Do I Need A Permit To Build A Shed? - Zacs Garden

Do I Need A Permit To Build A Shed?

Sheds in North America

To find your local permit laws, click here.

The short answer is...


Something small like a horizontal or vertical shed doesn't usually need a permit, whereas a 12x12 shed (or larger) will.

Every municipality (whether a township, county, city etc.) differs in their rules for sheds (aka Accessory buildings). It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with your local regulations.


Although local governments have different rules and regulations regarding sheds, they all have commonalities. We have picked the most common for an easy to read guide on what to look for in your council regulations.

The 6 Standard Requirements of Shed Permits

1. Size

Every City or County has a limit on size, usually in square feet. The average limit is around 100 sq ft. (10x10) to 120 sq.ft (12x10).

2. Placement

Building sheds on an easement (underground pipes and infrastructure), or too close to a boundary or another building is a No-No. Minimum distance from fences and other buildings is typically around 3ft. This includes any guttering or eves overhanging your shed walls. So we recommend that you give yourself some extra space.

3. Height

There will be a limit on shed height, although it is less standard. It can be linked to a certain gap on overhead powerlines, or fence heights. If you have a HOA (Homeowners Assocation) they will have stricter rules on this than the City or County.

4. Building Standards

If you live in an area susceptible to harsh weather conditions (i.e. Tornado Alley), you may need to get a permit so the city or county know your shed can withstand those weather conditions. But even in areas that have moderate climates, the City or County may ask you to build the shed to a certain standard, (i.e. 4" thick reinforced concrete slab for the foundation.) In this case they may send someone around to inspect the building, (like they would with a house) to see it done to their standards.

5. Utilities

If you are connecting water and/or electricity you will most likely need a permit.

6. Purpose

If you plan on working out of your shed, and using it as a place of business, then you will again most likely need a permit.

What Do You Need to Do to Get A Permit?

Permits Inspections Licenses Codes Words Arrow Road Signs

There is no doubt that getting a permit is a hassle. The paperwork, added time and extra money required CAN TURN PEOPLE OFF putting up a shed altogether. Unfortunately, for the DIYer there is no real shortcuts.

Knowing the system does help but if you are applying for permits once every 10-20 years, its always going to feel like a first time.

Although, just like the standard requirements above, THERE ARE COMMON ITEMS that local governments ask for when it comes to attaining a shed building permit. They are to provide:

1. Plans

An engineered/working/plan drawings of the building, with details of materials, sizes and angles. (They may also ask for detail section drawings of some areas for clarity)

2. Paperwork

The paperwork that goes along with applying for the permit. (Provided forms filled in)

3. Contractors License

If using one, and the contractor will typically provide it. Owner builders will have another form to fill in.

4. Insurance

Any insurance information (if asked for).

The 5 Most Common Shed Related Questions Asked Planning Departments

1. Who is responsible for getting a permit?

If you hire a company to build your shed then they are generally the one who takes care of the permit (definitely ask them about this)

But if you buy a shed kit, then you become the contractor. Where I live this is called ‘owner builder’, but im not sure about everywhere else

2. Where do I get my permit application and other information?

Your local planning department will be located in your local municipality building. It's basically the same place who you pay your taxes to. Google them, or use our map to find your local planning department

3. Who do i talk to at the planning department?

If you have any questions that aren’t covered online, then the person to ask for at the department is usually the  “plan examiner” or “building department director”

4. How long does it take to get a permit approved?

The short answer is anywhere from a few days to 6 weeks. There can also be other delays (although they are typically only short) where a planning inspector will need to inspect during construction. For example your dug out foundation may need to be inspected before you fill it in and put a shed on it

5. What happens if I don't get a permit?

It is very likely you will get caught. Local governments have access to up to date maps (like google maps) so they can easily check your property and see any new structures on there

Worst case scenario is that they can make you take down the shed. I've heard stories of councils demolishing buildings before because they were not permitted (and thought unsafe) but I haven't seen it for myself so i am not sure if this is a rumor or true story

What if I am in a HOA?

Homeowners Associations (HOA) are usually more CONCERNED WITH THE LOOK of the development, rather than the structural stability.

Common rules for HOA's are to do with:

1. Shed Heights

Shed's may be restricted from being visable from the street, which means no shed higher than the fence line.

2. Positioning

No sheds in certain areas, like the front yard. Although some city and council's do have a say about this, it can come up in the HOA rules as well.

3. Look and Color

Sheds typically have to fit in with the status quo and the look of the residence. No backyard 'Trump Tower', sorry :/


And you wonder why people use storage units! It certainly is a lot of stuffing around for not much.

We hope this has helped you in some way answer your question "Do I need a permit to build a shed?"

If you have a question, or know of something that should be on here but isn't, you can contact me using the contact form

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