DO YOU NEED A PERMIT TO BUILD A SHED IN YOUR BACKYARD?
Am I Allowed To Build A DIY Shed On My Property?
It depends….on size, intended use, and the area you live in.
You may or may not need a permit to build a shed in your backyard. There are some exceptions.
Legal Disclaimer: Even though we consulted our lawyer for this article, this is not intended as legal advice. Please contact your local building authorities for laws on permits in your area.
Before purchasing plans and materials, it’s important to make sure that you’re allowed to build your shed in the intended location and for the anticipated use. Most areas allow homeowners to construct a small shed on their property, but it’s important to check with your local zoning and building authorities to determine exactly what’s permitted and to obtain any necessary building permits.
You also may need permission from your Homeowner’s Association and the Architectural Review Committee to build a shed in your backyard.
IN THIS GUIDE
Common requirements for needing a permit to build a shed.
You usually don’t need a building permit to build an 8 x 10 shed or smaller shed, but you’ll probably need a permit to build something larger and/or with the following attributes:
- Electrical Wiring: Most areas require a permit before installing electricity in a shed, and you may be required to have some of the work done or approved by a licensed electrician.
- Plumbing: You’ll certainly need a permit to install plumbing and you may need to have the plumbing installed by a licensed professional.
- Retail or Office Use: If you are planning to use the shed to conduct business that invites the public, you will probably need a permit and might need to have it inspected by local authorities.
- Location: Some local codes only allow sheds in backyards, and others specify exactly how close they can be to property lines, trees, fences and other buildings.
- Size: Size and height restrictions for sheds are common, and some areas require that a specific type of shed foundation be used for sheds above a certain size.
- Weather: Areas of the country that are prone to hurricanes and tornadoes may require sheds to be anchored into the ground to cope with high winds.
The first step in planning your DIY shed project is always making sure what you’d like to build is allowable or you risk wasting your time and effort and time on something that may have to be removed.
What if I build a shed without a permit?
Building a shed without a permit can cause you to be fined or have a lien placed on your property. You may even be forced to tear down your new structure.
What size shed can I build without a permit?
In most areas in the USA, any shed 8×10 or less is permissible without a permit. Usually it goes by square foot, so any structure under 120 sq ft in some areas, up to 200 sq ft in others.
Twelve feet in height is usually okay, but anything taller than 12 ft would need approval by city and also by HOA.
Check with your local zoning authorities for maximum size shed without a permit.
How do I get a permit to build a shed?
The permit process usually involves submitting an online form along with a survey of the land with all its existing structures, plans that show where the shed would be located, and construction plans for the shed. Be sure to check with your local authorities for details before purchasing supplies or beginning construction.
Go to http://cityapplications.com/building-permits.html to begin the application process for your area. Just click on your state, then city. Then you should be guided through the process and requirements list specific to your city.
- What do I need to bring with me to get a permit?
- Do different states have different requirements? Yes, they do.
- How do I find out the requirements for my city/state/county?
- Who do I contact or call?
For answers to these questions, go to http://cityapplications.com/building-permits.html.
How long does it take to get a permit?
For small sheds, 1 to 2 days. Sometimes same day permits are issued. But depending on if you have all the paperwork you need and your city, it could take 1 or 2 weeks. If you need an inspection, it could take longer.
How much does a building permit cost for a shed?
- The average cost for a permit in the USA for a shed only is $50 – $100 without electric or water.
- If adding electricity and plumbing, it could add another $100-300.
- If you need an inspection, expect another $100-200 depending on the size of the shed.
- If you intend to live in your shed, the cost could be up to $6000. It must safe for ventilation and free from toxins from wood, and well insulated.
Will my taxes go up?
Usually not for a small shed with a wood foundation. But for larger sheds with cement floors, your taxes could go up slightly. Again, every state is different. If your intended use is to live in a shed or conduct business out of it or have electricity and plumbing, then yes your taxes may go up.
Remember: A nice shed on a permanent foundation adds to the value of your home and property.
Are inspections required?
Inspections are usually not required for small sheds used strictly for storage, tools, and firewood.
But you definitely need an inspection if you need electricity and plumbing, or if your intended use is for business, retail or living. Also, if you require a large or tall building, be smart, be safe.
You also want to check with your local HOA and ARC.
Who is responsible for getting permit?
You are, if you are building the shed yourself. However, if you are using a contractor, they should be responsible for getting the permit. They include this in their fees.
There are permit services that can handle everything for you, for a fee of course.
Go to HomeAdvisor.com to compare quotes and costs from top-rated Construction Permit Services Contractors in your area.
Homeowner’s Association and Architectural Review Committee
In addition to securing permits, it’s extremely important to make sure that your DIY shed project is approved by your Homeowners Association (HOA) and/or Architectural Review Committee (ARC) in your neighborhood.
HOA’s and ARC’s are usually staffed by volunteers from the community, who make it a mission to ensure that the neighborhood looks how they would like it to and building a shed usually requires their approval. Start with checking the website for the HOA and/or ARC for guidance, as the rules may have changed since you moved in.
These are some of the common restrictions on sheds:
- Size and Height: HOA’s usually don’t allow sheds larger than 12 x 16 and taller than 12 feet high;
- Shingles, Siding and Paint: It’s unlikely that any HOA will let you paint your shed hot pink, and there are sometimes requirements that shingle, siding and paint colors match your house.
- Location: Most HOA’s will not allow sheds to be located where they can be seen from the street, and some will not allow them near property lines.
- Additional Rules: Some HOA’s will require you to install additional landscaping to obscure the shed in order to obtain approval.
HOA’s and ARC’s have so many rules and restrictions about sheds because they’re considered eye sores, even though today’s sheds can be very attractive. You usually need to submit plans to the HOA and/or ARC for approval of a DIY shed project.
To sum up…We hope this guide will help to answer your questions about whether or not you need a permit to build a shed in your backyard.
Be smart, be legal and happy building!