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Do You Require a Building Permit For a Storage Shed?

Do You Require a Building Permit

Knowing if you need a building permit especially if your planning on installing a storage shed whether you’re going to buy a pre-built shed and put it in your backyard or if you’re going to build a shed yourself. If you’re building or installing a shed in your yard brings the question… Do I need a building permit?

The answer is “Maybe” and this will depend on the size of the shed and if you’re local bylaws require a building permit. Where I live no building permit is required to install or build a storage shed if it’s less than 100 square feet in size and does not have a permanent foundation.

There are still some requirements as to how close to the property line you can put a shed and there may be other restrictions. It’s always a good idea to go talk to your local building inspector and find out exactly what the bylaws are before you build a storage shed.

Think about this, a building permit gives you peace of mind knowing that the structure is legal and it’s constructed correctly. Much better to have a building permit than to find out later after you’ve spend 1,000s on your new shed only to have to tear it down.

What Requirements Mean You Need a Permit?

The factors that can mean you’ll require a building permit are different for most areas but a good guideline to follow is:

– The size of the storage shed.

– What are you going to be using it for?

– Where is the structure going to be on your property?

– What type of foundation it will have.

– Are you going to be running power to it?

There are other factors and you can read my article “What’s the Best Location For an Outdoor Storage Shed?” where I go over the various factors that will affect your shed, I also go into detail on how to draw a site plan to take with you when you talk to the local building authority, you can read the article here.

So Just What Exactly is a Building Permit?

It’s an official document that your local building inspector’s office gives you that lets you or your building contractor go ahead and build the structure. The whole purpose of the building permit is to make sure the plans and location of the structure follow local requirements. The cost is usually a percentage of the job cost or may be a flat rate.

Ryans Shed Plans

When Do You Have to Have a Building Permit?

Not every project will require a building permit, if you’re just doing some simple repairs to an existing structure than a permit may not be necessary. If you going to add some electrical to an existing structure then you’ll need to get a permit for that work. If you’re using a electrician then they usually take out a permit.

The Process For Getting a Building Permit

– The first step is to talk to someone at your local municipal office or better yet talk to the building inspector. Briefly describe your project and the inspector can let you know if a building permit will be required.

– If a permit is going to be required fill out the application form and also attach a copy of the plans for the structure and include a site plan with setbacks showing the proposed structure on the lot with the distances from the property line and other buildings.


It’s always a good idea to go in person and meet with the building inspector and show him your plans and site plans, the inspector can them give you all the details and setbacks so you can build the structure in the right place.

– Once you’ve completed this process and all the details are worked out you will be issued a building permit.

– Post the building permit near or on the exterior of the structure so it’s in plain view.

– You may need to have inspections done as the construction proceeds, however this is likely not necessary for a storage shed. You will require a final inspection to make sure the structure meets the building code.

– Once the work is completed and the inspector signs off than you can remove the permit. It’s a good idea to keep any permits with your home papers so you can show that the structure is legal and built to code.

What Should You Bring When You Go For The Permit?

– Bring your plans and be sure they include elevations that show the height of the structure.

– Bring your site plan.

– You’ll also want to bring a copy of a current utility bill that has your name and address on it.

– And of course payment for the permit fee. Always pay by cheque that way you’ll have good prove that the permit was taken out.

What Happens if You Don’t Get a Permit?

Many people build sheds without finding out if they need a building permit, while some do get away with it many others don’t. The city can make you tear it down and fine you or they may put a stop work order on the build until you get the required permit.

A shed is going to cost you a few thousand dollars and it’s just not worth taking a chance that you’ll have to tear it down. Take the time to talk to your local authorities before building or putting up a shed, it will save you the headaches and loss after the fact if they make you remove it.

What are Local Bylaws?

The local bylaws and zoning requirements are the rules and regulations that a certain area uses for keeping urban growth and out buildings within the bylaws. Depending on where you live will dictate the rules and regulations for out buildings. There may be fewer bylaws if you line in a rural area, but it always a good idea to check with local authorities before proceeding.

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What Size Structure Will Require a Permit?

Adding a shed to your yard will depend on your zoning laws for the area you live in and there may be size restrictions for your zone. If you’re planning on buying a shed that’s already built you need to check with the building department before you buy the shed. Get more information in my article What’s the Maximum Shed Size Without Permit?

How Long to Get a Building Permit?

You could get the building permit in a week or in some cases it may take 3 weeks to a month. If you fill out the application accurately and include a copy of your shed plans and a site plan that will certainly speed up the process.

Does Taking Out a Building Permit Increase Taxes?

In some cases adding a building to your property can increase the property’s value and taking out a building permit for the structure alerts local building authorities to a possible increase in your property value and may increase your taxes. It also will add value to your home and can be an advantage when you’re ready to sell.

Building Permit Facts

I’ve added a list of 6 things that you may find helpful about building permits, these may not all apply in your area are situation.

Number 1] Be Anonymous… If you are concerned about asking questions about getting a building permit and giving your name, don’t be concerned about it. If you’re just wanting information you don’t have to give your name.

You can call your local building inspectors office and ask questions, you’ll find that the building inspector will be happy to answer any questions regarding the permit process and can go over the bylaws so you can know what you need to do before you start the process.

Number 2] Owner Building Permits… Many homeowners don’t think they can get a building permit and that they have to hire a contractor. This isn’t true many homeowners do their own work and get a permit without having to have a contractor involved.

Being the owner you can build your own structure and save the extra cost of hiring a contractor to do the work. If you’re going to be adding power to your shed I recommend you hire a certified electrician and they have to take out a electrical permit to do the electrical work needed.

Ryans Shed Plans

Number 3] Easements… Find out if your property has any easements before you go and apply for a building permit. Many properties have an easement whether it’s for a buried gas line or power line or even a main sewer line. These easements won’t allow for any structures being built on them and in some cases have set back requirements.

Your local municipal office should have records of easements; as well it should be shown of your certificate of title that you received when you purchased the property. The seller of the property should have told you about it. Either way you may have to take a different approach for building your shed.

Number 4] Property Setbacks… Property setbacks are your local building code bylaws that limit you to build from the property lines, wells, septic systems and other structures. There will likely be setbacks on how far from the front and back of your property that you can build. That’s why it’s important to talk to your local building inspector office so you’ll know exactly where you can construct anything.

Number 5] Variances… Property easements are typically not negotiable you may have some options with property setbacks by applying for a variance. Basically a variance is an allowed exception to the local bylaws which can let you build closer to a property line or build a larger shed then normally permitted.

The building department may consult neighbors if you ask for a variance and if your neighbors are OK with it your likely to get the variance.

Number 6] Inspection Failure… Just because you failed an inspection it’s not the end of the world. The inspector will tell you what you need to fix before you can call for another inspection.

Most building inspectors will answer most of your questions and feel free to ask them for some tips for passing the nest inspection.


I have found that taking the time and getting a building permit is not a difficult process even for a beginner, the biggest hurdle is drawing the site plan and getting some plans for the shed you want to build.

Finding a good set of plans is fairly easy, I’m going to recommend Ryan’s shed plans simple because there are 1000’s to choose from. You can check them out here. If you have found this article helpful, give it a share. Thanks for reading.