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The Zoning Department is Step One of a Home Remodel in Wilmington, NC!

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Thinking about adding on to your home in Wilmington, NC?


Let the staff at Avocet Design Build shed some light on the process of where to begin in New Hanover County with the Zoning Department.

Chris Pasch working

Many homeowners are asking us the question? “Can I add on to my home in Wilmington, NC?” The right place to start begins with the County or City Zoning Department. One of the first things we do at Avocet Design Build when a prospective client calls about an addition or an ADU is to start at the Zoning Department of New Hanover or Pender County. You are welcome to go in person and speak with a Zoning Official or visit them online. The Zoning Maps are also usually accessible online. If you live within the City limits, you will need approval from the City Zoning first and then apply for a permit through the County system.


The Zoning Department for New Hanover County is located at 230 Government Center Drive #110 Wilmington, NC 28403. The offices are currently being moved to the new building the county has erected, but it is basically in the same location.


The Zoning Department for the City of Wilmington is located at 102 North 3rd Street Wilmington, NC 28402.


Here are some basic guidelines for permits that are required through zoning in New Hanover County. Any accessory structure larger than 12 feet in any direction generally calls for a building permit. Other detached structures requiring a permit in New Hanover County include:

  • decks of all sizes

  • gazebos

  • retaining walls that support more than 4 ft. of unrestrained fill, cross a lot line, or support a structure

  • detached masonry chimneys within 10 feet of other buildings or lot lines

  • swimming pools and spas

  • detached carports (“light gauge metal carports under 400 square feet are exempt”)

  • docks, piers and bulkheads.

There are different Zoning requirements for each area of the county. These are some basic examples of homeowner zoning.


R-15 zoning in New Hanover County NC


The R-15 Residential District is established for moderately low residential uses with some limited public, semi-public, and passive recreational uses permitted when they are compatible with moderately low density residential developments.


What is R-20 zoning in North Carolina?


District Purpose

The purpose of this district is to accommodate low density single-family residential development in suburban areas of the county that have access to utility and transportation infrastructure necessary to support development at a suburban scale and intensity.


When you get to the zoning department, you will need your address, and the proposed changes you plan to accomplish and the uses for those changes, who provides water and sewer and where those are located and know your property lines. You may not get an answer immediately. The official zoning ordinance document is 262 pages long, so it may take some time to determine the correct answer. We are happy to help assist you here at Avocet Design Build, this is where an experienced General Contractor who is used to dealing with the intricacies of designing and building projects comes into play.


Feel free to reach out about your specific project!


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