Project Guide For New Construction on a Vacant Lot

This guide is intended to provide you an overview of the permitting process for new construction on a vacant lot or new construction following demolition of an existing structure.

NOTE:  A Certificate of Occupancy is required to complete the permitting process.

Help Me Get Started . . .

Before you start your project, you need to know what regulations apply to your property and what factors may impact your project. You'll need to consider:

Historic Landmark Status

If your property is in a local historic landmark district or is a designated landmark structure, the Landmark Preservation staff must complete a design review of your project before you begin. Use the DevelopDENVER tool to the right to determine your property’s landmark status. Changes to the exterior of landmarked properties require approval from Landmark Preservation prior to the issuance of appropriate zoning, building, curb cut, or revocable permits.   Visit the design review web page for more information.


Zoning establishes standards for things like the size and location of structures and acceptable uses for your property. Before you begin construction, you need to be sure your project is in compliance with Denver's Zoning Ordinance. Use the DevelopDENVER tool to the right to determine the zoning for your property. Once you've found how your property is zoned, you should look up your zone district in the Denver Zoning Code to see what that means for you.


Certain parkways and boulevards are specifically designated by ordinance to preserve their unique character. Each designated parkway has its own right-of-way width and regulations of setback distance of structures and signs. If you are unsure if you live along a designated parkway, use the DevelopDENVER tool to the right to determine your status.

Denver Forestry

If any portion of your project has the potential to impact the trunk, canopy or roots of the street trees around your property you must first contact  Denver Forestry  by email or by phone at 720-913-0651  to evaluate your project.  Any removal, trimming or planting of trees within the public right of way must be permitted through the City Forester’s Office.  Damages to street trees may result in the issuance of administrative citations and/or fines.  Visit the Denver Forestry web page for additional information.

Building Code

Denver Building Code provides minimum standards for building in order to safeguard public safety, health and welfare.

Location of Utilities

When designing your project, you need to know where utilities are located. You cannot build over existing utilities. Contact the Utility Notification Center of Colorado to mark underground utilities for your project. Call 1-800-922-1987 or 811 before you dig.

Location of Existing Sewer Lines

A plumbing contractor can help you locate the sewer lines on your property. If you plan to build a new structure over or within 2 feet of the existing sanitary sewer, you will need to replace the sanitary sewer with approved materials. Contact the Department of Public Works at 303-446-3759 for more details.


Transportation review and approval is needed whenever you are changing the location of your driveway or proposing any improvements within the Right-of-Way (ROW) such as changing the curb cut.  All projects performed in the City Right-of-Way must be performed in full compliance with the City Charter, Ordinances, permitting processes and all other applicable standards, specifications and requirements of the City and County of Denver.

  • Landmark Certificate of Appropriateness - required If location is within a Landmark District or if you live in a designated landmark structure
  • Zoning Permit
  • #1R Construction Permit
  • #11 Forced-Air Furnaces, Ventilation and Air Conditioning and Gas Piping Permit
  • #4 Plumbing Permit
  • #3 Electrical Permit
  • #2 Roofing Permit
  • Wastewater Sewer Use and Drainage Permit (SUDP) 
  • Parkway review - required if construction occurs in a parkway setback
  • Denver Forestry review - required in you are planting trees in the right-of-way or if your project will impact the canopy or roots of street trees.
  • Transportation review - required if construction requires a curb cut.  See Project Guide for Driveways for more information.
  • Right-of-Way (ROW) Permits - required for all proposed work within the ROW
    • ROW improvements must be performed by a licensed contractor

For Landmark Certificate of Appropriateness:

If your property is historically designated or located in a historic district, you will need a design review of your project to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness.  Visit the Design Review web page for more information. 


For Zoning Permit: 

Site Plan, scaled or fully dimensioned, showing the following:

    • Address
    • Location of all existing buildings (shed, garage, carport, patio, etc.)
    • Location of proposed project
    • Location and size of footprint of all existing and proposed structures in relation to property lines on the lot
    • Property lines and relation to streets and alleys
    • Elevations - depending upon scope of work
    • Primary street setbacks of adjacent properties if proposed project is to be located on the front side of the property
    • Base Plane Information:  Original grade spot elevations at intersection of side property lines at front setback  and spot grade elevations at rear corners of property if within 2 feet of bulk plane and / or height.

    Simple Project - One story, more than 5' away from property lines - only need site plan

    Medium Project - Exactly 5' from property line and height within 2 ' of the bulk plane - need Site Plan and Elevation Plans with base plane information for height and bulk

    High Project - Less than 5' to property line and/or the peak is perpendicular to the side property line - need the following:

      • Site Plan with base plane information for height and bulk
      • Elevation plans with base plane information for height and bulk

    NOTE:  An Improvement Location Certificate can be used in place of a site plan in most cases. 



For Transportation:

Include the following in the Site Plan:

  • Existing and proposed driveways including dimensions (Required by Transportation if there is a proposed driveway)
  • Proposed improvements in the Right-of-Way Survey (Required by Transportation if there are proposed improvements in the Right-of-Way)


For Building Permits:

Same information as required for zoning permit plus the following:

  • Floor plan with dimensions of each room
  • Foundation Plan including details on construction of the piers
  • Survey 
  • Soils Report 
  • Framing Plan  including size and spacing of post and beams
  • Roof framing
    NOTE:  If you are using roof trusses, keep the truss manufacturing specification on site for access by the building inspector. 
    NOTE:  If you are using dimensional lumber, provide the span, size, and spacing of the lumber.  
  • #11 Forced-Air Furnaces, Ventilation and Air Conditioning and Gas Piping Permit (PDF)
  • #4 Plumbing Permit (PDF)
  • #3 Electrical Permit (PDF)
  • #2 Roofing Permit (PDF) 
  • #1R Construction Permit - completed by Development Services staff 
  • Notification Letter

For Wastewater Sewer Use and Drainage Permit (SUDP): 

  • Utility Site Plan that includes the following:
    • Location of structures in reference to property lines
    • Sewer locations
    • Pipe sizes
    • 2-way cleanouts
    • Material for all existing and proposed structures from point of connection to the structure to the main
    • Water line locations with sizes
    • All existing and proposed underground and storm water/sewage drainage.

Wastewater does require sewer replacement with approved material for any structure being built over or within 2' of the existing sewer line.

Wastewater does require that historic storm drainage be maintained and not directed to adjacent properties or across public sidewalks.

If property is in a floodplain, additional submittal requirements apply.

For application, guidelines and other specific information, see the following:

Sewer Use and Drainage Permits (SUDP)


For a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Project:

  • Homeowners Exam for specific trade if completing the work yourself 
    (See DIY Projects for requirements and more information.)
  • Identification (i.e. Driver's License)

Estimate Fees

Zoning and Building  permit fees are based on valuation of the work to be completed including the labor and materials.   

There are no fees for Transportation, Parkways or Landmark review.

ROW permit fees are based on the amount of work constructed and the amount of time they are occupying the ROW.   

A forestry fee is assessed when applying for a new home.

For Wastewater, there is a $100 application fee plus other fees may apply.  The fees change annually. 

View the permit fee schedules to estimate the fees required for your project. 

Pay Fees

Fees can be paid in person at our office on the 2nd floor of the Wellington Webb Building or by mail:
Development Services
Wellington Webb Municipal Building
201 W. Colfax Ave., 2nd Floor
Denver, Colorado 80202
We accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover Card, cash and personal checks at our counter.

For Landmark Approval:

Submit a design review application to Landmark Preservation.  The approval typically takes one to three weeks. More complex projects or projects requiring Landmark Preservation Commission or Lower Downtown Design Review Board approval will take longer.

NOTE:   Obtain Landmark approval first before proceeding with other permits.


For Zoning and Building:

Plan Review - Submit all construction documents at the Permit Service Counter for review by City staff. Once review has been completed and all documents approved, permits will be issued.

Adjacent Property Owner Notification:

Where the project requires any type of demolition or excavation, builder must verify notification of all adjacent property owners by providing the City either the return receipt of certified mail delivery, or the signed receipt of personal notification.

Please note that  a permit will not be issued until 10 working days has passed since the adjacent property owner notification was made.


For Sewer Use and Drainage Permit (SUDP) :

Plan Review for all ADU

NOTE:  All documents can be submitted in person or online through the ePlan.


For Parkways Review:

Plan Review - If Parkways review is required, submit all construction documents at the Permit Service Counter for review by City staff. Once review has been completed and all documents approved, permits will be issued. The review process can take up to 30 days depending upon the complexity of your project.


For Transportation Approval:

No separate submittal is required.  The Transportation review  will be done with the Zoning and Building permit review.



For Denver Forestry:

Contact Denver Forestry by email or by phone at 720-913-0651 if project will impact the canopy or roots of street trees.  Allow about 3 to 5 business working days for inspections and approval.


For Right-of-Way:

  • Licensed contractor can obtain the ROW permits at Public Works Permit Operations at 2000 West 3rd Avenue or directly from the ROW inspector at (303) 446-3469.
All approved construction set of documents, permits and inspector signature card are to be available on site upon request. 

Typical inspections during new construction include the following: 



  • Footing
  • Foundation Wall and Foundation Perimeter Drain
  • Waterproofing
  • Frost Wall Insulation
  • Pre Construction Meeting
  • Bulk Plane Inspection
  • Setbacks
  • Rough Utilities (electrical, mechanical, plumbing)
  • Service Equipment
  • EFER
  • Pressure Test
  • Water Service
  • Final Utilities (electrical, mechanical, plumbing) 
  • Temporary Certificate of Occupancy
  • Blown Insulation
  • Roofing
  • Zoning inspection
  • Final construction inspection
  • Certificate of Occupancy


Wastewater Inspections:  

  • Wastewater inspection for new, replaced, or rerouted sanitary sewer
  • Wastewater review for storm sewer/drainage work as called out on permit
  • If construction occurs in a floodplain, additional inspections are required.
  • Wastewater final inspection - consists of inspection of the 2-way cleanouts and all storm sewer work and storm drainage from grading, downspouts, and storm work


For Right-of-Way:

  • Construction Engineering will inspect work performed in the ROW and check to see if ROW infrastructure was damaged during construction.


Denver Forestry:

  • Denver Forestry



NOTE:  The inspections listed above may vary depending on the complexity of your project. 

Who Will Be Doing the Work?

Decide whether you plan to complete the project yourself or hire a licensed contractor to complete the job for you.

Do It Yourself

Do-It-YourselfYou may need to pass a Home owners exam  to demonstrate proficiency in specific trades in order to get a permit to do the work yourself. 

You will also need to meet a set of requirements established by the Denver Building Code and the Building Department Policy ADMIN 131.3 governing homeowner completed work.  This policy can be found on our Building Codes, Forms and Policies page. 


Contractors Use the Contractor license search to see if your contractor has obtained a contractor's license from the City and County of Denver. 


To view other considerations, see our Doing the Work Yourself page.

Home Projects

Every project is different.  Depending upon the complexity of your project, the permit requirements and inspection process may vary from the information presented in this guide.  If you have any questions, please contact us.


What you need to know for your project!

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