Home Construction in Lake Tahoe

Current Building information for land and development in the Tahoe Basin Areas

As you may or may not know there are some regulations regarding building in the Tahoe area that can make it somewhat difficult. Restrictions on new construction and mandated upgrades for existing homes are in place for preserving, protecting and enhancing the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region.

In addition to the normal procedure of going through all of the building department requirements of obtaining permits, etc. to build a home on a vacant lot there is also the Tahoe Regional Planning Association (TRPA) overseeing how large you can build and even if you can build. Permits to build cost a fee of $25-35,000 depending on the size of house (approx. 1500-3000 square feet) and the area. New construction can only begin between May 1 and October 15 due to weather and snow.

The TRPA assigns a score to each parcel of land in the Tahoe basin by the Individual Parcel Evaluation System (IPES). IPES scores for El Dorado County must be higher than 1 and in Placer County 726 in order to begin construction. The owner of a parcel with an IPES score within 10% of the cutoff in California may participate in the IPES Limited Incentive Program.

An example of this would be a parcel with an IPES score of 718 in Placer County that would need 8 points to bring the score to 726. At this time, the maximum number of additional points that can be awarded to a parcel is 72 for Placer County (10% of buildable). IPES points may be purchased at $672 per point up to the cutoff score.

Buildable IPES Scores Per County:

Douglas: 1
Washoe: 1
El Dorado:  1
Placer: 726

Coverage is the allowed amount of ground you can cover with impervious materials (such as; house, driveway, decks, etc.). If the lot has a low amount of coverage, you can purchase additional coverage, up to 20% or a minimum of 1800 square feet, regardless of the lot size up to 1/3 acre, at a cost of $10 a square foot. A typical home will need approximately 1800-2000 square feet of coverage. At this time there is very limited or no additional coverage available for purchase in several areas.

New Conservancy Coverage and other Marketable Rights for 2007

For existing homes & buildings in the Tahoe Basin the regulations required are known as Best Management Practices (BMP’s). BMP’s are defined as “structural and nonstructural practices proven effective in soil erosion control and management of surface runoff in the Lake Tahoe Region.” All property owners in the Lake Tahoe basin need to implement BMPs, whether they own residential or commercial properties. BMPs can be relatively simple to install, such as re-vegetating a bare slope or adding drainage, however, sometimes they are more difficult, such as storm water pre-treatment systems for a large parking area. BMP requirements are site specific and correct installation can be accurately determined with a site evaluation by a professional.

Please find additional sources for information on building in Lake Tahoe below.

TRPA- Tahoe Regional Planning Association
128 Market St., P.O. Box 5310
Stateline, NV 89449-5310
(775) 588-4547

Tahoe Conservancy
2161 Lake Tahoe Blvd. Ste 2
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
(530) 542-5580

Placer Co. Building Dept.-Tahoe
565 West Lake Blvd.
Tahoe City, CA 96145
Phone 530-581-6200
Email: building@placer.ca.gov

El Dorado County
2850 Fair Lane Court
Placerville, CA
Building Department: (530) 621-5315
Planning Department: (530) 621-5355

Nevada County Building Department
Community Development Agency
950 Maidu Ave.
Nevada City, CA 95959
Phone (530) 265-1218
Fax (530) 265-9854