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  • Jeremy Horning

Shed Permits and Regulations in Washington DC

Sheds are sometimes considered accessory structures by homeowners, because of how it enhances the aesthetics of their home.

You can decide to build a shed on your property for a couple of reasons. Some people erect storage sheds because they need more space to store items. On the other hand, homeowners also build sheds simply because they believe it'll increase the monetary value of their property, in case they decide to put it up "for sale" later in the future.


Every state has its code requirements for residential projects, and it's important that you familiarize yourself with all the code standards and development standards, so you don't put yourself at risk with the law.

Let's go through the shed requirements needed if you intend to build a shed in Washington DC.

What Is A Shed Building Permit?

What Is A Shed Building Permit

A shed permit is what gives you the right as a homeowner to build an extra accessory dwelling unit in your space. In Washington state, certain permit requirements are needed depending on the size of shed you intend to build.


Washington DC has height limits that you aren't supposed to exceed without a site development permit; we'll elaborate more on that shortly.

You can get shed building permits from local government agencies, but note that it's not always an easy process.


Do You Need A Building Permit For a Shed in Washington DC?


In Washington, you'll probably need to go through permit applications for almost everything, just check all the zoning and building codes to be sure. In instances when you don't need a building permit for your shed, maybe due to its small size, you'll likely still need to apply for zoning permits.


If you are planning on building a shed and you don't want to go through the hassles of application forms and permit fees, then you need to get a shed that's lesser than 10 feet in height. Also, it should either be 6x8 square footage or smaller, as anything bigger than that will require a permit.


How to Get A Shed Permit in Washington DC


Getting a shed permit in Washington DC is a must if you want to build a shed, or you risk getting fined because you are violating the law.

Before starting your shed building permit application process, you'll need to have some documents ready;

  • Floor plans

  • Building evaluation

  • Site plans

  • Electrical drawings (if electrical service is included)

  • Compliance form

If you are certain that you have all of these documents in your complete application, you can proceed to request a shed permit. There are three ways you can get your shed permit;


Via Email


This option is perfect for those who want to get their shed permit from the comfort of their homes. Go to the official page DCRA's online platform and download the form. Make sure to input only the correct details when filling out this form, and after you are done, send it to 1100 4th St SW, Washington, D.C. 20024.


In-Person


The DCRA offices are open on business days, and you can visit them from the hours of 8:30 am to 4:30 pm to apply for your shed permit.

Note that, this is not always an easy route, because your shed plan can have many corrections after the initial review, and you'll need to implement those changes. Sometimes, check for hazardous materials might be carried out, so all of these will require extra checks. However, be rest assured that it's for your benefit.


Online


Before you decide on using this method, ensure you already have an account with DCRA, or create one with your email address.

Go to the website, fill out the application form correctly, and be sure to input all the asked details like; proof of payment for the shed permit, plumbing permit, and construction permit.

If your application has been approved, you'll be notified to upload other supporting documents, so your application can be reviewed.


How much does a shed building permit cost in Washington DC?



Ideally, the cost of a shed permit is dependent on the size and value of the shed. It can cost anywhere from $50-$500.


How Long Does it Take to Get a Shed Building Permit in Washington DC?


In Washington DC, a shed permit can take up to 30 business days to be ready. Construction projects need thorough inspections, especially big sheds, as they are considered permanent dwellings.

On that same note, it can also take up to 5 months, and that's why some homeowners make use of agents to speed up the process.


Can You Build a Shed Without Planning Permission?


Washington has many historic buildings and when it comes to zoning codes and rules, they are very strict.

While it's true that you can get a temporary use permit for your shed, you cannot build a shed without a permit.


However, if your shed is not over 10 feet in height measured from the down to the top, and less than 6x8 square footage, you don't need a shed permit.

Also, one-story detached accessory structures converted to sheds, don't need permits.


What size shed can you build without a permit in Washington DC?


You do not need a shed permit if you plan on building a single storage shed with a maximum height of 10ft and 6x8 square footage. Larger shed sizes of 16x20, and more than 10 inches in height require a permit.


How tall can my shed be?


While sheds can be categorized as detached accessory structures, they aren't actual buildings. In Washington, the height of your shed shouldn't exceed 15 feet in height.


What happens if you build a shed without a permit in Washington DC?


If your storage shed is more than 10 feet tall in Washington DC, it's a crime, and can attract the following;

  • Fines

  • Penalties of $2000 or more

  • Removal/demolition of shed

More zoning rules


Laws are put in place to enable individual property owners enjoy privacy on their property. Imagine getting into an argument with your neighbor because their shed is causing an obstruction.

It's for this reason that certain setback and easement rules are put in place, as they help make the neighbourhood peaceful.


Setbacks


Setbacks are made to regulate the distance between a shed and a property line. Encroachments into setbacks out of the agreed distance means breaking the law, and you'll be fined.

In Washington, your shed cannot be within 20ft of a property line or within 5ft of side property line subjects.


Easements


You can build your shed on a property easement, although that may not be advised if you don't want any disturbances.


Conclusion


Every state has its regulations that relate to the maximum fence height, size, and foundation type. In some states, you won't need a permit if your shed is sitting on a concrete slab, but in Washington DC, you need a permit if your shed is more than 10 inches above grade.

If you are confused about what your dream shed will look like, send us a message at Urban Sheds Washington DC, and we'll help you achieve a cozy storage shed for all your needs.


FAQs


1. How long does a shed permit last in Washington DC?

An issued shed permit becomes invalid after a year if work has not yet begun on the property.

2. What's the biggest shed I can build without a permit in Washington DC?

If you are building your shed on a residential property or historic property, and you don't want to apply for a permit; the biggest size you can build is 6x8, and the feet in height shouldn't exceed 10ft.

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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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