Permit needed for shed interior sqft. or foundation sqft.?

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Forum topic by bigblockyeti posted 02-14-2019 04:48 PM 862 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5975 posts in 2230 days

02-14-2019 04:48 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m only allowed a 14’ x 16’ shed per the HOA rules without qualifying as a detached garage needing a poured slab. That puts me right at a 224sqft. foundation (joists on concrete piers w/ 3/4” subfloor) and the maximum size per the county without needing a permit is 200sqft. I can shave the foundation dimensions down a little to give an interior of 15’2” x 13’2” or 199.69sqft. While asking forgiveness vs. permission would be my approach with the HOA, as neighbors have indicated relative leniency as long as everything looks nice (it will), I don’t want to get into a pissing match with the county for obvious reasons. Pulling a permit adds time (the inspectors are way backlogged), expense and possible long term expense as additional property tax if it’s deemed to have added value by the county assessor. This is splitting hairs on the additional sqft. but I need all I can get and foundation dimensions in multiples of 2’ will be easiest to frame. I have already called and left messages with two different inspectors so asking forgiveness vs. permission is off the table now. Who has experience with sheds in particular as to referencing interior vs. foundation square footage with regards to their municipalities?

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

15 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5986 posts in 3322 days

#1 posted 02-14-2019 06:04 PM

Build it as big as you need within the rules. Get a permit, and put it on a slab. That would be my advise.

Don’t worry about building in 2’ increments. It doesn’t save you as much as you might think.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View recycle1943's profile


3263 posts in 2131 days

#2 posted 02-14-2019 06:18 PM

We bulit in a gated community 20 some years ago and still have property there. The HOA had adopted the building code from the neighboring county along with some HOA restrictions regarding sizes, distances etc.
Our HOA had their own inspectors for electric, plumbing etc. and they all came from professionals that lived within the community.
One stipulation was that a PO could only have one detached outbuilding and that was TOTALLY overcome by building the outbuilding close enough that a breezeway could connect the two structures (the home and the outbuilding) thus not a detached building.
As well, most times when a vaiance was needed the PO wanting to do other than code petitioned the HOA board for a variance. Sometimes it went thru, sometimes not.
The other thing is you are concerned about the ‘shed’ affecting you taxes then perhaps you should scuttle the whole plan. Even on a fixed income a tax increase of $10 or so a year can’t be a hardship, if it is, refer to the beginning of this sentence.
Now, having said all that, I would begin with the HOA, your neighbor isn’t the one to listen to. The HOA can be a real pia but they didn’t force you to locate there.
My apologies if I sound like a whatever but we have zoning and inspections to protect YOU not the guy that lives 20 miles away.

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

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1392 posts in 415 days

#3 posted 02-14-2019 06:27 PM

Make sure to read all the rules too. I had an issue where mine was built too close to a fence, even though size was fine.

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5540 posts in 2860 days

#4 posted 02-14-2019 06:29 PM

Get the permit and build the way you want it. It will be worth it in the long run.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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2243 posts in 2538 days

#5 posted 02-14-2019 06:32 PM

As it was explained to me when I built my shed, forgiveness vs permission doesn’t work with the govt :) If you exceed city/county/state guidelines (unsure about HOA) and get caught, any inspector (could be new guy 1st day on job following the book) could require you to demolish the shed, move the shed, or edit the shed.
I initially had my shed substructure 2 feet from rear garage wall. Code around here is 3’. With the help of a couple hydraulic car lift jacks, I did move it to 3 feet. Cause why take that chance? My luck, I would get that 1st day inspector and kick myself in the butt for not addressing this at first.

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

View bigblockyeti's profile


5975 posts in 2230 days

#6 posted 02-14-2019 06:39 PM

Thanks for the replies so far. I’ve read the set back rules and I’ll add a few inches just to be safe. If I do have to permit based on the “pad” size, I’ll ask the HOA the same question to see if they look at pad size or interior sqft. In the unlikely event they’re different and I can base the shed of the interior footprint, I’ll go oversized and make the interior right at 14’0” x 16’0” just to get that little extra square footage. I’m not doing concrete because, 1) I don’t need it, 2) It starts at $136/yd. here for a full truck (more for ~ 3 yards I’d need) & the truck would tear the crap out of my yard which I don’t want to have to fix. I’m trying to keep costs down as I hope to move to my property ~10 miles away in 5-7 years on which I need to build a house first and want to build a 40’ x 70’ pole barn. I won’t be financing either and keeping the costs of my various projects under control will allow that to happen.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View bigJohninvegas's profile


681 posts in 1971 days

#7 posted 02-14-2019 07:04 PM

All good advice here.
Build what you want, not what you think you can get away with. Do it right, get all you permits and HOA approval.
Getting it wrong will cost you big time in the end. If you get caught doing it wrong
1. The HOA or building inspector may make you tear it down.
2. Make you retro fit to make it up to there codes, or rules.
3. Plus add fines, extra permit fees.
4. And even if you do get away with it all. Good luck selling the property down the road with out the proper permits and HOA permission.

-- John

View DalyArcher's profile


125 posts in 1628 days

#8 posted 02-14-2019 08:03 PM

No experience with HOA here, but formerly being the guy that would enforce the bylaws and permit regulations I will throw in my 2 cents for what its worth.

Every jurisdiction writes their Bylaws and therefore may interpret things differently. For example, we measure setbacks from the furthest extending part of the building (overhang, end of deck, etc), the closest city measures from the finished wall, this can make for a huge difference. We measure square footage (gross floor area) to include any covered area including mezanines or carports, our definition is therefore based upon the exterior measurements of the building and does not take in account the difference in wall thickness some folks choose to exercise.

My advice; err on the side of caution (dont presume measurement is based upon interior only to find out it is based on exterior) or wait for a definitive response from the inspector. assumptions and forgiveness can be expensive.

View BurlyBob's profile


6507 posts in 2775 days

#9 posted 02-14-2019 08:25 PM

I tend to agree with the permit and go as big as you want. 14×16 is just enough space to store you lawn mower and garden tools. Honestly Yeti, I’ve never heard of someone complaining the built their shop to big.

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5975 posts in 2230 days

#10 posted 02-14-2019 08:42 PM

Well the problem is 14’ x 16’ is the max allowed by the HOA before it’s considered a detached garage and the price goes way up after that due to a full poured slab among other things. It’s on the upper end of what I’d want in the backyard anyway as I don’t want it to look obtrusive. A mower, garden tools, misc. storage, kids toys and maybe a dirtbike is all I’m trying to get out of the garage. The first couple that put a contingent offer on this house had already gotten approval for a 24’ x 24’ “shop” and I contacted the contractor about what he quoted them; $20K with no insulation, drywall or HVAC. That’s about half what I’m budgeting for my next shop at 40’ x 70’ which happens later or not at all if I spend too much over the next few years.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View RobHannon's profile


317 posts in 1040 days

#11 posted 02-14-2019 09:04 PM

If this is a shed just to move stuff out of the garage I would look into one of the cheap packages you can get from a big box store. Around here, if there is no permanent foundation and it is below the size cutoff no permit is needed. I know folks, without HOAs, that have 4 or 5 of them in their yard to get around having to pull permits. While I don’t recommend that because it looks horrible, you could get a structure that will last a few years and look good while still staying pretty cheap if you do not need a real floor.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5227 posts in 4470 days

#12 posted 02-14-2019 09:46 PM

I had the same issue in Atlanta.
Came to find out that a “portable” building was accepted without challenge in that it could be move if needed.
Never had a problem. I did all the inside work myself, so cost was for basic building on piers.
Painted and roofed same as home.
Might wanna consider that route.

-- [email protected]

View CaptainKlutz's profile


1891 posts in 2003 days

#13 posted 02-14-2019 10:28 PM

- The HOA limits are useless boilerplate dimensions used as they create buildings too small for most vehicles to use as a garage. All the HOA really wants to avoid is addition of inferior back yard garage(s) that might deflate comparison prices for resale. So ignore the HOA size, and build what you need.

- The differences mentioned above in what points are used for determining the size of your structure are total PIA, and must be known in advance of any construction design. Most inspecting authorities measure from outer most point of walls of building for sq ft determination (I.E. if window trim adds 2”, it can be included). Majority use outer most points of the structure (roof eaves) to determine setback distances. Failure to know the local rules and get them in WRITING in advance of build can cost thousands to fix.

- The definition differences between portable and permanent shed can be HUGE in local building codes:
: Portable shed often do not have set back limitations of permanent versions.
: Portable shed can have power, just have to use a plug/receptacle with permanent disconnect switch at connection point. (50A RV plugs are very useful on portable buildings)
: Permanent sheds have minimum requirements in building codes for footers, pylons, or poured floors. Portable sheds can be built on 4×4 timbers, and moved where every you want.
: Only hassle with portable buildings can be some HOA rules on external appearance needing to match house. This can add cost to put lipstick on pig you buy from BORG or local shed factory.
If you plan to use shed for only couple years, portable versions will often be best route.

+1 build what you need. Building permits are cheap compared to cost of building code violation.
Trying to stay inside the HOA rules, or cheat building codes attempting to build cheap DIY shed often results in shed costing a whole lot more than planned when finally get it done. The couple hundred $ cost difference between a properly made small storage shed and code nightmare hiding in back yard is never worth the trouble. DAHMHIK

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View bigblockyeti's profile


5975 posts in 2230 days

#14 posted 02-15-2019 02:20 AM

When I check the HOA requirements, they specifically disallow portable sheds and they only allow one additional structure beyond the house per lot. I’ve seen a few throughout the neighborhood and they all look very nice, half of them are brick. I want to keep mine nice too as I would rather this add rather than detract value from not only my property but the neighbors as well. I can see easily using the shed for as long as I’m here so I certainly don’t want to throw something up that won’t last. I have seen one or two of the backyard rubbermaid tool lockers that are ~6’h x 5’w x 2’d. and they’re well hidden. I thought about this just to get a few yard tools and the push mower out of the garage for the time being but that’s another $300-$400 that I’ll get maybe $100 back from and the difference could otherwise go into the shed itself. I still haven’t heard back from any of the inspectors I left a voicemail with, hopefully at least one of them will get back to me tomorrow with some answers.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Woodmaster1's profile


1233 posts in 3096 days

#15 posted 02-15-2019 05:47 AM

I built a 30×33 garage because the city only allowed 1000sqft. Detached building. I got the permit $25. Had the inspections all good. The concrete was 1/2 the cost of the building. I put a dormer on the garage creating nice additional space. I also have two sheds 10×12 and 8×12 no hoa do what I want as long as it is not against city or county codes. I feel sorry for people with a HOA they are good in some things but bad in others.

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