Do I Need a Permit to Build a Shed?

The Family Business: New England Outdoor

A high-quality shed makes a great addition to any home—not only will it look awesome in your yard, but it’s the perfect spot to store your summer grilling supplies, fall landscaping tools, winter snow gear, and more.

However, before you start construction, it’s essential to figure out if you need a permit to build a shed and, if so, to obtain the proper documents. Read on to educate yourself on the factors that dictate whether a shed requires a building permit.

Permits on a Town-By-Town Basis

The most important thing to understand about shed permits is that the requirements are set by your town or city. Some DIY websites might say that you don’t need a permit if your shed is under 100 square feet, but that’s not true universally. For instance, in Smithfield, Rhode Island, sheds over 64 square feet must be permitted. On the other hand, in Franklin, Massachusetts, structures under 200 square feet do not need a permit.

As you can see, size requirements can vary significantly from town to town in New England. The bottom line is that you should always check your town’s website or contact the Building and Zoning office to find out location-specific requirements.

Building Factors Regulated by Permits

There are several factors that your building permit will regulate, including your shed’s placement, foundation type, and even purpose.

  • Shed Placement

    Unfortunately, you can’t simply build a shed wherever you’d like. Most towns have rules about how close your shed can be to your property line, other structures, or wetlands. In Franklin, for example, your structure cannot be fewer than 10 feet away from the property line, nor can it be located in a “required front yard.”

  • Foundation Requirements

    Further, many municipalities will regulate whether your structure needs a foundation and how it is anchored down. This is especially important in New England, where strong blizzards or other severe weather have potential to displace your shed.

  • Building Purpose

    If you’re planning to run a business out of your shed, you may need to acquire a special permit or license. Again, check with your town or city before proceeding with construction, as some residential zones prohibit certain types of businesses, according to the S. Small Business Administration.

How to Obtain a Shed Permit

So how do you go about getting a permit to build your shed? Start by contacting your town’s Building and Zoning department. Have the details of your desired structure on hand, and the officials will walk you through any requirements, as well as the application process.