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Homesite Preparation

Building permit
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  • Planning & Zoning
  • Road Access & Maintenance
  • Soils & Soils Testing
  • Water Disposal / Septic Systems
  • Radon Gas
  • Drinking Water Quality Testing

Planning, Zoning, Building, and Permitting

Grand and Summit County Community Development Departments regulate physical, economic, and social development in each county. Responsibilities include: maintaining and updating each county’s Master Plan; administering each county’s subdivision, land use, and development codes; and assessing and inspecting building, electrical, and mechanical permits required for new construction, remodels, and repair projects. Contact info in "Who You Gonna Call" on the right.

Lands in Middle Park are zoned for specific uses. This helps to preserve each county’s natural and cultural assets by guiding their physical growth in a manner that promotes the public interest. Your property may be designated under one of the following zoning classifications: agriculture, rural community, rural residential, single-family residential, planned unit development, natural resources, mining, industrial, or commercial. It is important for you to know your zoning classification so you understand what you are and are not permitted to do on your property.

Building codes are meant to safeguard public health, safety, and welfare related to the occupancy and use of buildings and structures. These objectives are met by regulating and controlling the design, materials, construction, fire and safety, occupancy, and other construction criteria for all buildings. Permits are required for all construction, installation, alteration, repair, and demolition of any building in Grand or Summit Counties. Contact your county’s Building Department for more information on required permits.

BEFORE DIGGING, don’t forget to call “811” or visit to get a UTILITY LINE LOCATE!!! 
You may also need to call a private utility locator if private utility lines exist on your property.


Did you know? If you plan to demolish a structure, you may be subject to State and Federal regulations regarding asbestos. An inspection and demo permit may be REQUIRED. Contact the Building Department for more info.


Road Access and Maintenance

In addition to state-maintained highways and city/county-maintained roads, there are also private roads that serve rural properties throughout Middle Park. These roads are maintained by private citizens and/or homeowner associations. When buying a property, make sure you know which type of road you have: private or privately-maintained, city/county-maintained, or state highway.

It is important for property owners to realize that the county does not assume responsibility for the construction or maintenance of private driveways. Additionally, work or improvements on a county road right-of-way may require a Right-of-Way Improvement Permit. The expense of construction, culverts, gravel, labor, and maintenance of said driveway is the complete responsibility of the property owner. Private driveways adjoining a county road may need to be approved by the County’s Road and Bridge Department; thus, landowners should visit with department staff when considering driveway options.

Long, narrow, steep driveways pose issues for snowplowing and access for emergency vehicles. Ensure sufficient clearance on either side of the driveway for storage of snow and reduce risk of a flames closing access to the road during a wildfire. Especially if a second-homeowner, you should also consider getting a Knox Rapid Access System/Padlock for faster access to your driveway / home by first responders during emergencies and alarm calls.

During extreme weather, city, county, and state-maintained roads may become impassable. You may need a four-wheel drive vehicle (with chains) to travel during these times. If plowing your own private driveway, your snow must stay on your side of the road. IT IS UNSAFE (AND POSSIBLY ILLEGAL) TO PLOW SNOW ACROSS THE ROAD.

Unpaved roads are NOT always smooth and are often slippery when wet. You will experience increased vehicle maintenance costs when regularly traveling on rural county roads. Dust, washboarding, rough roads, and broken windshields are part of gravel road living.

School buses only travel roads that have been designated as School Bus Routes by the local school district. You may need to drive your children to the nearest designated school bus stop for them to get to school. Check with your local school district for bus routes.

Soil Testing

When you think of soil, the first word that probably comes to mind is “dirt.” It is the stuff that gets on your clothes and shoes when you play outside and is also the medium in which plants grow. Nevertheless, soil is so much more than just dirt. Soil is composed of the mineral content (dirt), air, water, and organic matter. It is also home to plants, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, worms, and other animals. It can take more than a thousand years to form one inch of topsoil, and there are more than 70,000 types of soils in the US. Because there are so many types of soils, it is essential to know which type you have on your land. Each soil has a unique chemical and physical composition that impacts its ability to withstand the weight of your home and the ability to grow produce in your garden.

Soils Testing for Construction

If you have not built your home yet, you should hire a Soil Engineering Firm to perform a Geotechnical Study to determine your soil’s properties. Online platforms, like the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Web Soil Survey, can provide general and preliminary soil information to anyone and everyone, BUT site-specific data is crucial before building. Site-specific data will inform you of your soil’s strength, density, compaction, shrink and swell tendencies, and corrosive properties.

Soils Testing for Vegetative Growth

Once your house is built, you may want to establish outdoor landscaping, gardens, pastures, and/or hay fields. As no soil is alike, the soil on your property may be more or less suitable for vegetative growth. As such, you should consider doing a different type of soil test to determine your soil’s nutrient composition. It could be stellar topsoil with lots of organic matter, or it could be nearly devoid of all essential nutrients needed to grow award-winning vegetables. The results of a soil test can suggest soil amendments for proper nutrient management. Colorado State University’s  “Soil, Water, and Plant Testing Lab” performs soil nutrient testing for reasonable prices. Check them out at or call  970-491-5061. The NRCS office in Kremmling has a soil corer you may borrow for taking your soil samples.  Contact info in "Who You Gonna Call" on the right.

For instructions on how to collect soil samples or soil testing bags, contact Grand County Extension  |  970-724-3436  


Water Disposal Systems

On-Site Sewage Disposal (Septic) Systems

Managing your septic system is a very important aspect of living “in the country.” A septic system is an individual wastewater treatment system that uses soil to treat small wastewater flows from a residence. A conventional septic system consists of a septic tank and a drain or “leach” field. This is a simple system, but it must be adequately maintained. Neglecting a septic tank is the most common cause of damage to a leach field. Ensuring the system is cared for and properly maintained is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. The best way to prevent septic failure is to observe a routine pumping schedule. Contact your local septic tank cleaning company for more information on pumping recommendations.

Septic Dos:Septic Don’ts:
Keep a diagram showing the location of your systemPark, drive vehicles over, or allow large animals on any part of your septic system
Inspect your system every yearPlace sprinkler systems close to the leach field
Pump your tank regularlyDig or build on top of your septic system
Keep records of pumping, inspection, and maintenancePlant deep-rooted plants over the drain field
Repair leaking faucets and toiletsDispose of sanitary napkins, diapers, cooking oil, solvents, paint, coffee grounds, fats, or meats into a septic system
Install washing machine lint and effluent filtersBreathe emitted tank gases – these are toxic
Conserve water to reduce wastewaterIgnore odors, wet or sunken spots, or lush growth above the drain field
Divert roof drains and surface water away from drain field
Limit the use of drain solvents, household chemicals, strong disinfectants, and chlorine
Call a professional when you have questions

Radon Gas

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that comes from the natural, radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rocks, and water. Surveys conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment indicate that 4 out of 10 Colorado homes have a potential for radon concentrations in excess of the EPA recommended guideline of 4 pCi/L. It is possible for one home in a neighborhood to have low radon levels while the neighboring home has extremely high levels. Accordingly, all homes in Colorado should be tested for radon. The risk of radon in a home can be influenced by several factors: soil type, “tightness” of the home, air pressure, type of heating and ventilation systems, and the lifestyle of the occupant. Radon testing is the only way to know if you are at risk of radon gas exposure. Radon is an invisible killer, and according to the Surgeon General, it is the second leading cause of lung cancer (following smoking).

The easiest way to test for radon is with an EPA-approved short-term test kit. This small detector can be placed in the lowest livable space in your home for two to seven days. Test kits include instructions and return postage for mailing the kit to the analysis lab.

There are a variety of methods to lower radon levels in your home, including venting crawlspaces, sealing cracks and openings in the foundation, and covering sump pump holes.

Radon-resistant construction techniques can also be effective in preventing radon entry. When installed properly, these simple and inexpensive techniques can help reduce indoor radon levels in homes. Installing them at the time of construction makes it easier and less expensive than doing it post-construction.

Contact the Grand County CSU Extension Office or Summit County Environmental Health Department to get a radon testing kit. Contact info in "Who You Gonna Call" on the right.

Drinking Water Quality

If your water comes from a well, it is important to get its quality checked. While the appearance, taste, or odor of water offers some clues about contamination, a more thorough analysis is needed to detect the less obvious water contaminants. Obvious contaminants include the water’s turbidity (murkiness) and the presence of hydrogen sulfide (a pungent smell). However, your senses will NOT detect impurities that cause hard water, corroded pipes, and stained sinks. There are two types of tests that assess water quality: bacteriological and chemical.

Bacteriological tests are used to determine if water is bacteriologically safe for human consumption. The tests are based on detection of a group of microorganisms (bacteria) that serve as indicators of pollution from human and animal wastes.  For bacteriological testing in Grand County, contact Three Lakes Water & Sanitation at 970-627-3544 or

Chemical tests are used to identify impurities and dissolved substances that affect water. Depending on the nature of the minerals, water begins to decrease in palatability when the concentration of minerals (dissolved salts) exceeds 500-1000 parts per million (ppm). Chemical test results will likely show data for pH, Calcium and Magnesium (a measure of water hardness), Sodium, Potassium, Carbonates and Bicarbonates, Chloride, Sulfate, Nitrate, Fluoride, Iron, Manganese, Total Dissolved Solids, and other minor elements (like Lead, Arsenic, and Molybdenum).

Contact the Grand County CSU Extension Office or Summit County Environmental Health Department to get a water testing kit. Contact info in "Who You Gonna Call" on the right.  The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment also offers several test packages for private wells that can be accessed through Recommended test packages include the “General Colorado Package” or the “Deluxe Package.”


References: 1, 2, 8, 16, 17, 18, 19


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