New Homeowner’s Guide


Congratulations and welcome to Duck! We are excited to have you as a new member in our community and hope that you will embrace the pride and ownership felt by all who live, work, and visit here.

The Town of Duck maintains a responsive and responsible government. Council, staff, and the community work together to offer high quality services intended to add value to the entire town. We have an educated, experienced, and motivated staff empowered to execute the town’s objectives. Continuity of leadership preserves our established values and visions.

In order to assist you as a new homeowner, we have detailed some helpful information about the Community Development Department, permitting, and services information. If there is information that you need that is not found here, we encourage you to call the town office at 252.255.1234, or email and your inquiry will be routed to the appropriate department. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Connect with Us:

Subscribe to our email newsletter for updates regarding town meetings, events, and other important news, and the YouTube channel DuckPR. To stay up to date with the latest happenings in Duck, follow Town of Duck on Facebook and Instagram, and @DuckOBX on Twitter.

In 2027, the Town of Duck, North Carolina, is a thriving coastal community. We respect and value our delicate, yet dynamic barrier island environment — clean waters and beaches, maritime forests, wetlands, and dunescapes. Residents and visitors alike are drawn to neighborhoods that reflect our small town atmosphere.  Our village is a source of pride, offering diverse experiences by way of a cohesive and eclectic mix of independent businesses, shops, and restaurants.  At the hub of our community is the Town Hall and Park, where we interact, share ideas, and build connections. Duck’s vitality, founded on grassroots engagement, encourages meaningful participation from all of its stakeholders. Long-term financial stability, sustainable services, measured growth and a focus on quality of life distinguish Duck as a preeminent destination for everyone.
The Town of Duck Department of Community Development is responsible for municipal planning activities as well as administration of land use and building regulations. Permits are issued by town staff for the following activities:
  • Residential and commercial building construction, renovation, and repair projects.
  • Work performed by licensed trade professionals (mechanical, electrical, plumbing and gas).
  • Land disturbing activities including clearing of trees and vegetation, grading, and installation of septic systems, driveways and parking areas, and intensive landscaping projects.
  • Projects located in Special Flood Hazard Areas as defined by the National Flood Insurance Program.
href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Minor Projects located in Areas of Environmental Concern as defined by the North Carolina Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA). Joe Heard Director of Community Development For planning/zoning information or commercial development information. Sandy Cross Senior Planner/CAMA LPO For general permitting questions or for information regarding CAMA Minor permits. Road and trash complaints and/or concerns may also be directed to Sandy. Steve McMurray Building Inspector For questions pertaining to the North Carolina State Building Code or the Town’s Floodplain Management Program.
We have developed a list of commonly asked questions that may be of some assistance to you as a new homeowner in Duck as you complete your purchasing process and get settled in. If you have a specific questions not answered below, please e-mail us at and reference “Community Development” in the subject or contact one of the staff members listed on this page at 252.255.1234 and they will be glad to assist you.
  1. What kind of activities require a building permit? Most construction activities, including the installation/construction of accessory structures, swimming pools, hot tubs and HVAC units (new or replacement) require a building or individual trade permit from the Town of Duck. Additional triggers that would necessitate a building permit include any projects that are structural in nature, involve window replacement, or where the cost of the project exceeds $15,000.00.
  2. What do I need to submit with my building permit application? Depending on the extent of the project, you may need a survey showing your plan of development and all existing improvements on the property, a $5,000.00 surety bond, a workers’ compensation affidavit, a copy of your contractors license, Dare County Health Department approval (on both your survey and building plans) and a CAMA permit, if applicable,
  3. What is Duck’s lot coverage limit for residential properties? The Town generally limits lot coverage to 30%; however some smaller lots recorded prior to 11/20/1975 allow for greater lot coverage while some subdivisions limit lot coverage to less than 30%. It is always good practice to check with Town staff to confirm lot coverage for any particular property.
  4. What are Duck’s zoning requirements other than parking and lot coverage? The Town’s zoning regulations govern building use, height, size, proximity to property lines (including proximity and activity on the oceanfront), fill and grading, and vegetation and tree removal.
  5. How do I know how many parking spaces I need when building a new home or remodeling/adding to an existing home? The parking standard for the Town of Duck is the based upon the County Environmental Health Department approved occupancy divided by 2; so if you have a 5 bedroom house that sleeps 12, based upon your approved septic capacity, then you would need 6 parking spaces. These parking spaces need to measure 9×18 and you may stack outside a required 12′ wide drive aisle. All required parking spaces outside of the drive aisle and aside from under the house, shall be graded and improved with loose stone surface (gravel), porous pavers, or other similar semi-permeable materials. Loose stone surface shall be bordered in a manner which retains the stone in the parking area.
  6. Do I need a permit to build a residential detached garage or storage building? If any dimension of the structure is over 12 feet, you will need a building permit. If no dimensions are over 12 feet, you will not need a building permit, however you will need a Land Disturbance permit to assure compliance with setbacks and lot coverage.
  7. Do fences require a permit in Duck? Fences may require a permit depending on their location and purpose. It's best to contact the office to discuss whether a permit is necessary.
  8. Do I need a permit to renovate an existing structure? You will need a building permit if the project cost exceeds $15,000.00, involves any window replacement or if any of the work being performed is structural in nature. Other trade permits for electrical, plumbing or mechanical work may be required as well.
  9. What happens if I start work on a project without obtaining the necessary or required permits? A Stop Work Order may be issued. You will be required to obtain a permit and your fees will be doubled.
  10. What kind of activities require a Land Disturbance permit? A Land Disturbance permit is typically required for new driveway installation or conversion of a driveway from gravel to concrete or vice versa; new or replacement septic systems; placement of pre-built storage sheds; playhouses or underground propane tanks on the property; landscaping projects that involve machine grading or filling of the property; any projects that add fill dirt, gravel or concrete areas; patios; walkways; ground-level decks and similar site features that cover or disturb the land.
  11. What is the difference between zoning and covenants? Zoning rules are enforced by the Town while covenants are enforced by individual property owner associations. Permittees should always research both and abide by the strictest set of standards.

CAMA Related Questions

The shorelines within the Town of Duck, adjacent to both the ocean and sound, fall under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA). CAMA was enacted to protect the resources of the coast as well as human lives and property. CAMA regulations require permits for certain “development” activities located within what CAMA refers to as the Area of Environmental Concern (AEC). This is the area within 75 feet of the normal water line of the Currituck Sound and the area along the oceanfront directly adjacent to the frontal and primary dune system which is subject to greater risk of flooding and coastal erosion. Through a cooperative agreement, the Town administers CAMA minor permits on behalf of the State of North Carolina for certain types of projects. To determine if you need CAMA permit, you will need to know if your project falls within an AEC and also if the project meets the state’s definition of “development”.

Your project is likely in an AEC if it is:
  • on or adjacent to a marsh or wetland;
  • within 75 feet of the normal water line along the estuarine (Currituck Sound) shoreline;
  • within the VE flood zone as determined by the most recent Flood Insurance Rate Map for the property;
  • on an oceanfront lot or located between the street and the ocean beach.
CAMA defines development as: “any activity in a duly designated area of environmental concern…involving, requiring or consisting of the construction or enlargement of a structure; excavation; dredging; filling; dumping; removal of clay, silt, sand, gravel or minerals; bulkheading; driving of pilings; clearing or alteration of land as an adjunct of construction; alteration or removal of sand dunes; alteration of the shore, bank or bottom of the Atlantic Ocean or any sound, bay, river, creek, stream, lake or canal” {NCGS 113A-103(5)(a)}. If you are unsure whether your project is considered development, it is always good practice to check with the Town CAMA LPO Sandy Cross at 252-255-1234 or There are some projects that may be exempt from permitting under CAMA but these projects should also be discussed with the Town CAMA LPO.

Town Services

The Town contracts out this services, and it is provided by Waste Management, Inc. Solid Waste should be put in existing BLACK AND BROWN waste containers. Collection days are as follows:
  • Through April 30th, 2021; Mondays; once per week
  • May 1st through September 30th; twice per week as follows:
Yellow Residential Trash Route: North of the Army Corps Pier Tuesday & Friday, May 1 – September 30; Tuesdays, October 1 – April 30 Recycling: Every Monday, May 1 – October 31; first & third Mondays November 1 – April 30 Blue Residential Trash Route: South of the Army Corps Pier Monday & Thursday, May 1 – September 30; Mondays, October 1 – April 30 Recycling: Every Monday, May 1 – October 31; first & third Mondays November 1 to April 30 Holiday schedule pickups will be posted on the town website as they become available. Additional details regarding roll-back requirements, and new waste container procedures may be found on the town website here. Bulk waste information may be found here. Curbside waste containers (96-gallon, approved containers) are purchased directly from Waste Management by the property owner. To purchase a new container, call 855.964.2845. The container sales account number for Duck residents is 425-26029. Waste Management provides delivery of the containers to the property location but requires a 5-day notice. The cost per container is $90.00 which is billed directly to the property owner. The Town of Duck will not request, purchase, or stock waste containers for solid waste residential pickup.
The Town contracts out this service, and it is provided by Tidewater Fibre Corporation utilizing leased BLUE containers. Collection days are as follows:
  • Every Monday from May 1st through October 31st
  • 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from November 1st through April 30th
NOTE: The schedule does NOT change when scheduled collections occur on public holidays. The collection schedule is maintained 364 days per year, except for December 25th, and/or unless the Town is informed otherwise. Additional pickups may be scheduled around the holidays and will be posted on the Town website. If your recycling container was not picked up on your regular collection day, you should contact the Town Office immediately at 252.255.1234. Reports of missed collections must be received the same service day by 10:00 a.m. or service may not be available until the next scheduled recycling pick-up. To request a new or extra recycling container, or to report lost or damaged cans you should contact the Town Office at 252.255.1234 or by e-mail at
The Town of Duck has container stickers available at the Town Office, at no cost, which detail scheduled pick up dates along with acceptable disposal items and the do’s and don’ts to ensure proper collection. With renters coming and going on a weekly basis, these stickers help to make sure trash is collected so you don’t have to. The Town also provides a refrigerator template that details these services, along with important beach rules and contact information for Public Safety, Police, Fire and Surf Rescue. This is something you want to make sure you have in your home.
The Town of Duck schedules two bulk waste collections each year — one in the spring and one in the fall. Collections are made by Waste Management. Collections are typically scheduled on the Fridays after the Easter and Columbus Day holidays. Bulk waste can include all large items such as televisions, mattresses, and yard/vegetative debris. Yard and vegetative debris must be bagged or tied in bundles of four foot lengths or less with each bundle weighing no more than 50 pounds; otherwise, it will not be picked up. Bulk Waste drop off permits may be issued to residents and property owners from the town to dispose of bulk waste at the Kitty Hawk/Dare County Recycling Center. Permits may be obtained at the Duck Town Hall. There is no charge. Acceptable items for both the collection and drop off permit may be found here.

Environmental Health Septic Systems

The Town of Duck and most of the developed Outer Banks utilizes on-site wastewater septic systems for sewage disposal. Questions related to installation and repair of these systems, should be directed to the Dare County Health Department at 252.475.5080.

Most building permits will need to be reviewed by the Dare County Health Department prior to submission to the Town. Septic repair, relocation and upgrade permit from the County would also necessitate a Land Disturbance permit from the Town.

Dare County Health Department:

Tree and Vegetation Preservation and Planting

The Town recognizes the aesthetic, environmental, ecological and economic benefits to our coastal community that native and well-adapted vegetation provides and to that end, regulations regarding the preservation and planting of vegetation have been adopted. A summary of the ordinance for preservation and planting of vegetation can be found here.

Town of Duck Events

Throughout the year, the Town sponsors a number of family oriented events at the Duck Town Park. This free programming includes yoga and dynamic flow classes, evening concerts, comedy variety shows, interactive family-oriented theater, children’s story time, family magic shows, movies on the green, as well as three larger annual events: Duck Fourth of July Parade, Duck Jazz Festival, and Duck Yuletide Celebration. In addition, the Town hosts rotating art exhibits in the Duck Town Hall. All events, except for the parade, are held at the Duck Town Park, 1200 Duck Road, and are free and open to the public. Specific details regarding upcoming events may be found on the Town website at