Do You Need a Permit for a Backyard Shed?

Backyard Shed

The struggle is real in keeping your gardening, backyard tools, equipment, crafts, and power supplies in place. That’s why many homeowners decide to build their sheds where they can keep all the items. A backyard shed can either serve as storage, a working area, or a place where you can craft in peace. But, do you need a permit to build one?

Generally, you don’t need a permit to build a small shed. A 6′ x 8′ and an 8′ x 10′ backyard shed belongs to the small size category. However, if you are building a shed larger than 16′ x 24′ or 16′ x 20′, you will need a permit.

In this article, we will tackle whether you will need a building permit to install a backyard shed. We will also discuss the three common shed sizes and placement ideas and tips.


Do You Need a Permit for a Backyard Shed?

Backyard sheds play an important storage role for our home equipment, crafts materials, and other things we tend to keep for long-term use and purposes. You have probably thought a lot about what will go inside your shed, and that’s made you excited about building one. But, do you need a permit to do so?

You generally don’t need a permit to build a small shed. A 6”x8” and an 8”x10” backyard shed belongs to the small size category. However, if you are building a shed larger than this, like a garage-sized shed, you will need to acquire a permit beforehand.

Before building a backyard shed, you must visit your local country or city zoning department to learn about the requirements you need to follow. Building codes vary depending on the location, and it is your responsibility, as a homeowner, to acquire the necessary permits if you are planning on building a backyard shed. Keep in mind that you must consult and verify your city’s or country’s requirements before buying and building a shed.

Each state has different building codes, and if you violate those, the local authorities may request to relocate or remove your shed, which can represent another cost for you, aside from the penalty they will be charging you. While some states allow homeowners to have a shed in their backyards without obtaining any building permit, others don’t.

Below are a few general guidelines you must be aware of that could determine whether your backyard shed requires you to get a permit or not.


  1. Size

Your shed’s size matters, and in some states, authorities restrict building backyard sheds larger than 16′ x 24′ or 16′ x20′. Violating the outdoor building structure codes can cost you a great amount of money.


  1. Electricity

In most states, when you plan on wiring your shed with electricity, you need to acquire a permit. But, if you will be solely using your shed for storage purposes and electricity isn’t needed, you will not need to get a permit.


  1. Placement

Some state and local codes restrict homeowners from building their sheds near their residence fence, trees, property line, pools, and other buildings. Meanwhile, some states don’t allow homeowners to build sheds attached to their homes and garages.


  1. Purpose

When building backyard sheds, some states ask about the purpose of building or buying one. If you plan on using your shed for business-related matters or residential space, you will need to contact the local zoning department to check the structure and be permitted.


  1. Weather Conditions

States that experienced frequent hurricanes and tornadoes require sheds or any storage buildings to be anchored to the ground to withstand the strong storms and winds. Meanwhile, states that experience below-freezing temperatures will require you to obtain a permit to build your shed’s foundations.


  1. Homeowners Association

If you reside in an HOA-regulated home, you might need to consult and check whether your HOA has local regulations regarding outdoor structures. Also, make sure that you have verified the important community rules and covenants.

Always keep in mind that building and zoning permit requirements depend on your location. Make sure to always verify your city’s or county’s requirements before building a backyard shed. You can also call a professional to help you with the permit application process and give you advice that can make your project less time-consuming and fussy.


Common Shed Sizes for Your Backyard

As we move to a bigger home and outgrow the space we once had, we tend to look for bigger storage for our growing home equipment, materials, crafts, and others. The first step in building or buying a backyard shed is to know the best size for you, your backyard space, and its purpose.

Here are three common shed sizes for your backyard:

  • 10′ x 12′ or 8′ x12′

A small backyard shed is ideal if you have limited space and only need to store light gardening and work equipment. If you are just looking for a small space to store your flower pots, tools, lawn and gardening supplies, push mower, and other equipment, this is the perfect size for you.

  • 10′ x 16′ or 8′ 16′

This shed size is ideal for a residence with enough space and a lot of materials and equipment to store. It is also called the typical East Coast homeowners’ best size. You can store large-sized gardening and yard tools, snow blowers, riding mowers, grillers, kitchen and home appliances, and other items of this size in there.

  • 12′ x 20′  or 12′ x 24′

This shed is ideal for a backyard with massive space and a lot of large and heavy equipment to store. You can store your home and kitchen’s extra appliances, yard games and tools, bicycles, ATVs, and other materials that are seldom used in your household. You can also use this type of shed to store crafts that are valuable to you.

It is important to consider the size of your backyard when buying or building a shed and the capacity it will hold. Make sure to choose the right size of shed based on the materials or equipment you’ll be storing in it.


Tips for Your Backyard Shed’s Placement

After planning and obtaining the permits needed for building a backyard shed, the next question is, where will you place your shed? If you are wondering this, don’t worry, we give you some helpful tips below.


  1. What Do You Plan to Use It For?

To determine the best location for your backyard shed, consider what you plan to use it for. If you want one to store your gardening and yard tools, supplies, seasonal decorations, camping items, sports gear, and other regularly used items, place it close to your house. Avoid placing your backyard shed at the farthest corner of your property.

If you plan on using it as a garden shed, keep it close to your garden and water source. If you’re storing a lawnmower, make sure you have a ramp and wide door so that you can transport the mower without any hassle.

It is a lot of effort to walk back and forth to your shed if you are placing it far away from where you will use it. Also, if you plan on doing your work inside the shed, place it where natural light shuns and enters the windows and doors of your shed. Avoid placing your shed under a tree for it will block the light and wind from entering your shed.


  1. Check Your Area

Here are three things you need to check in your area before building a backyard shed:

  • Unleveled ground

When building a backyard shed, look for a flat area in your backyard. A flat surface where you can place your shed will help the doors open. If you don’t have flat or level ground, make sure to position your shed properly to avoid slope problems.

  • Moist Area

Avoid placing your backyard shed in an area where water usually pools or stagnates. Your backyard shed will not last a long time if you place it in a wet area. Also, whenever possible, avoid building a shed at the bottom of a hill or in a low-lying area that receives water. The moisture caused by this condition can damage your shed’s material, paint, and cause mold, mildew build-up, or worse to the items you have stored inside.

  • Low Branches

Look for an open area in your backyard where you could build your shed. If possible, avoid placing it under a tree for the branches can damage and scrape the roof. Putting your shed under a tree can also block natural light from passing through the windows, making it hard for you to look for things, especially if your shed doesn’t have electricity.


  1. Know Your Limitations

Once you’ve acquired the permits to build a backyard shed, there are some limitations you can’t miss, including the following.

  • How close should your shed be to your house?

If your backyard shed doesn’t have power and water supply, it should be at least 40 feet away from any other structure, including your home. This is a safe distance if you’re storing flammables such as propane tanks, fuel, and chemicals. You can also ask for help from your insurance company or the municipality to put your shed in place.

  • How far should your shed be from your fence?

The distance between your shed and fence is stated in the permit you will obtain, so check the restrictions if there are any. However, there are two things you need to keep in mind when placing your shed near your fence. First, make sure you can open the door fully, and second, know whether your neighbors would mind the closeness of the shed.

  • How far should the shed be from the property line?

Generally, you can’t build a backyard shed within 10 feet from the rear property line and 15 feet from the side property line. Thus, make sure there’s enough space between your neighbors’ yard and your shed. If you’re unsure, check your permit or consult your local zoning department.



Backyard sheds are of great help to store valuable equipment and materials that we use in daily business. Just keep in mind, before building a shed, to visit and check your local zoning department regarding your need to obtain a permit. Also, consider your backyard space before building and buying a shed. It is better to be well prepared and have all the information you need than be neglectful.

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