Storage sheds are a popular addition to any backyard and for good reason. They allow you to reduce clutter in your home, store outdoor tools and equipment or serve as your own workshop for your favorite hobby. The ideas are unlimited and no doubt you’ve already started daydreaming about how you will use your new structure. After you choose the perfect design, all that’s left is to build it.
One question remains. Do you need a shed permit before you get started?
Regulations Vary Depending on Location
The short answer is it depends on your local and state regulations when it comes to installing new structures on your property. Each municipality is allowed to set its own rules and regulations regarding stipulations for constructing an outdoor shed. Planning and Zoning is the department responsible for reviewing building plans and determining whether permits are required. Before you begin building you should contact your city’s Planning and Zoning to learn what the regulations are for adding a storage building to your backyard. There are several factors that you should consider.
1. Size of the Shed
Typically, you do not need a permit for small buildings such as a 6X8. However, larger buildings may require a permit. You will need to check your county’s zoning laws. In addition to checking on permit requirements, some locations place stipulations on the maximum size storage building you’re allowed to have. There may also be regulations in place stating that you cannot have a building that is more than a certain percentage of the size of the lot.
2. Height of the Structure
In many areas, it is not just the square footage of an outdoor structure that determines if you need a permit, but also the height and number of levels your shed will consist of. Structures above a certain height threshold require a permit prior to the beginning of construction.
3. Structure Placement
Many municipalities have regulations in place about how close storage structures can be to homes, fences, trees, etc. This may affect where you are able to install your shed on your property. Many areas do not allow storage buildings to be attached to homes or garages for safety reasons. It is typically required that your outdoor building is a standalone structure.
4. Foundation Regulations
The type of foundation you intend on using may dictate whether you need a permit. Some counties have stipulations on the types of foundations you are allowed to use for your outdoor shed. The type of foundation required may also be based on how you intend on using the building.
5. How Do You Intend to Use Your Backyard Building?
The intended use will play a large role in whether you must get a permit and make sure it is properly inspected. If you intend on using it solely for personal reasons such as a place to store items or as a workspace, you probably will not need a permit. However, if you intend on using it as an additional living space or a home office that you will conduct business out of, chances are high that you need a permit and will need to make sure it passes inspection.
6. Do You Plan on Installing Electricity?
Improper installation of electricity to any structure can not only be dangerous to occupants but a fire hazard. If you intend on wiring your storage shed with electricity, you will need a permit. A certified electrician will need to inspect the structure all wiring is installed correctly.
7. Will You Run Water to Your Structure?
The answer is most definitely yes. You will need a permit if you intend on running water to your outside storage building. An inspection must be conducted after plumbing is completed to make sure it comes up to code.
8. Located in an Area Susceptible to Harsh Weather Conditions
If you live in an area that experiences harsh weather conditions on a regular basis, such as hurricanes or tornadoes, your county or city’s Planning and Zoning may require a permit. The reason is that there might be stipulations on how you can build your outdoor structure and a permit will be required to ensure it meets code and can withstand the harsh environmental elements.
9. Do You Need to Take Your Homeowner’s Association into Consideration?
Absolutely. Before you even check with planning and zoning concerning state and local regulations, you should check with your homeowner’s association to find out if outdoor storage buildings are permitted and if so, what are the stipulations. There may be regulations on size, type of material, foundation, location, and even color.
Things to Do Before Visiting Your City or County’s Planning and Zoning
The last thing you want to do is build your garden storage shed only to find out afterward that it doesn’t meet building codes. There can be serious consequences for building a garden shed without getting the proper permits. The city can fine you, make you move your shed, or even take it down. However, it will be a waste of time to go to your planning and zoning office to get your building approved if you do not have an actual plan. Here is the information you need to have prepared beforehand to take with you.
- Free shed building plans, including the dimensions
- The location on your property you want to place your shed
- The type of foundation you intend to use
- The proximity of the proposed shed to other structures, fences, trees, etc.
- How you intend to use the storage building
- Whether you intend on running water or electricity to the shed
Having all this information in-hand will ensure that you do not make a wasted trip and are able to get an accurate answer as to whether your shed is approved and if you need a permit.
Ready to Get Started?
Now that you understand the factors that affect whether you need a permit, it’s time to get started on your outdoor storage building. The first step is picking out a design.