One of the often overlooked factors in most people’s backyard shed building project is the building permit. People seem to really resist this part of the process. Maybe it’s the mentality that it’s just a shed, or it’s too much of a hassle and too much red tape. Maybe for you it’s the distaste of having to pay yet another form of tax.

Whatever your reason, there likely are building codes that apply to your garden shed project. This is particularly true if you plan to install electricity or plumbing. Where safety is concerned your local building department should, and does, have a lot to say. They will want to inspect your work, and certify that it doesn’t present a hazard to you, your family or neighbors. You will need a shed permit in these instances. This makes good, common sense.

Some jurisdictions allow very small sheds, such as wood sheds or small tool sheds to be built without a shed permit. You will still need to take care that you don’t encroach on your neighbor’s property and that you observe ordinances about setbacks from property lines. You don’t want to get into a dispute with your neighbor over a shed! A small claims court might require you to tear it down, or move your new tool shed to a compliant site. You will also need to take care to not build on a utility easement. If you do, don’t be surprised some day to see a power company bulldozer making quick work of removing your shed. It is within their right if it interferes with their provision of services. In all likelihood they would give you an opportunity to move it yourself, but why take a chance?

In a word, it is up to you to check with your building department and make certain you comply with local ordinances. If you fail to get shed permits and your shed project is later discovered (such as happens when your assessor pays a visit), you could face fines and penalties or even be required to tear it down. The larger concern is safety. Don’t put yourself or others at risk; just do it right. Building a backyard shed is an enjoyable project that should result in a very useful and practical addition to your yard. Done properly it can also add value to your home. For maximum benefit hire competent professionals to do electrical and plumbing work you are not qualified to do. Your contractor will know what permits to obtain, and will most likely take care of that for you.

The following is a short list to get you going and keep you on track:

  • Find a set of plans that meet your budget, size and use needs, and that contain easy to understand illustrations and instructions for every step of the building process. Some include very detailed information on how to build a shed and other woodworking projects, and make it possible for even an inexperienced builder to achieve excellent results.
  • These plans will help you gain approval for your shed project as well. Take them to your local Building Department, and they will be able to tell you exactly what permits and inspections, if any, you will need.
  • Get bids from electrical and plumbing contractors for work you are not qualified to perform.
  • Conduct a hunt for used materials. You can save a bundle by shopping garage sales, used materials outlets and demolition sites.

Obtaining permits and waiting for inspections is a hassle, no doubt. But knowing your local requirements, and complying with the law should give you peace of mind. Do it right from the start, and enjoy your shed for a long time to come.

Shed Permit Required? – Know Before You Build