Are house numbers required by law on the front of a house?

Friday, September 21, 2018

The requirement to have house address numbers is almost universally required by municipal ordinances. Each city or county has a slightly different standard, but their intentions are the same: that your house numbers be clearly visible from the street so that the police, paramedics or a fire engine responding to your 911 emergency call can locate the right house.

    The numbers do not have to be on the house itself. They can be on a mailbox, fence, or post in front of the home. The minimum height of the numbers in City of Gainesville is three inches, and in Alachua County it’s four inches. There are also typically specifications on the minimum width of the stroke of each number and that there be sufficient contrast between the numbers and the background for them to be easily readable.

   All of this may seem like another example of government’s intrusion on the right of a private citizen to use their own property without interference...until your spouse has a heart attack in the middle of the night and an emergency paramedic van goes screaming by the house, then has to turn around and double back, using a searchlight to try to find your house number.

   Also, a common problem that emergency responders have in locating a house is that the numbers are there but have been obscured by foliage growth over time, like in the photo at the top of the page.

   Here’s an excerpt from the City of Gainesville’s ordinance:

Sec. 23-30. Posting of numbers.

New and existing buildings shall have approved address numbers placed in a position to be plainly legible and visible from the street or road fronting the property, whether or not mail is delivered to such building or property. These numbers shall contrast with their background. Address numbers shall be Arabic numerals or alphabet letters. It shall be the duty of the owners of each building in the incorporated area to post the assigned building number on the property in the following manner:

(1) The building (address) number shall be affixed to the front of the building, or to a separate structure in front of the building (such as mailbox, post, wall, fence, etc.), in such a manner so as to be clearly visible and legible from the public or private way on which the building fronts.

(2) Numerals shall be Arabic and shall not be less than three inches in height and one-half inch in stroke width for residential buildings, structures, or portions thereof, and at least six inches in height for all other buildings, structures, or portions thereof. Where address identification is required by the fire official on other elevations of buildings, structures, or portions thereof, such numerals shall be not less than three inches in height for residential and at least six inches in height for all other buildings, structures, or portions thereof. Existing numbers may be exempt if approved by the city fire inspector.

The numerals shall be of a contrasting color with the immediate background of the building or structure on which such numerals are affixed.

   The Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC) have also been requiring house numbers at new homes for a while now. It was fairly simple in the 2006 edition of the IRC: “Premises identification. Approved numbers or addresses shall be provided in such position as to be plainly visible and legible from the street or road fronting the property.” But the 2017 editions of the codes are now more specific:

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about a home’s SITE:

Why do so many more sinkholes open up after a hurricane?

Should I seal the pavers at my patio and driveway or not? 

What is a flag lot?

How much is the ground required to slope away from a house? 

• What is a chimney sinkhole? How do I recognize structural problems in a retaining wall?  

What are the warning signs of a sinkhole? 

What causes sinkholes? How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole?  

What should I do about a tree with roots running under my house?

Will the electric company trim branches rubbing against the overhead service lines to my house?

How can trees damage a house? 

•  What causes cracks in a driveway?

• What is my chance of buying a Florida home over a sinkhole? 

Which trees are most likely to fall over on your house in a hurricane? 
    Visit our SITE and HOME INSPECTION pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

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