A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting a Shed Permit

As you look forward to buying a shed, you’re anticipating the benefits that will come with that extra space. But you also know there’s work to do before you get there. Besides the various decisions you need to make, there’s also the matter of a local building permit. And, if you live in an HOA, there may be other paperwork you need to file.

While some locations may waive the permit for sheds under a certain size, most shed buyers will need to apply for a permit.

To help you out, we’ve put together some useful information.

What is a shed permit?

The process of installing a shed is regulated by local municipalities. Shed construction falls under the guidelines of the International Building Code (IBC), but local requirements may be more restrictive than the IBC. A shed permit is a document that you obtain from your local government that authorizes you to construct a shed. Typically, these requirements apply whether you build it on site or have it delivered.

Why do I need a shed permit?

Most communities have decided that they can promote the safety and well-being of their fellow citizens by establishing standards for sheds. By requiring permits, local governments are able to see to it that sheds are built safely and that they are not constructed in ways that would be eyesores or impediments to the general public.

These policies may be inconvenient in the shed-buying process, but if you decide to skip the permit process, you are risking future penalties. These penalties could include fines or having a lien placed on your property. They might even mean that your shed will be removed.

Are shed permits always necessary?

Most municipalities require a permit for a shed. Some waive these requirements for sheds under a certain size, but minimum requirements vary from location to location, with thresholds ranging from 80 ft2 to 150 ft2 or more.

Even where jurisdictions do not require permits for smaller sheds, they may still require permits depending on the intended use. They may also require them if you will be installing electricity or plumbing. Because of these variables, you should find out for yourself whether you will need a permit. This is one situation where it truly is better to be safe than sorry.

HOAs – What They Are and How They Affect Your Shed Purchase

What is an HOA?

For those living in more rural areas, the term HOA may be unfamiliar because HOAs are generally found in planned or organized neighborhoods. People who buy homes in these neighborhoods become part of the neighborhood organization, also known as the “homeowners association.”

Neighborhoods with HOAs have certain advantages. For instance, the HOA may take care of tasks such as lawn mowing and snow shoveling. It also sets building and aesthetic standards for the neighborhood. This ensures that residents don’t end up with neighbors who paint their house with garish colors or build architectural oddities.

How could an HOA affect my shed purchase?

The other side of the HOA coin is that if you live in one of these neighborhoods, your desire to install a shed will likely be constrained by HOA policy. These policies, which differ widely among HOAs, can affect the color, size, and design of your shed. And they may even affect whether you can have a shed at all.

The following are some common HOA restrictions on sheds:

Size and height

Sheds above a certain square footage or wall and roof height may be ruled out.

Paint, shingles, and siding

Some HOAs require that your shed’s siding and roofing materials match those of your home. If you have tan vinyl siding and dark grey asphalt shingles on your home, your shed will need them too.

Location

Your municipality probably has requirements for how close to a property line you can build. Your HOA may have its own setback requirements, which may be more restrictive than the municipality’s.

The typical process for obtaining a shed permit

Step 1: Research

Since HOAs tend to be more restrictive than municipalities, if you live in an HOA, start there. Read through the guidelines regarding sheds and outbuildings. Reach out to your HOA, and make sure the shed you have in mind will be approved. If you don’t live in an HOA, then start your research by getting information from your municipality or township. Today, much of this information, often including permit applications, is available online and can be quickly found in an online search.

Step 2: Make a plan

Since it might take several weeks to have your permit approved, it’s a good idea to start this process early. Not only will you have the paperwork on hand before the shed arrives, but going through the application process will let you know of regulations that may affect your choice of sheds.

Start by having a general idea of the shed size you desire. This may affect the cost of the permit fee and whether you will even need a permit. But be prepared to adjust your plan as you proceed. Gather basic documents and details so that they can be available during the application process.

Our Shed Designer is an online tool that allows you to experiment with different options for windows, roof and siding colors, doors, ramps, and other details – and see them in 3-D as you do so.

Step 3: Collect information and documentation

While some locations may require drawings, at Breezy Acres we’ve found that this is not usually the case, especially if you list yourself as the general contractor on the application. If you do need information when you’re applying, we are glad to answer questions about how the sheds are constructed.

Joseph Triuni from Today’s Homeowner suggests having these basic pieces of information on hand as you apply:

  • Dimensions
  • Foundation Type
  • Siding Materials
  • Roofing Materials
  • Number and Placement of Windows and Doors
  • Framing Lumber Sizes
  • Framing Spacing for the Floors, Walls, and Roof 

Step 4: Apply

Every locality has its own method of applying, so we can give only general guidance here. Your initial research probably indicated whether you need to go in person, send something by mail, or file something online. Make sure you know how much the application fees are, and make sure you have the payment in an acceptable form. Cash, checks, and credit cards are typical forms of payment, but not every location accepts every form.

At Breezy Acres, we strongly encourage you to list yourself as the general contractor when filling out your application. Since we are only delivering sheds, and not doing work on your property, this is an acceptable course of action. We’ve found that the application process is much simpler and smoother when you list yourself as the general contractor. Listing us as the general contractor can turn a 1-page application into a 4-page application.

Step 5: Wait

It may take some time for the HOA committee or municipality to approve your building. In the meantime, continue your planning and dreaming process.

Step 6: Approval

We hope your application goes through without any problems. However, if you need to tweak your shed to meet HOA or municipality requirements, talk to us. We may be able to adjust your building to achieve  a workable solution. 

Preparing for the arrival of your new shed

When ordering a pre-built shed, you will need to plan for its arrival. This means getting your property ready for moving-in day. Think about any obstacles that block the way from the road to your shed site. You may need to remove some tree branches, move lawn ornaments out of the way, or even take down some fencing. You also will need to have a stone pad in place.

For helpful information on the delivery process, including detailed measurement guidelines, visit our Delivery & Site Prep page.

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