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  • Jeremy Horning

Do I Need a Permit to Build a Shed in Texas?

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

Building a shed on your property is a great option to create more storage space, add an extra room, or provide a play space for your kids. However, the process involves more than purchasing the materials and getting your construction project underway.


There are zoning restrictions to navigate, property lines, Homeowners Association (HOA) guidelines, and a range of other potential issues before building can start. A building permit might also be a requirement.

This guide will help ensure your shed-building project gets underway without any hassles.


What is a Shed Building Permit?


A building or shed permit gives a homeowner official permission to build on their property.

To find out if you need a permit for your shed, contact city officials in your local county. The local building department will be able to give advice and a definitive answer regarding local zoning restrictions, the need for a shed permit, and other regulations.


Do You Need a Building Permit for a Shed in Texas?

You may not need official permission to build your shed. The regulations that apply to the construction of outdoor buildings vary from state to state. In this post, we’ll concentrate on the rules in Texas.

Laws in Texas are strict concerning licenses, permits, and the local building code. Which makes it all the more critical you follow them.


You won’t need a permit for a storage shed of less than 200 square feet not used for business, work, or as a living space in Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Houston, or Austin.

That being said, various other factors will determine whether a permit needs to be obtained.

They include:

  • Size and height: Usually, building permits are not required to build a small shed, less than 200 square feet and 15 feet high, in Texas.

  • Location: Where the shed will be located is an important factor and covers the shed’s proximity to other structures, among other restrictions.

  • Local building code: Code requirements vary depending on multiple factors. For example, an area prone to flooding or heavy rainfall may require a specific type of building compared to another that enjoys sunnier weather.

  • Weather conditions: A location that’s prone to severe weather events, such as tornados or hurricanes, could require anchoring the structure to the ground with specific types of foundations.

  • Setback stipulations: How close you plan to build your shed to your property line, home, or other structures close by may influence requirements.

  • Utility, electrical, and other modifications: A permit and other approvals (discussed later) may be required if you plan on running electricity or other utilities to the shed.

  • Intended use: You may need to apply for a building permit if you plan to use your shed as a business, living space, or home office rather than just a storage shed.

  • HOA: If your home is part of a Homeowners Association, you should inform them of any changes you want to make to your property. Each HOA has its set of rules and regulations.

  • Type of foundations: Some locations have restrictions on the type of foundation you can use when building a shed.

How to Get Shed Building Permits in Texas?


Getting a shed permit is a relatively simple process if you make sure you have everything needed when you make your application.


You could approach a shed-building company such as Urban Sheds to get help with your application. They are familiar with local laws, zoning codes, local and international building code requirements, and how to apply for a shed permit.

If you want to complete the process yourself, here are the steps to follow.


Gather Your Paperwork

Various documentation needs to be presented along with your construction permit application. For example, you’ll need the following:

  • Detailed construction plan

  • Information relating to the wiring and plumbing

  • The estimated value of your shed

  • How much labor is required in the construction

  • All construction costs

  • A floor and elevation plan

  • Cross-section of beam and walls

  • Shed description

  • Location of any easements, driveway, and drainage patterns

Contact Your Local Zoning Department and Planning Department


Individual cities tend to have an online portal where you can make your application and pay for the permit. Here are some links for planning departments in a few of the major cities:

It will help ease the process if you find out your city zoning department's requirements before submitting your application. See if anyone in your area has experience with local zoning and building codes. You might be able to approach them for guidance about your new shed.


Also, if you’re unhappy with the requirements, there may be an option to challenge local zoning restrictions. However, you'll need professional advice and guidance on the relevant laws and local codes.


Complete Your Application


You must complete the application and return it to the planning department with copies of the necessary documentation.


Pay the Required Permit Fee


A fee has to be paid (details below) and an appointment made for an official to visit your property and inspect the proposed construction site.


Be Available for the Inspection


Ensure you have all the necessary documentation prepared and available to facilitate a smooth application process. This is just in case the inspector has some questions. The inspection process varies depending on the state, county, city, or town. Bear in mind that more than one inspection may be required.


Wait for the Decision


After completing the paperwork and the site has been inspected, it’s just a case of waiting for the department’s decision. You may have to call the city officials or use the department’s online portal.

As soon as you receive the thumbs up, you can start your shed construction project, knowing that everything is legitimate and you won't get into trouble.


What Happens if Your Application Fails?


Your shed could fail to pass one of the inspections. In this case, your permit will be invalid. It’s also possible that the jurisdiction decides to impose a penalty.


How Long Does it Take to Get a Shed Permit in Texas?


The time it takes to get a shed building permit in Texas depends on how complex your shed construction project is. Generally, you can expect it to take a week to a couple of months.

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of a permit also depends on the size of your shed building project and where you live.

The standard building permit cost ranges from $50 to $145. In addition, there may be ancillary fees you have to pay. Any separate fee needed, and how much, depends on your location.


One example of an ancillary charge is if you plan to build a shed that’s close to your septic tank. Local health authority approval may be needed. If so, the cost might be several hundred dollars.


Can You Build a Shed Without Planning Permission?


Yes. You can build a shed or other detached structure without planning permission, but it’s risky. Permits are there to protect your neighbors and yourself.


In Texas, How Tall Can a Shed be Without a Permit?


A building permit is not needed if your shed is no more than one story, 15 feet tall, and has a maximum floor space of 200 square feet.


How Big a Shed Can You Build Without a Permit?

What is allowed when building a shed without a building permit varies from one location to another. Here are some examples:


Dallas


Chapter 52, Section 301(b) of the Dallas City Code (Dallas Building Code) states that no building permit is needed for utility buildings with a floor area of less than 200 square feet, without utilities.


San Antonio


According to the San Antonio government, one-story detached accessory structures not exceeding a floor area of 300 square feet used as storage sheds, playhouses, etc., require no building permit.


Forth Worth


According to the Fort Worth Development Services, all storage sheds need a permit. In addition, there are zoning requirements associated with the storage shed's location, maximum height, and square footage, depending on the property lot size. More information can be found in Chapter 5 Supplemental Use Standards, Article 5.301 of the Zoning Ordinance.


Houston


In Houston, non-commercial accessory structures (e.g., storage sheds) are exempt and do not need a permit unless bigger than 200 square feet.


Austin


In Austin, you can build a shed without worrying about a permit as long as it is less than 15 feet tall, only one story, and no more than 200 square feet.


What Happens if You Build a Shed Without a Building Permit in Texas?


If you decide to go ahead with your shed without a building permit, you run the risk of the following:

  • Paying a sizable fine upward of $50,000

  • Jail time as part of your penalty

  • Complaints from neighbors

  • Penalties imposed by your Homeowner’s Association

  • A lien on your property

  • Structural failure

  • Being forced to reconstruct or move the shed to comply with regulations

Don’t forget you can apply for a retroactive shed permit if needed.


Zoning Rules & Utility Permits


There will be zoning regulations to follow regardless of whether or not you need a permit for your new shed. The following are a few examples.


Setbacks


A setback is a space between your lot's border and the area where you can put a building. Usually, you can’t construct anything on a setback. Setbacks also vary depending on the type of zoning in your location.

As a guideline, if a shed is less than 15 feet tall, it must be 5 feet from the side and rear property lines. If more than 15 feet tall, it must be 10 feet from the rear property line and 5 feet from the side property line. There should also be a 25-foot setback from the front line.


Easements


Easements are areas of a property that can be used, built on, or changed by a government department or neighbor. You’re not allowed to build structures on any easements. If you build a storage shed on an easement, you may incur a fine or be asked to demolish it.


Electrical Permit


If your shed includes electrical wiring, you need an electrical permit. Will the electricity supply to your shed require changes to the main electrical meter? In such cases, only a registered electrician can obtain the necessary permission.


Tree Permit


Are there trees on the property? Then, you may need a tree permit. Your project will need to be reviewed by a city arborist if any trees on your property are more than 19 inches in diameter.


Impervious Covers


These include structures such as driveways, rooftops, parking lots, and other non-natural surfaces that prevent water from draining away into the ground. Impervious cover restrictions help prevent flooding during and after heavy rains.

In a floodplain, the impervious cover must not exceed 10% of your property; otherwise, it must not exceed 45%.


Conclusion


Many rules and regulations apply to how and where a shed can be constructed. Get it wrong, and you risk paying a fine and being forced to demolish your shed.

However, hire a professional company like Urban Sheds to help with your shed project to ensure everything is done in accordance with the law.


Our mission is to help build your dream shed, and we have years of experience to ensure it complies with local building and zoning laws.

You stay in control of the design thanks to our easy-to-use 3D Shed Configurator. Our local experienced, freelance contractor will work with you on the shed construction.


FAQs


What size shed requires a permit in Texas?


You need a permit if your shed exceeds 200 square feet or two stories.

How close to the property line can I build a shed in Texas?


Sheds less than 15 feet tall must be five feet from the side and rear property lines. Sheds more than 15 feet tall must be 10 feet from the rear property line and 5 feet from the side property line. A 25-foot setback also applies to the front property line. Check with your local city zoning department for exact details in your area.


Does a shed increase property tax in Texas?


Sheds tend not to add much financial value to a home, which means that, in most cases, they won’t affect property taxes either.


How long do building permits last in Texas?


Generally, a building permit is valid for 180 days. The building permit will expire if no work has started in this period.


Do I need a permit to build a shed in Harris County?


Not if your shed has a floor area of less than 150 square feet and will be used for the temporary storage of materials or equipment; otherwise, you will need a permit.


How big of a shed can I build without a permit in Texas?


The biggest shed you can build without a permit is one with a maximum floor area of 200 square feet and a maximum height of 15 feet.

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Jeremy Horning has a passion for efficient and smooth running systems. He values beauty and  craftsmanship. When he’s not too busy building business, you’ll find him on the job constructing sheds or resurfacing hardwood decks.

After moving to Medford Ma. in 2014 he was a co-founder of  Alpha Omega Property Services, a handyman business, out of which he started Boston Hardwood Decks and Urban Sheds.

Jeremy started Urban Sheds in 2017 with the vision of connecting local craftsmen and homeowners around great shed designs, sustainable production and straightforward purchasing.​

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