Houston Heights West, East and South


The setting of a house – how it is located on and sized to fit a lot – should also be compatible with the historic district. Setbacks define a rhythm of buildings and open space on a street which is an important characteristic of neighborhood.  Setbacks vary across the neighborhood, typical setbacks range between 15 to 25 feet from the front property line. Garages or carports are detached, located behind the house at the rear half of the lot. Historically, vehicular access was from the street and not the alley.  This resulted in houses having at least one side setback of 10-12 feet.  Larger houses were historically located on larger lots. Having a 3’ setback on each side of a house is not typical of Houston Heights.

Blockface Setbacks

Deed restrictions in the Heights vary lot by lot. Property owners may learn more about possible deed restrictions by reviewing their property records or contacting the Houston Heights Association. In addition, certain blocks within Houston Heights are subject to a Minimum Building Line (MBL) and/or Minimum Lot Size (MLS) ordinance, which establish minimum front setback lines and/or subdivided lot size. Owners may look up MLS and MBL ordinances on the Planning and Development Departments MLS/MBL website. Applicants for Certificates of Appropriateness for work in any district should check with the City Planning and Development Department and building code enforcement officials during the planning stage of their projects.

When considering a building project within the Houston Heights Historic Districts, please refer to this chart. It shows which setting-related elements are compatible and which are not. Definitions of common terms can be found in the glossary.

Compatible Incompatible
  • Located to the side of the house on interior lots
  • Connected to the side street on corner lots
  • Parking pads in front of the building
Garages and Carports
  • Located in rear half of the lot; often fully or partially obscured visually by house in front
  • Second-story garage apartment
  • Attached to the building
  • In front of the house
  • One or two stories
  • Finished attic space with dormers
  • Three or more stories
Front setback
  • Match prevailing setback of contributing historic structures on the containing blockface (best practice)
  • 15’-25’ from the front property line is the typical range (east/west numbered streets may have a smaller front setback)
  • 20’ or greater side setbacks on large corner lots
  • Setback inconsistent with the typical front setback of contributing structures.