It’s a timely question to ask before you go through the trouble of building a greenhouse in your backyard.
Yes, most likely, if you’re living in an urban area, you’ll need a permit to build a greenhouse in your backyard. But if you’re living in a rural area, a permit is questionable at best.
However, it’s wise to wonder whether you’ll need a permit or not. It depends not only on the laws in your state, but also on those in your municipality, county, and city.
The laws are pretty strict about adding new buildings onto your lot, even when it’s your private land. Thus, avoid getting your greenhouse demolished by knowing your rights in advance.
In this article, you’ll get to know the laws in your state regarding greenhouse permits. Feel free to ask your local authorities to double-check the information. Sometimes, the zoning or building department in your local government will be the one giving you the permit.
Make sure to contact them and get the relevant information that applies to your unique situation. Otherwise, you can get an idea of what’s in store if you keep reading.
Greenhouse Permits Requirements per State
Whether or not you need a permit to build a greenhouse in your backyard depends on the laws of the state that you live in. For your reference, we have included in this article the permits needed to build a greenhouse in different states. If the state that you live in is not included in our list, make sure to contact your local government before you proceed with the construction of your greenhouse.
The legal structure varies from city to city and municipality to municipality.
For example, in the municipality of Anchorage, greenhouses are considered accessory buildings (source). Usually, accessory buildings are small buildings built near your primary residence (i.e., your house).
Accordingly, you can’t build or maintain a greenhouse in your backyard. Unless:
- It’s for residential use.
- It’s 150 square feet.
- It’s not attached to a foundation.
Furthermore, you must build it 10 feet away from your primary house.
Therefore, to build a greenhouse in your backyard, you need to file for a land-use permit (source).
The required documents with your residential building worksheet are: (source)
- Two sets of drawings signed by the person who performed the structural calculations
- One set of calculations to match the drawings
- Two plot plans sealed by an Alaska Registered Land Surveyor
- A stormwater form
- A map of the Building Safety Service Area
To check the requirements in the city and borough of Juneau, click here. You may also want to research the requirements in your city if we haven’t mentioned it above.
The County of Los Angeles classifies greenhouses as Group U Occupancy structures (source). That means you can’t live inside your greenhouse nor open it to the public.
It also means you must build it using glass or plastic with aluminum frames. You must also grow plants that require special temperature conditions.
The maximum height should be 20 feet and the size should be below 5,500 square feet.
Your backyard greenhouse should be a stand-alone, single-story structure separated from surrounding buildings by 10 feet.
According to the rules in Lauderhill, you need to obtain a building permit to build a greenhouse in your backyard (source). However, your greenhouse must comply with the distance standards between buildings, setbacks, and property lines. Furthermore, you must connect your greenhouse to your house.
In Hillsborough County, you won’t need a permit when your greenhouse is less than 150 square feet (source). But, you still need to check with your zoning department.
In Charlotte County, plastic or rubber residential sheds that are 68 square feet or less don’t require a permit (source). But, they must comply with zoning setbacks. You must also secure your greenhouse from potential tropical storms.
Whether you live in Florida or another state, research the building codes of your state with UpCodes.
According to the Homeowner’s Guide to Residential Construction, you can build your greenhouse without registering as a contractor (source). But, you’ll need a permit to build it in your backyard in the city of Boise.
You’ll also need additional permits for any electrical, mechanical, or plumbing work on your greenhouse.
For example, when you’re building a garden shed located in a flood plain, you’ll need a permit. If it’s a stand-alone greenhouse that’s over 200 square feet, you must contact your Planning division to confirm setbacks. Call (208) 608-7070 for more information.
Check the Current Building Codes as well (source).
In Idaho Falls, a building permit is required (source). Zoning ordinance provisions require your backyard to be vacant. Open backyards change the shape of the neighborhood and act as privacy shields.
It’s also crucial for protection against snow and wind in eastern Idaho. The last thing you’d want is to have the wind wipe your greenhouse.
As a rule of thumb, any stand-alone building over 120 square feet that contains equipment will require a building permit. Additional work on your greenhouse might call for more permits. Therefore, you might want to contact the Building Division (source).
In Meridian City, if it’s smaller than 200 square feet, you won’t need a permit. However, if it’s larger, you’ll need one (source).
In Kootenai County, if your greenhouse is larger than 120 square feet, you’ll need a permit (source).
Generally, if you’re living in a Flood Zone, you’ll need a permit (source).
In general, accessory farm structures built for an agricultural business don’t require a permit within the Hamilton County Plan Commission Jurisdictional area (source). But, you’ll need an Accessory Structures Permit to build a greenhouse in your backyard. You can also expect to pay inspection fees (source).
In Johnson County, a greenhouse under 200 square feet won’t require a permit. But, greenhouses built on concrete slabs or that have electricity require a Residential Accessory Structure Building Permit.
Generally, a listed contractor can get the permit on your behalf when you’re the homeowner.
To get approved, you’ll need to provide some documents, like application forms, site plans, and a contractor listing exemption if you’re pulling the permit yourself.
In the town of Munster, you’ll need a permit to build a greenhouse in your backyard (source). In addition, your contractor must have a license with the town.
If you’re living in the Evansville Vanderburgh area, you’ll need a permit to build a new greenhouse well (source) . You can submit your plans to the Area Plan Commission office for review. You can also apply online.
According to the Zoning Ordinance of the city of Auburn, a greenhouse is an enclosed structure where you can grow trees, shrubs, vines, and plants (source). Some things you can do with a greenhouse include selling the greenhouse’s products, supplies, and gardening tools storage.
So, a permit is required for building a greenhouse in your backyard in this city. But, there are some design standards to follow. You must use your greenhouse, as you stated in your application. If the inspectors found that you’re using the greenhouse for another purpose, you might get fined, have it removed, or both.
You can’t convert your greenhouse for other uses without permission either.
Under the state construction code, you don’t need a building permit to build a greenhouse in your backyard in Michigan. As a farmer, you can get an exemption (source).
Since a backyard greenhouse is technically a “farm building” for “agricultural purposes,” you might be exempted as a homeowner as well. But, you need to do your homework for that.
The exemption doesn’t include commercial use of your greenhouse. You can get tax relief as a greenhouse business, but you might need to get a permit at this stage.
When you want to build a greenhouse larger than 200 square feet in your backyard in the city of Missoula, you’ll need a permit. You can see the application (source), print it, fill it, and send it with the required documents to:
Missoula, MT 59802
Great Falls also requires a building permit from the Department of Planning and Community Development, located in the civic center (source).
In Billings, you’re likely to need a permit for a greenhouse in your backyard. Stand-alone sheds smaller than 200 square feet don’t need a permit (source). But, since greenhouses are different, a permit might be necessary.
In Nashua, you’ll need a building permit to build and maintain a greenhouse in your backyard. Your fees will also depend on the size of your greenhouse.
You’ll also need a land use permit regardless of the size of your building.
According to New Hampshire laws, the builder must also have a license to install electrical and plumbing fittings.
If all your documents pass the interview, it takes a few days to get approved.
In The Colony, a greenhouse is a “glass-enclosed space with a controlled environment for growing plants, vegetables, and fruits out of season (source).” You’ll need a building permit to build a greenhouse larger than 120 square feet in your backyard.
Your site plan should include the building’s dimensions and its distance from surrounding buildings. The application fee is $50.
You can’t connect your primary water system to your greenhouse, but you can connect electric utilities to the primary meter.
If your backyard greenhouse (defined as an accessory building) is 200 square feet or smaller, you won’t need a permit. Although, some cities do require a permit for 120-square-foot greenhouses.
Besides, some cities require a building permit regardless of your greenhouse’s size. Some permits require a fee, while some don’t. It all depends on your local laws.
You must pay attention to setbacks and the distance from the property line. Furthermore, the height of your greenhouse is subject to some limits as well.
As you know, each city has its own rules. Contact your local zoning department to be safe.
Vermont is a farming and gardening state. So, it’s no surprise that you’re allowed to build a greenhouse in your backyard. But, not without a permit. Like Maine and New Hampshire, Vermont is part of the RGGI. So, the laws regarding greenhouse gas emissions are strict.
The first step you need to take is to fully design your greenhouse. But before you lay the foundation and build it, you’ll need to obtain a construction permit through the Department of Environmental Conservation.
You’ll also need to apply for an air pollution control permit, whether you’re building your greenhouse from scratch, converting your shed, or upgrading an existing greenhouse.
Furthermore, you’ll need to submit information about the site, contact information, and maps.
Among the additional information to submit is how you plan to use your greenhouse, chemicals, vents, and more.
You must study the requirements, and if you have any questions, you may contact a permit specialist.
Also, you’ll need to provide a certification signed by a government official and to notify your neighbors and get them to sign a notification certification.
The application fee for a brand new greenhouse is $15,000, and you might pay other administrative fees as well.
A greenhouse is one of the best assets you can have in your backyard. If you are a plant-lover, having a greenhouse is a dream come true, but there are many factors to consider before getting one, one of the major one being where you should install it. Read our article to know where to put your greenhouse in your backyard.
The Typical Process of Obtaining a Permit
You’ll need a permit to build a greenhouse in your backyard unless you live in a remote area. You’ll also need zoning approval from the building department in your state.
The complexity of the process will increase if you have stubborn neighbors. Finally, if you’re living in a highly residential area, the fees will increase as well.
By nature, greenhouses are agricultural structures. In areas without special zones of agriculture, they serve a vital role. Thus, the laws and regulations are slightly stricter, especially for commercial greenhouses.
How to apply for a zoning permit?
Don’t skip doing your research. Greenhouses aren’t popular with zoning enforcement officers and committee members. You’ll need to explain your project from A to Z. It means you’ll need to understand what greenhouses are, so you can quickly explain what you want.
Next, you want to make sure you have a thorough understanding of greenhouse regulations in your city. Building your greenhouse per the rules will increase your chance of swift approval.
Also, understand the rules surrounding land use as well as the site plan. Prepare to explain where you plan on placing the greenhouse in your backyard. Things like the distance between your greenhouse and your house and how it relates to your neighbors are essential details.
A land surveyor will help you prepare the site plan. But, you should have an idea of the topographical nature of your backyard.
You also want to plan expansion ahead of time. As your greenhouse grows more prominent, it’ll need more space. You may eventually even need an addition. So, keep the expansion in mind.
Remember, the person responsible for the inspection might be a volunteer. Volunteers give their time to the community for free, and you don’t want to scare them away. Be kind, and prepare to answer all their questions.
The more accurate information you can provide, the easier the process will be for everyone involved.
Obtaining a permit to build a greenhouse in your backyard is a negotiation. You try to convince your government that your greenhouse will benefit the community and convince your neighbors that your greenhouse is safe and won’t cause them any headaches.
So, you might have to attend a public hearing or a community council to present your case and win the permit.
In some cases, concerned neighbors might be resistant because they think it’s a bad thing for them. So, prepare to answer questions like:
- Will your planned greenhouse decrease the value of their property?
- Will you attract more traffic to the area?
- Will the pesticides you use affect their lives?
- How will you get in and out of your greenhouse?
- Will you have a parking area?
- Will your greenhouse’s vents and fans make noise?
- How will you store your equipment?
- How will you deal with suppliers?
- When do you plan to use your greenhouse?
You must prepare for all these questions. So, sit down and think of every objection your neighbor might have, and be ready to tackle them sensibly.
What to do if they deny your application?
Getting approved doesn’t mean it is the end of the process. You may still have to obtain a building permit, which is a big step.
If the zoning department denies your application, they must provide valuable reasons. Your next step should be appealing to the court. If you can prove an error in the process or a wrong interpretation of the law, the court will review it and give you an answer.
The court will approve the denial if you don’t provide adequate reasons.
So, prepare your appeal based on sound reasoning. Strong appeals may include procedure violations, failing to post notices on time, failure to file for public view of information pertaining to the application. Furthermore, some of your neighbors might be living far from your home, and your greenhouse won’t even affect them.
If the court approves your case, the Commission will have to act upon it.
Remember, it’s not a war between you and your zoning commission. They want what’s best for you, your neighbors, and the community as a whole.
So, build a strong case and don’t worry about the outcome. If you do your homework, obtaining the permits and building your greenhouse shouldn’t take more than a few months.
Greenhouses are something that a lot of gardening enthusiasts want in their backyards. Aside from its interesting look, greenhouses serve a very important purpose in terms of growing plants. Read our article to know the main purpose of a backyard greenhouse.
Greenhouses are excellent additions to backyards, especially for those who love to garden. Because of their structure and how they work, they allow plants to thrive all year round, even those which would normally die in the winter. If you want to have this structure in your backyard, there are a few things that you need to do before you can begin construction.
The laws vary per state, but there is a very high chance that you will need to secure a permit before you can build a greenhouse in your backyard. This process may seem tedious and difficult, but as long as you stick to the process and know the details of your project up until the smallest detail, you are on track to receive the permit that you need to build a greenhouse in your backyard.