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Do I Need a Permit for a Shed? | Building Permits for Sheds

Updated: Mar 20

Do I Need a Permit for a Shed? 

Frankly, this question can look a little daunting if you haven’t gone in recently to get a permit.

Permits come from local governments, of course, and most of us are about as eager to tangle with the government as we are to get an appendectomy. So going in to the county offices to ask for a permit can look like a daunting mess of red tape.

But we have helped thousands of clients over the last 40+ years navigate the permit maze, and it really isn’t as bad as it may sound. Now it’s true that we occasionally run into a permitting issue that gets difficult. But most times, it’s pretty straight-forward to get a permit for a shed.

Here’s a bit of info to speed you on your way.

It may look like a lot of red tape, but shed permits in Virginia usually aren’t much of a problem.

Skim this post

  1. Building Permits for Sheds: The Good News! (You may not need one.)

  2. Building Permit Requirements

  3. Virginia Zoning Permits

  4. Can you just skip the whole thing?

  5. HOA Caution

  6. We can help you!

Building Permits for Sheds: The Good News

In Virginia, you generally do not need a building permit for any shed that is less than 256 sq. feet. That means that you can have a shed that is up to 12×20, or 14×18.  In these cases, you don’t need to visit the government offices for a permit. Now that’s good news! The vast majority of our sheds are under 256 sq. ft, although we do custom-design many sheds that are considerably larger than this, as well.

Building Permit Requirements for Sheds

There are a few times when you may need a permit for a shed.

  1. If you are wanting to wire for electricity, you will probably need a permit. Here at Ulrich Lifestyle, we hire a licensed electrician to wire our buildings. If you want to wire your building yourself, you may be able to do that, but it will need to be inspected. At any rate, if you want to run electrical service to and in your building, call your friendly local county or city office and have a chat with them.

  2. Even if you are under 256 sq. feet, it is good to check with your local county or city offices. There are some locations in Virginia that have stiffer requirements than the Commonwealth does.

  3. And obviously, if you are over 256 square feet, you will need a permit. So all buildings 14×20 and over (our largest portable prefab buildings are 14×36) will need a permit.

Zoning Permits in Virginia

Even though you may not need a building permit, you may still need a zoning permit. A zoning permit basically tells you where you may or may not set your shed. This is based on the zone your home is in, eg. R-1, R-3, and so on. Typically, for example, you need to be 5-15 feet away from your property line. This is called setbacks–you have to be “set back” a certain distance from your property lines.

How do you find out? Here’s the magic formula: Google. Try something like “Rockingham County setbacks” or “Rockingham County zoning office,” and if Google is having a good day, you may just find what you are looking for. Otherwise, simply go to your local county or city office (online or on foot) and ask about requirements.

Shed Permit Jeapordy

 So . . . can you skip the whole permitting process, roll the dice, and hope your luck holds out? Well, yes, you can. Your shed company will sell you a shed and put it where you tell them. But to be frank, I’ve heard too many stories about people who have gotten burned. For example, one shed we delivered got a neighbor unhappy. They called Big Brother, and the inspector came down to investigate. Come to find out, the shed was 6 inches (yes, you read right — SIX inches) too close to the property line. The delivery guys had to come back out and move the shed. Really, it’s cheaper to check it out beforehand.

So the answer to “Do I need a building permit for a shed” will vary from one location to another. But from our experience delivering thousands of sheds across Virginia and West Virginia, it is to your advantage to do a bit of permit homework.

HOA: Caution!

A final caution: if you are living in an HOA-regulated home, then do check the regulations. There are all kinds of horror stories of people who had to repaint, reroof, or remove a shed because the HOA wagged their finger at the storage building.

So do a bit of homework. It will make the entire process much more pleasant.

Prefab Building Permits: We can help you.

If this is still looking a little daunting, we can help you. Our Design Consultants have years of experience in helping clients get a shed into the backyard. They can help you take care of your permit, if you are one of those who actually needs a permit for a shed. When requested, we have occasionally even pulled permits for clients for a small fee. And of course, we can answer questions, since we’ve covered this territory many, many times before.

If you would like to speak with us about getting a permit for a shed, or to find out whether a shed we offer needs one, just contact us, and we’ll be in touch with you.

Do you need more specific information on getting a permit for a shed? We have shed permit articles for the following locations:

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