County Building

By: News Release
Mar 3rd, 2018



The temperatures are warming up and the ground is starting to thaw. Contractors and homeowners are getting the itch to start their construction projects. Clayton County has zoning regulations regarding structures being built in the rural areas. Here is the 411 on what you need to know when building in our county.

In Clayton County, we require a building permit for any building being constructed whether it be a house, addition, garage, shed, etc. The only exemptions are if you are working farm of 40 acres or more, or if you are remodeling an existing structure. For instance, installing new windows, putting on a new roof, or installing a sliding door.

The cost of a building permit for a house or cabin, any living residence, is $150. The cost of a permit for other structures like a garage or shed will be $50. If you are building in a new area, a septic permit and well permit may be needed as well.

Before you start building, make sure you are not in the flood plain. If you are in the flood plain, your first step will be to contact the Iowa DNR at 1-800-849-0321 to determine if a state flood plain permit is necessary. If you are building on Esmann or Abel Island, you will also need a Corp of Engineers permit. Even if a DNR permit is not needed, you may still need a county flood plain permit.

Are you building on a new parcel of land? Do you have a 911 address where you are building? If not contact the Health & Zoning Office or Chad Werger at the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office at 563-245-2422. It is best to ask for your 911 address once your driveway is established.

Clayton County has setback regulations from the property lines for all structures being built, even if they do not require a building permit. Property lines start from the RIGHT OF WAY line not the edge of the road. Again, it is to your advantage to know where your property lines are before starting construction.

Land that is zoned Ag structures must be built 40 ft. from the front property line; 25 ft. from the side property lines; 35 from the rear property line. Size must be 1 acre are more to build on with minimum width of 125 ft.

Land zoned Riverside Recreational (Abel & Esmann Islands) structures must be built 15ft. from the front property line; 5 ft. from the sides and rear property lines. Size of lot must be at least 5625 ft. with minimum width of 60 ft. When building on the Islands, approval from the Association is needed first before a building permit can be obtained.

Permits can be found in the Health & Zoning Office at 600 Gunder Rd. Suite 12, Elkader, or at under County Services/Health & Zoning Permits.

If you have any questions, please call Health & Zoning at 563-245-2451 or email for more information.