Having a shed is a great way to add the storage space that you need. Building your own shed can be a fun, cost-effective way to do it. Before you buy the lumber, it is important to find out if you need to have a building permit to put the shed on your property. 

What Is A Building Permit?

A shed permit gives a homeowner permission to do construction work on their property. It will help you with the local codes and makes sure the work is done safely. You will need to have your shed plans ready when you apply for the permit. The things you will need to know can include:

  • Building plans showing specific details for your shed plan including:
    • Size
    • Foundation type
    • Siding
    • Roofing
    • The number and placement of doors and windows 
    • Lumber sizes
    • Framing information for the floor, walls, and roof
  • Where do you want to build the shed
  • Any other information the city or county requires

When you apply, approval is not always quick. It is important to get a permit before you start construction. Your shed could be removed if it goes against zoning codes. 

What Factors Determine if You Need a Permit?

Not all shed plans require a permit. There are many things to consider before determining if one is needed for yours. These could be:

1. Size

This depends on the city, county, or state zoning codes. Some smaller sheds, such as 6×8 or 8×8, may not need a permit. However, larger shed sizes, like 16×20 or 16×24 may be restricted entirely. 

2. Intended Purpose

A shed that will be used as a work, living, or business space will need a permit almost anywhere you live. This is to be sure all the work is permitted and inspected by the local zoning department. 

3. Electricity

If you want to wire electricity into your shed, you will likely need a permit. 

4. Placement

Some places have conditions on where you can build a shed in your yard. You may also run into a limit on what percentage of your yard can be used. Many times, a shed cannot be attached to the house. It also cannot be too close to the following:

  • The house
  • Property lines
  • Trees
  • Fence
  • Other buildings on the property

5. Severe weather

Some parts of the country require sheds to be anchored in the event of heavy winds and storms. There are also foundation methods for those who live in climates with temperatures that go below freezing. 

6. Homeowners Association (HOA).

If you live in an area with an HOA, you should always check with them first when you want to change your property. There are rules and regulations that are different for every HOA. Make sure you are following those rules first. 

7. Foundation type.

There could be restrictions on the kind of shed foundation that you use. 

How Do I Get a Shed Permit?

Getting a permit is a process that is smoother if you are prepared. The following tips will make it easier when you are ready to apply.

  1. Find out what your local zoning board requires and allows. It will help to talk to someone who is familiar with the zoning and building codes. This is the time to plan out your budget for this project. 
  2. Decide on a shed- decide exactly what you want. What is your shed going to be used for? How big will it be? Do you want extras, like a loft area? When you are these decisions, they can be drawn into your shed plan. 
  3. Complete the application- find out where you have to go to get it. Some places let you fill it out online. Some require you to send it in by mail. Keep in mind that application approvals can be immediate or take up to a week. To find this information, go to your state licensing website. 
  4. Get your permit- once your permit is approved, you can start construction on your shed. 

How Much Do Shed Permits Cost?

Sometimes it’s a standard amount of $15 to $25, but often the fee is based on the overall cost of the shed. For example, the fee might be $10 per $1,000 of cost. So, the application fee for a $3,000 shed would be about $30. The best idea is to be prepared with your shed plan when you go apply for the permit.

What Are Zoning and Building Codes?

You will often hear about the zoning and building codes when you are building a shed. But, what are they? Simply put, they are requirements that can affect how you use your property. 

  • Zoning Codes- these apply to the land you will be building on. These will tell you how your land can be used and what kind of structure you will be allowed to build on it. Even if you don’t need a building permit, your shed has to comply with the local zoning codes. Land can be zoned for commercial, residential, or industrial use. 
  • Building codes- these are for the building itself. These are physical features that can include anything that can affect safety or accessibility. These are specific rules and requirements that must be met. These codes are formed by the International Building Code (IBC). Building permits do not cover electricity or plumbing which have their own permits. 


Joseph TruiniJoseph Truini is a host on the Today’s Homeowner TV show and co-hosts the weekly Today’s Homeowner Radio Show. He has written three best-selling shed-building books and lives in Roxbury, Connecticut.