Can You Build a Billboard On Your Own Property?

Billboards are a cornerstone of advertising, and it is with good reason. These eye-catching boards announce a products name widely and can be used strategically to be very creative and effective. If you have your own property, you may be wondering if you can install a billboard there.

You can build a billboard on your own property; however, there are often extensive laws and you may even have to request a permit. Additionally, if it is a residential property you might be subject to Homeowners’ Association rules that could prevent you from building a billboard.

If you are determined to build a billboard on your property, there are some ways you can investigate to do so. Keep reading to learn more about the process of building a billboard on your property and some alternatives if you cannot accomplish this legally.

Is it Allowed to Build a Billboard on Your Property?

Billboards are some of the most famous forms of marketing out there, and they have been around for decades. People most commonly see them on the interstate or highway, but as an advertiser you might be wondering if you can use your property to put up your own billboard.

This is a possibility, but it can be difficult. The following sections will discuss some of the things you might encounter when trying to put up a billboard.

Difficulties in Building Your Own Billboard

The advantages of building a billboard are numerous. People notice them and often remember them as they drive by every day. However, owning a property does not necessarily mean you can build a billboard.

The following things could impact why you cannot build a billboard:

  • Zoning laws: Zoning laws are incredibly complicated, and dictate what you can and cannot do with your space. Even if you own a commercial property, this does not guarantee that it is a designated area where you can build a billboard.
  • Permit requirements: Some states will require that you have a permit before you can begin building a billboard. Getting a permit will require an application process where the state will have to decide if your property is suitable for advertising.
  • Homeowners’ Associations: If you are thinking of building a billboard in a residential area, think again. Not only is it probably illegal based on zoning laws, but you will run into issues if you belong to a Homeowners’ Association. These groups often outright ban the construction of advertising materials in a given neighborhood or area.
  • Distance laws: Many states and areas will also have complex requirements for how far away billboards must be both from other billboards and also from freeway exits and other important parts of the road. To get a permit, you may need to prove that you are in accordance with these distance laws.

If you are wondering why these difficult laws exist, it ultimately comes back to the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 which took measures to make land near major roads more attractive and reduce the amount of advertising that can legally take place.

While there are a lot of reasons why people may want to have a billboard, it ultimately comes down to what you can legally do with the space you have.

How You Can Build a Billboard on Your Property

If you have your heart set on building a billboard, there are some avenues you can pursue to see if it is possible.

  • Contact your local authorities: Zoning laws are typically controlled by local governments, so if you want to get started on deciphering your zoning laws, this should be the natural first step. They can tell you if it will be possible given the property you have.
  • Read the fine print: Look closely at the information in your land contract or in the local zoning laws. You want to avoid doing anything that would cause you to be fined. However, you may also discover a loophole.
  • Apply for a permit: If you believe you have a space that is compliant with local laws and regulations, you can then go through the permit process. This could involve some money in the form of an application fee, so you will want to be sure you can do it before you pay.
  • Talk to a legal representative: An attorney experienced in zoning laws could help you justify your space or petition to change existing laws.
  • Exercise free speech: This does not always work, but a last resort could involve invoking free speech laws. Many people justify political or religious billboards by claiming this; however, if you are advertising for a secular and apolitical company, this could be very difficult to argue.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and this saying is true for billboards too. However, the amount of time and money it may take to make it happen could outweigh the profits you will make from advertising.

Alternatives to Building a Billboard

If you decide that billboard building is too much of a hassle, you may choose instead to rent a billboard space. This is by far the most common option, as the companies that own billboard space have done so legally and they can then rent it out to you.

This may cost money, but it will be far less than the expenses you may run into in building your own billboard. You will also avoid any costs associated with installing the billboard and also the materials required to make the sign.

You may also choose to build your own billboard and have it installed on a property approved for billboard displays.


Billboards seem to be everywhere on the roads and in cities, but building one is not as simple as you think, even if you have your own property. These advertising rules are highly regulated by state laws and zoning regulations.

If you do want to build your own billboard, be prepared to do some research. It could be possible, but the process of accomplishing this will most likely be long and complicated.