Building Codes for Sheds: Facts and Tips

August 3, 2017 , In: Exterior Improvements, Outdoors , With: No Comments

So, you need some extra storage space outside, and you’ve decided it’s time to build a shed. That’s great, but do you know where to begin? The first step is to familiarize yourself with the building codes for sheds.

Believe it or not, whenever you build on your own property, you must have a building permit. This is true of all sorts of structures, even decks, carports, fences and other additions. The procedure to obtain a permit is the same no matter what type of structure you’re building, and the codes for each area can differ.

Make sure you know local area building codes before you begin. You’ll need to look at the various aspects of your shed to determine if your structure will meet the codes for your area. It’s your responsibility to obtain a building permit before starting any construction on the shed.

Wooden shed

Common Zoning Restrictions

While building codes can differ, you’ll find some common ground on many of the restrictions in various areas. Consider these when building your shed.

Size: Size restrictions often apply in many areas.

Placement: You’ll likely be able to place the shed in your backyard, but you may find it can only occupy a certain percentage of the yard, like 20 percent. Placement also includes distance from other structures and objects, like fences, pools and trees. Check your local codes for distances sheds must be from these objects.

Purpose: Some areas restrict how many stories the shed can be, and if you’re using your shed for business instead of storage, this must be made clear as well.

Attachments: Area restrictions often differ on whether you can attach the shed to your home.

Foundation type: Some areas place restrictions on the type of foundation you can use with your shed construction. Two types are common: permanent and on-grade. The building inspector can decide which type is best for your structure.

Electricity: If you want lights and power, check your area restrictions first. Local codes often include very specific restrictions on electrical wiring.

Area weather: How’s the weather where you live? Are you in a tornado- or hurricane-prone area? If so, you most likely need to anchor your shed to the ground. And what about freezing temps in winter? If it’s cold where you are, check for specific foundation requirements.

Shed in winter

More Building Tips

Permits are important, so get one before you build. If you don’t, your city’s government can force you to move your shed or even take it down entirely. You don’t want to waste your time and money on something you can’t keep. Here are some other tips for you.

Why Building Codes?

Towns and cities have building codes for a reason: to ensure your newly built structure is safe and not going to blow over in strong winds, have a roof collapse or even sink into the ground. Following codes and having inspections can prevent all three.

Why Inspections?

Building inspectors aren’t just nosy. These people do have a purpose, and that is making sure your shed is built properly and sturdily. Inspections also check to ensure your shed is placed properly and not over a septic system or near an encroaching wetland.

An inspector will also make sure your structure is not straddling a property line — which you’ll appreciate, as this may help prevent some feuds among neighbors.

If you’ve followed all codes and restrictions, there’s no need to be stressed out about an inspection. And if the inspector does find a problem, you can fix it and redo the inspection, so there are no worries there, either.

Building Tips

Once you have the permit in hand and are ready to start building, there are some tips that can help you be successful at passing an inspection and protect your investment.

  • Avoid building your shed in a low-lying area of your property where water can collect. This leads to water damage, like rotting wood, mold and mildew, and even blistering paint.
  • Follow the placement distances set by your city’s codes and regulations, but construct the shed as close to your home as you can. This is most convenient if you’re using it for storage.
  • If possible, don’t build the shed in a completely shaded area. It’s better to build in a semi-sunny spot to keep the shed dry and discourage mold growth.

No work can begin on your shed until you have a permit. But how do you go about getting it? You’ll need to have some information on hand, as well as your plans for the build, and fill out the application for your area.  Most permits are processed within a week, so it’s not a long wait to begin your project.

In most cases, you should have no problem getting the building permit you need. And as long as you follow area building codes for sheds and abide by the restrictions, you should pass an inspection easily. So, don’t allow the legalities of building a structure stop you from putting together the shed you need or want.

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Building Codes for Sheds: Facts and Tips
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Building Codes for Sheds: Facts and Tips
So you’ve decided it’s time to build a shed. That’s great, but do you know where to begin? First, familiarize yourself with the building codes for sheds.
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Your Wild Home
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Editor at Your Wild Home
Hey! I'm Megan. I am a dog-lover and enjoy exploring the outdoors. Your Wild Home covers a lot of topics, including (but not limited to) home improvement, home decor, construction, real estate, and sustainability. I enjoy writing in third-person and I am addicted to chocolate, coffee, and terrible puns. Learn more on my About Me page!

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