Buying a property is a large investment and should not be taken lightly. During the “Due Diligence” stage of property acquisition, there are several pieces of information you will want to compile to make sure the property will fit your long-term needs. This page outlines basic questions prospective property owners may have but does not cover everything.
What is the property zoned?
The first major question has to do with zoning. It is imperative to make sure the zone of the property allows for the use you plan to institute. Zoning also prescribes development standards, such as building setbacks, lot coverage maximum, building height limits, etc. that will impact whether or not additional structures can be built on the lot.
What are the surrounding properties zoned? What will they be used for?
It is also a good idea to research the properties surrounding the property you may purchase; if the land is vacant, you will want to make sure you are aware of any future plans for the area and if the land is already built upon, you will want to make sure you are aware of other uses that may be allowed should the existing use change.
To determine if the property has a master planA plan for the development of a portion of the city that contains proposed land uses, a generalized transportation system, and the relationship of the area included in the plan to surrounding property., concept plan, or development plan (more detailed plans regarding the site and types of uses) use the SpringsView application on the Land Use Review Division’s website.
To determine the zoning of the property, refer to:
Or call the Land Use Review Division.
Is the property a whole platted lot?
Another item to check during the research period is the legal description. The legal description refers to the exact boundaries of a property. It is important to find out if the property has been platted or has been illegally sub-divided in the past; if the property is not a whole platted lot, you may not be able to build on it unless a subdivision plat or other application is submitted first.
If the legal description has a lot and block number like the example below, the property is a whole platted lot.
If the legal description incorporates other language, such as in the example below, the property may not be a whole platted lot.
For more information, contact the Land Use Review Division.
What are the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC& Rs) for the property?
CC&Rs are recorded documents available at the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder’s Office. Not all properties are subject to CC&Rs, but it is a good idea to check with the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder.
Title information may indicate the existence of a CC&R that applies to your property. CC&Rs are the developer’s restrictions placed on the property at the time it is developed.
The City of Colorado Springs does not enforce CC&Rs—they are the responsibility of the Homeowners Association or Property Association organized for the property. It is important to understand that if something is allowed by City rules but not by CC&Rs, the City rules do not always supersede the CC&Rs.
Where do I find the El Paso County Assessor’s records for the property?
Just like the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder, the El Paso County Assessor’s Office has a wealth of information on properties within the County. The Assessor’s property database is available online and is searchable by parcel number, owner, or address.
Can I expand an existing building?
Whether or not an existing building can be expanded depends on several factors. Within residential zones, expansion mostly hinges on the maximum amount of lot coverage allowed and the required setbacks. To determine the lot coverage and setbacks of the zone district, see Property Zoning.
In commercial, office and industrial zones, building expansion may be a function of provided parking spaces, development plan requirements, and other standards. It is a good idea to set up a pre-application meeting with a planner in these cases.
Are there any open code enforcement cases on the property?
When property owners and/or tenants do not comply with City Codes and Regulations, the Code Enforcement Unit opens a case on the property. To find out whether any violations have occurred, contact Code Enforcement at (719) 444-7891.
Are there any hazards under the property?
Colorado is a state with diverse geology. As such, certain areas of the city exhibit geologic characteristics that are sometimes hazardous. Examples of hazards include abandoned mines, landslide susceptible areas, extreme slopes, unstable soils, etc.
For more information about geologic hazards, contact the Colorado Geologic Survey at (303)-866-2611. A Geologic Hazard Study may have been completed as part of the original subdivision or development plan. Check with the Land Use Review Division or the Engineering Development Review Division at (719) 385-5979 to determine. If a Geologic Hazard Study is on file.
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs also provides a public-use interactive mapping program. Visit the website here if interested.
Can I store my RV on site?
If you own a Recreational Vehicle, one of the items to research is whether the RV is allowed to be stored on the property. The City requires that any RV stored in the front yard must be stored at least ten feet from the edge of the sidewalk or nearest pedestrian way.
If no sidewalk exists, the RV must be at least ten feet from the curb nearest the front line of the property. In no circumstance can the RV be utilized as a dwelling unit while it is stored on the property, nor can it be permanently connected to wastewater, water lines or an electricity source.
Finally, the RV must be in a condition that provides for the safe and effective performance of its intended function. For more information, visit Section 9.6.504 of the City Code.