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Shed Started, Issues with Zoning

9770 Views 17 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Rock8Reno
Tore down a 7x12 shed which had carpenter ant damage, installed a R/R tie retaining wall foundation for drainage and to level out the ground.

Previous shed was 2ft from property lines, I went ahead and made rear clearance 4'6", side 4', the new shed size is 10x16, the foundation is 11x17.

I had no idea I would need a permit until a friend of mind mentioned it.

After framing out the shed, I stopped and proceeded to get a permit and do it right. I figured the height would be an issue, 11'6" at the roofs peak. But I didn't even get passed the zoning officer.

They're trying to tell me distance from rear needs to be 5', and left side, 10'. I obviously can't move the foundation, there are other trees/shrubs in the way as well as a pre existing r/r retaining wall.

So what would you do in this situation? Off the record the woman at the building dept told me, as long as my neighbors don;t e ver file a complaint about the shed, they'll never com looking for me/the shed

I plan on keeping everything as it is, but lowering the peak height to 10', a full 1 1/2' lower. I think it would significantly make the structure seem less noticeable.

Just not sure how to go about cutting my 7'6" header height down to 6'6 without disassembling the whole thing. Or if it's even possible. I'm having a contractor come look at it tonight to get his take on it.
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Looks like you're almost done with it. Have neighbors complained? Have inspector's showed up?
Looks like you're almost done with it. Have neighbors complained? Have inspector's showed up?
Only 3 neighbors who can actually see it are directly behind it and to the left side. The neighbor on the left is an older gentleman and is very friendly with me, he's ok. I got the blessing of my neighbor directly behind me, the one to the rear left diagonally I have yet to talk to. No, inspector has not shown up, doubt he will either, you can barely see it from the front of the house. here are some pics of the views from the front, side and rear of the house on the next street over.

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So, I figure if I lower it by a foot I should be ion good shape.
You look like you'll be ok until the assessor shows up. He might notice the difference and the lack of permit. You may get fined then...
Not knowing for certain, but it is my understanding and I may be wrong, but, if the structure has no permanent foundation, as yours does not, and its not connected to the house, then why would it need a permit, as it would be classified as a temporary or movable structure. Just like all the other sheds in your photos.

Just like all the other sheds in your photos.
They might have been built without a permit as well. I don't think the fine will happen, but don't be totally surprised if it does.

The setbacks are required for fire breaks and access. The shed is combustible and if on fire will "lick" flames on the adjacent property. If they have a shed/home/tree close, it will burn, then if it's close to another it will and on and on.

Structures within the setbacks are usually required to have some kind of fire rating to them for this reason.
Not knowing for curtain, but it is my understanding and I may be wrong, but, if the structure has no permanent foundation, as yours does not, and its not connected to the house, then why would it need a permit, as it would be classified as a temporary or movable structure. Just like all the other sheds in your photos.

Not sure about his region, but where I live, a permit is required for any structure that is either attached to your house, has a permanent foundation/floor (garage) or if it is larger than 107 square feet (so a 8x12 shed requires no permit, but a 9x12 and larger does). They say this is because once it's over 107 square feet, it is not deemed "easily movable" if the city ever needed access to the ground below for lines, etc.

I'm surprised by the 10 feet required from the side property (even for a fire hazard). I can see it if it's for a right of way for city access to power lines, cables, etc. When I built my garage, I had to stay 10 feet off the back property line because that's the right of way for the block's gas lines, power lines and cable/telephone lines.
I realize that things are different all over. In my area, a structure that is not on a permanent foundation, does not require a zoning permit and is not subject to setback regulations. A structure not used as a dwelling and not normally occupied that is less than 1000 square feet does not require a building permit. The assessor that comes around will look at a previous description that might show a shed on the property that still exists. If the previous shed was classed as non-permanent, it may not even be on the assessment. I wouldn't worry about it. It's a repair to a previously existing structure. :wink:
Only thing is, is it may require permit based on city building regulations for home/town expansion.

Because of people building "sheds" in backyards and moving people in, etc. etc. "Just build a shed" is something a lot of county's, cities, and even state legislature are looking into.

That said, technically, if it does not have a concrete/cement foundation, it's not a permanent structure. And as long as it's not connected to the house, (in my area it's within 5 feet of the house) it's not an extension.

reason behing why it's an issue, is because by law, a house can only be sized to the lot it's planted on. (which is determined by the city, and affirmed by the state legislature) For example if your lot is zoned as a R27, then your house can be no larger than 1200 square feet. Building a permanent foundation and attatching to the house, it being permanent foundation, makes it a permanent structure, which 9 out of 10 times depending on distance to the house, can be counted as added square feet to the house itself.

So you can make a 1200 square foot home legally 1300 square foot home just by building a 10 X 10 foot shed. Which legally puts you 100 feet larger than your lot is legally able to have. It's why if people lose property, and their house burns down, the new house built will be smaller than the last, simply because the lot isn't large enough to legally allow the same size of house.

That's why it's always best to consult the city/county/state/home owners to ensure a project is fine prior to building.

That said, good job on the shed. It's looking good so far.
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When I was at my previous house, I had researched typical shed requirements where I could find them on the web. It seemed that a common requirement was that a permit is required if a shed is over some square footage threshold - 100 square feet seemed common. In my current locale 200 square feet is the point where a permit is required. For reference, my setback requirement is 5'. And for a shed of size requiring a permit, a foundation is required. Another requirement for any outbuildings is that it cannot have a combination of utilities that could make it inhabitable.
I appreciate all the info, insight and recommendations. Like was said, I could say I just repaired carpenter ant damage and the shed existed already when I loved in 10 years ago. They have NO RECORD of the previous shed because the previous shed I knocked down was less than 2 feet from rear and side property lines. I could barely fit between the fence and the shed, so I know for sure it wasn't legal.

I could deal with a one time fee, if that's what it amounts to. If mine is not legal due to zoning, then so are the other 6-8 sheds in my neighborhood I counted last night.
By the way, that is a beautiful yard you have, somewhat time consuming I would imagine.

I appreciate that, the yard hasn't been touched much, some overgrown bushes/tress were pulled out, it used to look a lot nicer.

Once the shed is complete, I'm having new vinyl shakes/siding done, as well as new soffits, gutter and fascia, stone veneer on the lower half, new front entrance door and surround..etc, then I'll concentrate on fixings up some of the rougher looking things in the yard front and back.

I guess it helps when your family owns a landscape supply company.
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What the grounds at my house look like when I keep up with it better than I have this summer.

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when I lived in NJ ( Union County) my town required a permit for sheds as well. I seem to remember the main requirement was it was set back at least 5' from all property lines.

More than likely it will be a non-issue, but if they do come knocking on your door I'd be willing to bet that you'll get so many days to correct the problem and get a permit, after which time there will be a fine that will be charged for each day you are in violation
At that point I would have to apply for a variance and hope it goes through, which I'm pretty confident it would. Just don't have 2 months to wait to apply for one right now, and don't feel like spending $1,000+ if I don't have to.
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