If you’re looking for someone to help you get a permit to construct a pool on your property, or if your company is designing a new skyscraper for a city government, consider hiring a zoning lawyer.
What is a Zoning Lawyer?
Zoning attorneys are sometimes referred to as land use lawyers because they work with property and the way someone uses land.
Zoning lawyers work with both private and public situations. Some lawyers specialize in government contracts for government construction, while others specialize in land use issues for homeowners.
What Does a Zoning Attorney Do?
A zoning lawyer does many things, namely paperwork, research and filing. Zoning attorneys offer legal advice relating to real estate matters. This extends to:
- Zoning ordinances;
- Land use covenants;
- Zoning issues;
- Necessary entitlements;
- Land use approvals;
- Land use regulations;
- Land use issues; and
- Working with local governments.
It can be incredibly challenging to navigate contracts for a local land building project. Zoning laws differ depending on where you are operating and whether the construction is for residential or commercial purposes. That is why hiring a zoning lawyer near you can help you navigate things like permits, applications, zoning ordinances, and the final zoning approval process.
When to Hire a Zoning Lawyer
You can hire a zoning lawyer near you for many reasons. They can assist you with a right of way or easement on your property. Land use lawyers can also review construction plans to ensure they comply with local zoning regulations. In addition, zoning lawyers can ensure safety and compliance for larger government contracts.
Individuals who are looking to purchase a home or better develop a piece of property can benefit from hiring a land use attorney. A land use attorney can help navigate the zoning regulations in a given municipality, procure the proper permits, determine whether a zoning law applies to you or not, and help you overcome restrictions.
Many real estate agencies employ a law firm specifically to handle any land use law issues and work closely with a zoning lawyer. This helps to avoid legal conflicts when selling a home.
Construction companies might also work with a land use law firm to ensure permits are filed on time for all construction sites.
How Do I Choose a Zoning Attorney?
Choosing zoning attorneys near you can take time, but doing the leg work is worth it.
Start with an online search. There are many legal directories online where you can specify the type of lawyer you are looking for and find profiles for different law firms. The information on these sites typically includes the law firms’ payment options, office locations, and office hours. You can also check out attorney profiles, which include their law school education and their training, as well as client recommendations.
If you happen to know someone who has worked with a zoning attorney in the past, don't hesitate to ask them if they would recommend the law firm they chose or if they would recommend someone else.
Finally, if you are buying a house or piece of property, whether as an individual or a business, you might find a law firm already exists on retainer with the real estate agency you are using. This can make it much easier to choose your zoning attorney because a fully qualified and vetted law firm is on hand. That doesn't mean you have to work with them; it just means it's an option. You can always choose your own land use or zoning attorney.
How Much Does a Zoning Lawyer Cost?
The best zoning lawyer near you will vary in cost based on:
- Their location;
- The location of your project;
- What you need to be done; and
- How many members of the law firm are involved in the case.
In California, the typical attorney charges anywhere between $165 per hour and $425 per hour. By comparison, in Alabama, the average attorney charges between $80 per hour and $290 per hour. So, where a law firm is located will heavily influence how much your zoning lawyer will charge.
A lawyer for zoning near you may charge a flat rate or an hourly fee. The flat rate is for specific projects, projects where they can estimate the amount of time and effort required because they have done them many times before. With a flat rate, you know exactly how much you will pay no matter what happens throughout the process.
An hourly fee is more common for zoning lawyers. Zoning projects require a lot of research and document filing, as well as travel to and from local courthouses. Because of this, it can be difficult to estimate ahead of time how much the whole project will cost.
Do Zoning Attorneys Usually Charge for Consultations?
No, zoning lawyers usually do not charge for consultations. The consultation is an opportunity for both parties to determine whether the relationship would be a good fit. Just because you contact an attorney that works as a land use lawyer doesn't mean that they or their law firm are qualified to take on your case. The consultation is a chance for you to verify their qualifications.