Regulations for Building a Shed


Sheds or outbuildings are a handsome addition to any landscape. They are useful buildings, and simple to assemble. Many home improvement stores even sell kits, which have pre-cut lumber that the builder or carpenter simply nails together. Before building one, however, be aware that there are local building regulations you must adhere to. Consulting the local zoning board for guidance on any restrictions is recommended by David Stiles, a noted designer and author on sheds. Not doing so could lead to possible fines or even a tear-down order.

Building Permits

  • Consult with your city or county building department to find out what permits are needed. You may have to submit a set of blueprints to the building department to obtain a permit. If the department will not issue a permit, more than likely the inspector has found deficiencies in the prints.

Setback Restrictions

  • There may be setback regulations or restrictions on your land, such as no buildings permitted closer than 10 feet from a property line. More than likely you will have to submit a plat along with the blueprints, showing the location of the proposed shed.

Easement Restrictions

  • There may be rights of easement by third parties. Usually, you can't place a building on these easements. For example, if there is a buried telephone cable on your land, the phone company can have a right of easement, requiring no building over the easement in case they have to dig to fix a broken cable. You may not even be aware these rights exist if they were written before you acquired the land. When you submit a plat for obtaining a building permit, the zoning inspector checks for rights of easment and may deny the permit if the location of the shed infringes upon those rights.

Expert Guidance

  • The authorities that have the final say--your local building department or zoning board--can provide you with expert guidance. Before beginning a shed project, seek out their guidance on the regulations for sheds and outbuildings. These vary greatly form county to county or city to city. Never assume that the regulations of one county carry over to another county. For example, one county may specify a solid foundation while another accepts cinder block piers.

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  • Photo Credit winter shed image by Paul Coskery from
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