I live in a rural area. Very rural. There is a county building inspector,
and permits are required for new construction on structures for human
Where is the line that separates outbuildings, sheds, pole barns and such
from dwellings? When does it become an issue to go and get a permit? When
you have a foundation? When you add electric or plumbing? I want to make a
pole barn, and to cover some work areas. I know this will vary greatly from
location to location, but are there any standard rules that apply across the
I know the local inspector, and will speak to him. Just wanted to ask here
in advance to get some input. I want to tapdance inside the lines and avoid
things getting complicated.
In my area, it is the size of the outbuilding which determines if a permit
is required or not. Basically a "shed" does not. Larger does. Then pretty
much any new electrical work, etc.
The general idea is any work done which could cause injury to people if not
done right or could cause loss of property due to fire, flood, etc.
Is that beam the right size to support the structure even during a high
Is that electrical work done in a safe manner so no one in your family will
Is that plumbing done right so methane gas from the sewer does not vent to
the inside of the house?
It is a good idea to get a building permit even if one is not required. Then
you get an expert double checking your work for safety. And the fee is not
too much as it would be to hire such an expert.
"SteveB" wrote in message
In my area, the square footage of the structure determines whether you
need a permit. In another area it was whether or not the building had
a foundation. A shed sitting on blocks was considered temporary - on
poured concrete it was permanent.
It's probably different everywhere. The people at the planning office
are usually very helpful.
In my area, any building or fence requires a permit. There are setbacks
for all. When I installed a pool, the setback for the fence was 6", now
it is 3'.
A shed less than 12' x 16' has to be at least 10' from the prop line.
Anything larger has to be 30' from the line.
I'm just relaying what the building department told me...
Obviously, you could build the pole barn for "agricultural" purposes, and
park your vehicles in the "barn" after it's built. Just be aware the permit
requirement may be based on the "intended" use.
We built a small house with two bedrooms and a home office. It even says so
on our plans. But to the building department (and taxes) it's a three
bedroom house. Even though there's no closet of any kind in the third
"bedroom". Though obviously, we could move out the desk and put a bed in
there at a future date.
So, your building department may view things differently than you do...
After looking through all the county building ordinances online, there is an
"recreational" structures. Since the purpose of one of these structures
will be for astronomy and ornithology, it may slide through the loophole. I
may even put one side of it for climbing that the kids like to do. But,
yes, I will check with the local inspector. He's handling our addition
right now, and has been very helpful. He's retiring from county wide in a
couple of weeks, and then will only do our little town. He'll be more than
able to steer me clearly through this.
I have found that if you want to "tapdance inside the lines" then it's best
to not even ask. Just do it. BUT you have to be very aware of traffic on
your road, visibility of the project, where the county employees live, (do
they drive past your place everyday) etc etc.
AT worst, they usually will just stop the work until a permit is obtained,
and charge you twice what the normal would be. But, your area may be
the wisdom is that someone has already built what your intended
eventual use is, and when you update it to local building code
revisions for the latest safety and usage requirements to match your
dirt you will be amazed how smart and helpful the permit office can be
is when you part with your permit fee. mistakes without a permit can
be expensive in many ways. and the experience of a local architect
would give you the evolving design for your long range plans while he
saves you money on economical local climate designs and contractors.
if your "garage floor" is what you think you're building up from,
instead go see:
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