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Interpretation ZA-002: Balconies and GFA


Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Reference: 
ZA-002

The ‘chargeability’ of Gross Floor Area (GFA) regarding exterior and inset balconies, under the Zoning Regulations, is as follows:

The applicable Zoning regulation regarding Gross Floor Area, is set forth in 11 DCMR B-304.8:

GFA shall not include cellars, exterior balconies that do not exceed a projection of six feet (6 ft.) beyond the exterior walls of the building, all projections beyond the lot line that may be allowed by other Municipal codes, vent shafts, and pipe chase shafts above the ground floor, atriums above the ground floor, ramps on the ground floor leading down to areas of parking on a lower level; and in residential zones, the first floor or basement area designed and used for parking or recreation spaces provided that not more than fifty percent (50%) of the perimeter of that space may be comprised of columns, piers, walls, or windows, or similarly enclosed.

As per the highlighted section of the above, exterior balconies that do not exceed a projection of 6 feet beyond the exterior walls of the building do not count in GFA.  

To be classified as an exterior balcony it must have less than three walls around its perimeter.
A balcony with three [or more] walls is considered an inset balcony and will count in GFA regardless of its size, so long as it is covered by a roof. If an exterior projecting balcony extends more than 6 feet and is covered by a roof, then the entire balcony counts in GFA.

Based on these interpretations, the balconies that are included/excluded from GFA are as follows:

  • Exterior balconies which project in public space do not count in GFA
  • Exterior balconies which project no more than 6 feet do not count in GFA
  • Exterior balconies which project more than 6 feet or fully counted in GFA
  • Inset balconies count in GFA for the portions of the balcony that are under roof
  • Inset balconies that are not covered by a roof do not count in GFA