What Happens If You Build a Shed Without a Permit

What Happens If You Build a Shed Without a Permit

Many of us live in homes with smaller or no garages at all. And storage of most items like gardening tools or automotive parts can be hard.

Well, after several years of planning, you decide to put up a shed to keep all your items safe. You have bought materials, prepared the ground for the foundation, and estimated the labor costs. But there is one crucial thing that is missing, the permit.

What happens if you build a shed without a permit? You may face many consequences if you try to build a shed without a permit. The worst is getting into jail.

Every state, province, or municipality has its requirements and regulations to be met when putting up structures. As such, factors like plumbing, electrification, foundation type, and the shed size may be considered when obtaining a building permit.

When Do You Need to Get a Shed Permit

In some states, smaller size sheds may not require a permit. But several other factors will require you to have a permit. Take a look;

  • When the shed is larger than 8×3 or 100 square feet.
  • It’s the second shed in your homestead.
  • You need to include electrical, plumbing, and other mechanical parts in the shed.
  • Use the shed as a living room.
  • You want to run a business in the shed.
  • If the environment you are putting it up in is sensitive.

What Happens If You Build a Shed Without a Permit

You may face several consequences if you try to take a shortcut in building your shed. Some consequences are;

  • Government fines
  • Serving in jail
  • Liens
  • Homeowners Association Penalties
  • Quarrels with neighbors
  • Reconstruction costs
  • Human life threats and items losses
  • Problem ensuring the shed

1. Government Fines

You may be slapped with a fine of $50000 for the first offense and $100000 for the second offense.

For instance, in Pollard, you may be charged around $500 to $2500 per day if you build a shed without a permit.

And if you fail to take action after receiving a notification, charges may be increased daily, leading to heavy fines.

2. Serving in Jail

Municipalities include jail as an option if one fails to pay the penalties. For instance, in Buffalo, New York, you will be charged $1500 or serve 15 days in jail.

For many parents who are breadwinners, it can be two weeks of struggle and the worst troubles for your family.

3. Liens

Lien on the shed means the authorities can own or get into co-ownership with you if you fail to pay the penalties.

If you built without a permit, notified to stop constructing via mail but failed to take action, you risk getting a lien. At times, people delete the notification document or ignore it.

The good news is that the lien can be removed once you pay the charges. But if you fail to pay the penalties, your shed is sold by the authorities in some instances.

Further, the authorities may hinder you from renting or selling it without settling the penalties.

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4. Home Owners Association Penalties

You will find independent organizations known as Home Owners Associations in many areas.

They impose rules on the neighborhood whereby they set a particular height of structures around. They also set the minimum distances structures should stand from each other.

However, the charges and the building requirements depend on your local HOA.

5. Quarrels with Neighbours

If you decide to build a shed, the municipality will send an inspector to view if it can obstruct the neighboring views.

In a densely populated residential area, you may later have trouble with the neighbors, quarreling for blocking their morning or evening sun—also, the wind.

Although they may not report you to the authorities, it may create an uncomfortable atmosphere if you don’t live peacefully with the neighbors.

6. Reconstruction Costs

Putting up a shed without a permit may lead to penalties or jail. Later, the authorities may instruct you to reconstruct the shed if it doesn’t meet the standards.

If that happens, you may spend more than the estimated budget. Additionally, you may have to prepare the paperwork and follow the permit obtaining process, which is time-consuming.

See also: How do you calculate the cost of building a shed?

7. Human Life Threat and Items Losses

A substandard shed may risk human life in times of wind or rain. If the foundation is unstable or set in the wrong location in the yard, it can collapse and risk people’s lives.

On the other hand, you may lose valuable items stored in the shed. Losses may come in terms of damage or theft due to exposure.

See also: How do you anchor down a shed to pavers?

8. Problem Insuring the Shed

Most insurance companies will request the structure plan, the permits, and the material quality used to construct before insuring the building.

As that’s the case, you may face problems when insuring the shed and the items you store inside.

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See also: How close can I shed be to the property line?

The Process of Applying for the Permit

Step 1: Gather the paperwork

You need to have documents with the following information;

  • Land and shed dimensions
  • Distances from other structures
  • Drainage and sewerage positions from the shed.
  • Foundation plans
  • Plumbing and electrical wiring diagrams.
  • The lot value and the labor costs
  • The flooring and roofing plan. Etc

Step 2: Contact the local zoning and planning offices

They have an online portal that makes it easy to reach out to them in most countries. Fill in the application forms, pay the fees, and schedule an appointment with the inspector.

Step 3: Assist During Inspection

Clear the area and keep pets and children away for some hours to ease the process. Also, avail yourself to answer the inspector’s questions.

Step 4: Wait for the Response

After the inspection, you will get a response from the office. You can then proceed with the construction.

See also: Can you lift and move a shed?

FAQs About What Happens if you Build a Shed Without Permit

What is the Biggest Size Shed Without Planning Permission?

100 square feet shed is the maximum size you can build without a permit. If it exceeds the size, you will have to apply for the shed permit.

Can I Build a Shed Next to My Neighbours Fence?

In most states, you must build at least 5 to 15 feet from the fence.

Can I Build a Shed on the Boundary?

Leave a distance of at least 5 feet or get written approval from your neighbor.

So, what happens if you build a shed without a permit? You risk facing the above consequences. Always obtain legal documents before building your shed.


  • Ricky

    Hi, I’m Ricky. I’ve been involved in lawn care and landscaping from when I was 15. To be honest, I didn’t like the idea of pushing mowers, collecting grass clippings, and maintaining flowerbeds at the time. But having seem the passion my parents had for gardening and outdoors and the effort they put in maintaining the health and beauty of our landscape, I couldn’t help but not only admire their hard work but also I became a part of it. As someone who loves to spend time with nature’s best, I find myself learning a lot more about gardening and outdoors on a daily basis. Not to mention I love to share the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years with my readers at We Mow Dallas. To be clear, I don’t have a Master’s degree in gardening or anything like that. Everything I’ve learned about gardening, landscaping, and lawn care spring from passion and engagement with my parents. And with a ton of free information out there, plus the ability to run tests and determine what works best for lawn care and landscaping, every day is an opportunity to learn and implement something new. My goal with We Mow Dallas is to teach you exactly how to maintain your lawn and landscape. And since I walk the talk in reality, you shouldn’t hesitate to join me in this wonderful world of landscaping and lawn care.

    bwambugi@gmail.com K Beatrice

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