Quite often, people buying a fresh backyard storage shed aren’t sure about the permit requirements for the shed. At times, people considering a shed do not even spare a thought about getting a shed building permit. If you are one among such people who aren’t sure about shed permits, here is everything you need to know about building a shed without planning permission.
What is a Shed?
Let’s start by trying to understand what a shed really is. A shed is basically a single-story roofed building or an allotment used to store things; it may also get used as a workshop. Sheds could vary in their size, the way they are built, materials used, and also locations. Generally, a shed is not built to function as an isolated structure. It usually subordinates the primary building but without sharing walls with the main building. Moreover, a shed may not have direct access or be attached to the principal structure.
A building permit or planning permission is usually needed to construct or install any accessory building such as a shed. Within residential zones, accessory structures are allowed only on lots having standard principal usage. Irrespective of the size of the structure, a shed should conform to local building codes and regulations.
In some states or regions, an accessory building is allowed only in rear yards. In case the building is appended to a primary structure, it would then go down as an “addition”, which would be inspected and reviewed under a different set of rules and procedures. Simple, common repairs to existing buildings don’t need permits. But if the existing structure is getting replaced, you would require a demolition permit. Any device or electrical wiring providing electricity to any accessory building should be allowed, inspected, and get a final inspection approval before utilization.
A shed permit is necessary to comply with the code requirements. The shed should be anchored to withstand wind loads. A single story shed that has a floor area of less than a particular number of square feet wouldn’t need any structural review but a final inspection would be required to properly verify anchorage and location. Multiple-story sheds and sheds having a floor area more than a certain square feet should have floors and footings designed as per the local city codes. In addition, these sheds could need framing and footing inspections. Wood floor systems should be devised to carry a specific load.
Again, the application process would vary across cities and towns. Usually, a finished structure permit application and a couple of site plan copies would be needed. The application must have all your contact details. The estimated valuation would also show up on the application, with a fee typically applicable to this aspect of the whole process. The site plan must exhibit the location and size of the shed proposed, and all of the site’s existing structures, and physical space from lot lines. Construction plans are usually not needed. Before permit issuance, a zoning specialist would review the applications.
Sheds that are much bigger in floor area and with multiple stories would need a finished building permit application, a couple of site plan copies, and two construction plan sets providing necessary clarity and dimensions that exhibit the character and nature of work needed to be done. Again, for setback compliance, these documents would be reviewed by a zoning specialist. A structure plan specialist would also peruse the application and offer inspection instructions and code notes before issuing the permit.
Is a Permit Mandatory?
To be honest, there’s no straight answer to this question. It basically depends on the city or state you live in. Generally, cities and states have unique building codes and laws. A building permit’s necessity also hinges on the structure’s size. In Virginia, for instance, a shed that doesn’t measure more than 200 square feet wouldn’t need the place’s owner to procure a permit. However, the individual would require a shed zoning permit. Therefore, if you are considering buying a barn, shed, or any other similar structure, it’s recommended to visit the county or city’s government site for further details. The website would invariably present specific building codes and laws applicable to the area. Alternatively, you may also talk to your local government office representatives on the phone and discuss about your shed plans.
You may also build a shed in a city or county in America that has zero zoning, planning, or building codes. In the States, building codes are usually applicable at the county or city level. Generally, America doesn’t enforce or have specific building codes in some of its counties. These counties usually have a sparse population. If you build a shed there, you would probably not be bothered by any county or city official, unless your structure isn’t infringing property rights of another person. And if you own a huge stretch of land, some counties could come up with special permits to let you erect buildings sans conformance to inspection or code. However, the option is still not completely free from bureaucracy as you would still have to apply for an exemption.
Why are Building Codes So Important?
Before you start your building project, it’s crucial you are extremely certain about the permit requirements. In other words, you must get your building permit facts right. If an individual was to erect a shed on his property sans a proper building permit, he may get fined for his failure to follow local rules and guidelines. Moreover, if the shed is erected in close proximity to property line, the individual would have to bring the entire shed down and start from scratch. You may even move the shed to another place along with the gravel, but you can imagine the costs. The cost would increase further if the shed has a concrete slab, since the concrete slab would have to be extended to encompass the new spot where the shed is getting moved to. Therefore, spend some time on learning building and zoning codes. It may take some time but it would certainly be worth it.
Looking for more information on building a shed? Take a look at our My Shed Plans review here.