• Jeremy Horning

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

Building a shed on your property is a great option, whether you’re looking to create more storage space, add an extra room, or provide a play space for your kids. However, there’s a lot more involved in the process than purchasing the materials and getting your shed construction project underway.


For many people, there are zoning restrictions to navigate, property lines, Homeowners Association (HOA) guidelines, and a range of other permissions. A building permit might also be a requirement.

This guide will help you overcome such hurdles and ensure you get your shed-building project underway as soon as possible.


What is a Shed Building Permit?


A building or shed permit is an official piece of paper that gives homeowners official permission to build on their property.

If you want to know whether you need one for your shed, the best thing to do is contact city officials in your locality. The local building department will be able to give you advice and a definitive answer regarding local zoning restrictions and the need for a shed permit and other regulations that might apply.


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

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


Laws in Texas tend to be rather strict, particularly concerning licenses, permits, and the local building code. Which makes it all the more critical you follow them.


You won’t need a permit if your shed is less than 200 square feet and it will be a storage shed rather than using it for business, work, or as a living space. This applies in Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Houston, and Austin.

That being said, various other factors will determine whether a permit is required.


They include:

  • The location and size of your shed: The size of a shed is the main determining factor as to whether a permit is needed. Usually, it has to be over a specific height or size. Smaller sheds, in the case of Texas, mean less than 200 square feet, and building permits tend not to be required.

  • Location of the shed: Where you’re planning to build your shed is another important factor. Concerns will include the shed’s proximity to other structures, your property’s location, and several other concerns.

  • Local building code standards: Building code standards can also vary depending on certain factors. For example, an area prone to flooding or heavy rainfall may require a specific type of building compared to a location that enjoys sunnier weather.

  • Weather conditions: If you want to build a shed in a location that’s prone to severe weather events such as tornados or hurricanes, anchoring your shed to the ground could be a requirement. Certain types of shed foundations may be required in regions that suffer freezing weather.

  • Set back stipulations: Another factor that makes a difference is how close you plan to build your shed to your property line, home, shed, or other structures close by,

  • Utility, electrical, and other modifications: A permit and other approvals (discussed later) may be a requirement if you’re including electricity, wiring, and different types of utility modifications. However, it does depend on what you’re planning to build inside your shed.

  • Intended use: You may need to apply for a building permit if you’re planning 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 always inform them of any changes you want to make to your property. Each HOA will have its own set of rules and regulations.

  • Type of foundations: In some locations, there are restrictions relating to the type of foundation you’re going to use when building your shed.

How to Get Shed Building Permits in Texas?


Getting a shed permit is a relatively simple process, as long as you make sure you’ve got everything that’s needed when you make your application.


You have the option of approaching a shed-building company, such as Urban Sheds, to get some help with your application. They will be very familiar with local laws and zoning codes, local and international building code, and how to apply for a shed permit.

If you want to complete the process on your own, here are the steps to follow:


Gather Your Paperwork Together

Various documentation needs to be presented along with your shed 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 shed 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 might help ease the process if you find out your city zoning department requirements ahead of making your application. See if there is anyone in your area who has experience with local zoning and building codes. You might be able to approach them for guidance when it comes to your new shed.


Also, if you’re not happy with the requirements, there may be an option to challenge local zoning restrictions. However, when it comes to local laws and local codes, you'll need professional advice and guidance.

Complete Your Application


You have to 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 construction.


Be Available for the Inspection


If you want to smooth the application process, make sure you have all the necessary documentation prepared and available. This is just in case the inspector has some questions. The actual inspection process varies depending on the state, city, county, and town. Bear in mind that the inspection part of the process may have to be completed more than once.


Wait for the Decision


With the paperwork and inspection part of the process out of the way, it’s just a case of waiting for the department’s decision. After some time, you may have to call the city officials or use the department’s online portal.


As soon as you’ve been given the thumbs up, you can start your shed construction project, safe in the knowledge that everything is legitimate and you’re not going to get into trouble.


What Happens if Your Application Fails?


It’s possible that your shed could fail to pass the inspection. 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 length of time it will take for you to get a shed building permit in Texas depends on how complex your shed construction project is. Generally, you can expect it to take anything from one 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 basic building permit cost ranges from $50 to $145. In addition, there may be ancillary fees you have to pay. What these are and how much depends on your location and surroundings.


One example of an ancillary charge is if you’re planning to build a shed that’s close to your septic tank. Local health authority approval may be needed and getting this could cost several hundred dollars.


Can You Build a Shed Without Planning Permission?


Yes, you can build a shed without planning permission, but it’s a risky thing to do. 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 high. It shouldn’t be more than 15 feet tall. In addition, the floor space should be no more than 200 square feet.


How Big a Shed Can You Build Without a Permit?

The parameters for building a shed without a building permit vary according to your location. Let’s share some examples of what’s allowed:


Dallas


According to Chapter 52, Section 301(b) of the Dallas City Code (Dallas Building Code), a building permit is not required for utility buildings with a floor area of less than 200 square feet, without utilities.


San Antonio


One-story detached accessory structures that are to be used as tool or storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses require no building permit, as long as the floor area doesn’t exceed 300 square feet, according to the San Antonio government.


Forth Worth


According to information published by 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


The city of Houston exempts permit requirements for residential accessory structures, including storage sheds, as long as they are no 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 build your shed without a building permit, you run the risk of the following:

  • Having to pay a sizeable fine upward of $50,000

  • Possibility of jail time as part of your penalty

  • Receiving complaints from neighbors

  • Having penalties imposed by your Homeowner’s Association

  • Getting slapped with a lien of your property

  • Structural failure

  • The authorities may force you to reconstruct or move your shed to comply with regulations

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


Zoning Rules & Utility Permits


Regardless of whether you need a permit for your new shed or not, there will be zoning regulations you have to follow. The following are just a few examples.


Setbacks


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


As a guideline, if your shed is going to be less than 15 feet tall, you must keep 5 feet clear from the side and rear property lines. If your shed is going to be more than 15 feet tall, you must keep 10 feet from the rear of your property and 5 feet from your side property line clear. There will 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 on any easements. If you built on an easement, you may incur a fine or be asked to demolish your shed.


Electrical Permit


If you are adding electrical items and wiring to your shed, you’ll need an electric permit. If the electricity in your shed needs changes to be made to the main electrical meter, only a registered electrician can get a permit.


Tree Permit


If there are certain trees on your property, you may need to get 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 stone or man-made surfaces that are preventing water from draining away into the ground. Impervious cover restrictions are to help prevent flooding during and after heavy rains.

If you live on a floodplain, the impervious cover must not exceed 10% of your property. It must not exceed 45% if you don’t live in a floodplain.


Conclusion


The rules and regulations that surround the construction of a shed can be a minefield if you don’t know what you’re doing. Get it wrong and you run the risk of having to pay a fine and demolishing your shed.


However, hire a professional company like Urban Sheds to help with your shed project and you can feel confident everything is being done right and in accordance with the law.

We make it our mission to help you build your dream shed and have years of experience to ensure it’s done according to your local building and zoning laws.


You stay in control of the design, thanks to our easy-to-use 3D Shed Configurator. The construction of your dream shed is then passed onto one of our community of experienced, freelance craftsmen who will work with you directly.

FAQs


1. What size shed requires a permit in Texas?


You need a permit if your shed will be more than 200 square feet or two stories.


2. 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 that are 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.


3. Does a shed increase property tax in Texas?


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


4. How long do building permits last in Texas?


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


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


If your shed has a floor area of less than 150 square feet and is being used for the temporary storage of materials or equipment, it will not require a building permit. Other than that, you will need a permit.

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