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Zero-Lot-Line Homes: Spacing and Firewalls

When building a zero-lot-line home, a strong understanding of code requirements is critical. As space becomes restricted, additional changes to the home plan become more difficult after construction begins or once the home is nearing completion. Any misinterpretation of code can be costly for builders in terms of both time and money. One area we notice builders making mistakes with zero-lot-line homes is in understanding the spacing requirements of homes with regard to the need for firewalls.

A common misconception with zero-lot-line homes and firewalls is that as long as the home is a minimum 10 feet away from the next home, then those homes do not require a firewall. However, a closer look at the code shows that the true determining factor for the inclusion of firewalls is the distance from the home to the property line. This small misinterpretation can cause a host of problems including the need to retroactively identify proper placement for firewalls and how to achieve the necessary roofing ventilation.

It’s much easier to fix errors such as this prior to construction – during the planning stage. So, during the review of overall site plans for zero-lot-line homes or communities, remember that the need for firewalls is determined by the space between the home and the property line, not from one home to the other. To read more about the code, review section R302 Fire-Resistant Construction of the 2012 IRC.

If you have any questions about this or any other code requirement, just ask the Burgess Team. 888-644-6489 or


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