closing documents or the Clerk and Recorder's office for any disclosure notices that may list important information. [NOTE: a title search will not typically reveal outstanding Land Use and/or Building Code issues.]
  3. How Can I Find Out If There Is A Land Use Or Building Code Violation Connected To My Property?
    Call the Code Compliance Section (498-7683) and request research of the subject parcel or print and mail the request form. Often times, if a property is for sale, a prospective buyer or buyer's agent may have already requested research of the parcel. Planning and Building Services Division records are open to the public. If the Division receives a request for information concerning existing Code Compliance issues connected to a parcel, all information of record must be disclosed. In addition, once a property owner is aware of an existing Code Compliance issue, the owner is advised he/she is obligated to disclose the violation to all interested parties (mortgage companies, title companies, appraisers, prospective buyers, etc).
  4. What Can I Do If I Believe Violations Of The Codes Exist?
    First, call Code Compliance staff to confirm whether the situation causes a violation of County regulations. Second, try to make contact with the responsible person. Describe your perception of the problem and how the problem affects you, then discuss possible solutions to the problem. Third, if you cannot resolve the issue, submit a complaint to the Code Compliance Section.
  5. How Are Code Compliance Staff Notified Of Violations?
    Code Compliance staff respond to written complaints, agency referrals and notification of possible land use or building code violations from other County staff (NOTE: if County staff, other than Code Compliance staff, refer an issue to the Code Compliance Section, and the issue does not directly affect the County employee's property, the complaint must be referred through the appropriate elected official or department head).

    Code Compliance staff also proactively investigate certain types of code violations involving threats to public safety and to certain situations involving illegal signs, illegal businesses (the County prefers to address these violations before a large amount of money is invested in a business that may not be allowed), or issues that have a significant, negative impact on surrounding properties, property values and/or the quality of life enjoyed by other owners in the area.
  6. How Do I Submit A Complaint?
    You may submit a written complaint, a complaint by phone, or a complaint online to the Code Compliance Section.
  7. Are Anonymous Complaints Accepted?
    Land Use Code complaints must be in written form unless the violation involves a life-safety issue; one that Code Compliance staff determines has a significant impact on the public, nearby properties and/or neighborhood; or illegal commercial activity such as an illegal business or sign. Complaint forms are public records subject to disclosure pursuant to state law.
  8. Does The County Regulate Landlord/tenant Issues?
    No. Larimer County does not have a housing code which regulates maintenance and repairs of rental properties. The County is subject to the International Residential, Building and Existing Building Codes. The County is limited to enforcing minimum structural standards for existing buildings. (i.e., if the structure, exclusive of the foundation, shows 33 percent or more damage or deterioration of its supporting members, or 50 percent damage or deterioration of its non-supporting members.) See also: the handout entitled: Common Code Compliance Questions
  9. Can I Use My Old Single Or Double-wide Mobile Home For Storage?
    No. A single-wide mobile home or similar structure that was NOT constructed or intended for the specific purpose or use as a storage building is prohibited from being converted and used as a storage building in Larimer County.
  10. Do Code Compliance Officers Patrol Areas Looking For Violations?
    The Board of County Commissioners determined some types of code violations should be reported on a "proactive" basis, which means Code Compliance staff will pursue investigation of issues without a written complaint if there is evidence to warrant investigation. Proactive investigations apply to threats to public safety and to certain violations involving illegal signs, illegal businesses (the County prefers to address these violations before a large amount of money is invested in a business that may not be allowed), or issues that have a significant, negative impact on surrounding properties, property values and/or the quality of life enjoyed by owners in the area. For example, Code Compliance staff will pursue investigation of issues without a written complaint in the following circumstances: 1) If a Code Compliance Officer or Building Inspector drives by a construction site that has not received final inspection approval or a certificate of occupancy, and observes the structure is being used and/or occupied; 2) if County staff (other than Code Compliance staff ) observe a violation of see a sales brochure or a newspaper ad that advertises an illegal business or other code violation; and 3) if a Code Compliance Officer drives by and sees an accumulation of junk and rubbish that, in the Officer's judgment, has a significant, negative impact on surrounding properties, property values and/or the quality of life enjoyed by owners in the area (high visibility ad high volume).

Building Code Compliance

  1. What Constitutes A Violation Of The Building Code?
    Construction without a valid building permit and building inspection is a violation of the Larimer County Building Code. Changing the occupancy of a structure or living in a structure without a valid building permit or certificate of occupancy are also violations of the Larimer County Building Code.
  2. What If I Don't Get A Building Permit?
    Obtaining a building permit, inspections, and authorization for occupancy is one way of obtaining assurance that your building is safe for your family and friends or your employees and customers to use. We encourage you to use the resources available at the Larimer County Building Department to be reasonably certain that your structure meets nationally recognized minimum safety standards. (See Request for Parcel Research) It is more than likely that at some time in the future someone will want proof that your building complies with local building codes. That 'someone' could be a potential buyer, a bank, or your insurance company. Your insurance company may not pay on a damage claim if it is found your building does not comply with local codes. In addition, you are more likely to be held liable for injuries to someone using your building if it does not meet required safety standards.

    If a building code violation is discovered that cannot be resolved, the County's legal authority to enforce building codes is contained in the Larimer County Land Use Code, the Larimer County Building Code and Colorado State statutes. Building code regulations may be enforced through civil or criminal court actions. Each type of court action can include the imposition of fines or imprisonment or both. Other enforcement remedies are also available.
  3. When Do I Need A Building Permit?
    Many homeowners are not aware when a building permit is required. Whenever a homeowner undertakes either renovations or additions to a structure or is installing or replacing a heating appliance, electrical fixtures or outlets, they must first obtain a building permit for the work. The reason for the permit is simple-to ensure structural adequacy of buildings, to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people and to ensure compliance with applicable regulations. Codes are ever-changing and sometimes a homeowner may not be aware of these changes. The permit process ensures that the work is performed properly. For more information, see When Do I Need a Building Permit and Accessory Structure handout.
  4. What Happens If I Start Construction Without A Building Permit?
    If you BEGIN construction without the required building permit, a 'Stop Work Order' will be issued. You will then be required to submit a plot plan of your property for pre-approval of setback requirements. After pre-approval is obtained, you need to apply for the building permit (even if the work is existing, you are required to submit complete plans or an evaluation by a Colorado licensed engineer) and may be required to pay additional fees which are generally the original building application fees DOUBLED. If there is a problem with setbacks, you may have to apply for a setback variance or move the structure so that it meets required setbacks. After the permit is properly issued, you may be required to uncover work that has been covered so it may be inspected. See Obtaining a Permit After Construction is Completed.
  5. Can I Change The Use Of My Barn Or Storage Building To A Residence Without A Building Permit?
    No. If you already have a residence on your property, it must first be determined if the addition of another residence will meet Land Use Code regulations. If Land Use Code regulations allow a second residence, it must be determined if the structure itself can safely be changed to a dwelling unit. This is done through the building permit process when building, fire, soil, transportation, sewer and sanitation issues are addressed. The most serious aspect of converting structures to living units without a building permit is that it often creates substandard, potentially dangerous housing. This can lead to tragic results.
  6. Can The Building Department Tear Down Dangerous Buildings?
    If the County determines a building or structure is dangerous, such that conditions or defects exist to the extent that the life, health, property, or safety of the public or its occupants are endangered, the building or structure can be subject to demolition pursuant to adopted codes. However, when beginning any formal enforcement action, the County must guarantee the responsible person due process. Due process requires reasonable notice and an opportunity for a hearing before the County can interfere with a person's significant property interest.

Land Use Code Compliance

  1. What Is A Land Use Code Violation?
    Issues involving illegal businesses, derelict vehicles, junk and trash, animals, two dwellings on one parcel or other items regulated by the Larimer County Land Use Code. Examples: 1) An owner obtains a permit for a garage behind their residence. On the permit application, the owner states the garage is for personal use only, however, when the building inspector conducts an inspection, he/she observes there is now a sign advertising an auto repair shop. This is not an allowed use in a residential area; 2) An owner converts a storage building into a second residence on his/her property. A building permit is required for this type of conversion and only one dwelling per parcel is allowed (with some exceptions); 3) An owner of a three-acre parcel has 10 horses on his/her property. This exceeds the amount of horses allowed.
  2. Am I Allowed To Have A Home Occupation?
    Home occupations are considered an accessory use and are intended to allow property owners the full use of their property while maintaining the integrity and character of the neighborhood. All home occupations must follow the requirements outlined in this handout.
  3. How Many Domestic Animals Can I Have?
    You can have as many dogs and cats (pet animals) as you want as long as they do not become a nuisance. See Section 4.3.12 of the Larimer County Land Use Code.
  4. My Neighbor Has A Bunch Of "junk" Cars On His Lot. Is This Allowed?
    A vehicle is considered junk when it is non-operable, unlawful or dismantled. Only those vehicles that do not qualify as junk vehicles and are owned by the occupant of the home may be stored outside as long as the vehicles are licensed, insured and operable, as outlined in Section 4.3.10 (E) of the Larimer County Land Use Code.
  5. How Many Horses Can I Have?
    Horses for the use of the occupant/guests are allowed in all residential zoning districts provided the number of horses does not exceed one horse per one half acre as outlined in Section 4.3.10(H) of the Larimer County Land Use Code.
  6. My Neighbor Accused Me Of Having Too Much Junk And Trash On My Property. It Is Not Junk To Me, But Valuable Items That Took Me 20 Years To Collect. Can The County Make Me Remove Anything?
    Any accumulation of garbage, trash, appliances, car parts, old furniture, scrap materials, etc., that is a visual blight to the area must be removed from the property or stored inside a structure on the property.
  7. My Neighbor Is Using His Property As A Dump Site. How Do I Report This?
    The Larimer County Department of Health & Environment (970) 498-6775 investigates illegal dump sites. If the issue is merely storage of junk and debris, Code Compliance staff will investigate. For reference, a "dump" is a place where people dump and/or bury trash that should be taken to an appropriate sanitary landfill site to monitor for odors, air emissions and ground water.
  8. Can I Live In An Rv?
    RVs (recreational vehicles) can be occupied for a maximum of 180 days (six months) in a calendar year. You can live in an RV while building a house (on the same lot), provided you have a current, valid building permit in effect during the entire time you're building and provided the RV is connected to the sewage disposal system that will serve the single-family dwelling or is otherwise approved by the Larimer County Health Department. See Section 18.3.5 of the Larimer County Land Use Code.
  9. Why Is There A Sign Code?
    Signs are regulated pursuant to Section 10 of the Larimer County Land Use Code. The purpose of this section is to provide the public and property owners with an opportunity for effective identification of uses and locations within the County, to avoid clutter and to protect and maintain the visual appearance and property values of the agricultural, residential, business, commercial and industrial areas of the County. Sign regulations are enforced in part, to avoid unfair economic advantages to businesses. (See also: Sign Code Handout)