I have always had my sheds near the back corners of my property which has always led to constant walking back and forth since most of my tools, including those used for home repair, are kept there. After moving to a new home and preparing to build my shed it sparked the question, how close can I put my shed to my home?
The allowed distance between your shed and your home depends on the zoning laws in your county/city. Often a permit is not required for sheds under a certain size, however other things to consider are ground, foundation, weather, animals and utilities when determining how close to place your shed.
There is clearly a lot more to consider other than if you are allowed to place a shed in a particular location or not. Even if the county allows you to place it near or right next to your home you could find yourself with a host of other problems which can make your lovely new addition to your home a nightmare.
If you want to place your shed close to your house, but are unsure because you have a deck, patio or asphalt where you want your deck to be, look at these articles to see if placing your shed on your deck or putting your shed on asphalt is possible with your home.
Precisely What Distance From The House is Allowed?
While it is impossible to create a comprehensive list of all small building residential zoning laws, it is easy to find yours in particular once you get past all of the legal jargon. Below I will outline the step by step way to keep you safe with your local authorities when building your new shed addition to your home.
- Search online “[Insert your county/city] residential shed permit” – this will get you the articles to reference when determining your local zoning laws. Also, make sure to do both the county and city as laws could be different and one may not care, but the other may cause a fuss.
- Search online “[Insert your county/city] residential shed permit office phone number” – Can a simple google search be enough? Yes in many cases, however if the building code was updated, but the website never was than you may find it frustrating when the county tells you to take your shed down.
- Call the county – When I spoke with my local permitting office, I found that they had all of the answers to my questions as well as some that I didn’t even know to ask. Taking the time to talk to people who are the experts doing this every day can be a very valuable resource saving you time and money in the long run.
When I did this process myself I found that there was not actual regulation where I lived on how close I was allowed to place my shed to the house. In addition to that, I didn’t even require a permit because I was planning on building a shed less than 200 sqft(this is specific to my location). It pays in time and money to talk to the experts…and it free!
There are a few more considerations in shed proximity to your house that would be worthwhile to consider. Just because you can put a shed right next to your house, does not mean that you should.
Weather Can Affect Where You put Your Shed
Both the rain and snow can have a major impact on where to place your shed and can cause damage to your home if placed too close to your external walls. In addition to this, as the seasons change it may cause a buildup of debris both on top of the roof as well as in the crevice between your home and the shed.
When debris build up such as falling leaves and excess lawn clippings get trapped between the shed and the house it can create homes for small rodents and pests or lead to extra moisture retention that can rot away the wooden footings of your shed. It is best to allow for a certain amount of space between your shed and your home to give sufficient room for routine cleaning as this can prevent these things from happening.
If you place your shed very close to your home and the ground under your shed is sunken in, it can cause pooling water especially in rainy areas or season. This can cause water to leak into the crevices of the foundation eroding it over time or soak the bottom of your shed and cause it to rot away leaving the potential for it to fall.
If you want to read more about shed rot and how detrimental it can really be to your shed check out the article we wrote about how to stop it before it becomes a problem.
Snow can be your worst enemy when it comes to structures. If you live in an area that receives a significant amount of snow, you know to clear your roof of snow to stop the potential of a roof cave in. If the snow that falls from your roof piles on top of your shed, it can create enormous pressure on the top of something that already holds less weight than your home roof. This may lead to leaking shed roofs, rotting portions and ultimate collapse of the shed.
Now that we have discussed some weather considerations, let’s talk about what else may be using your shed.
Rodent Problems In Your Shed
At my previous home I realized that my stuff was not the only things that had taken up residence in my shed. I had a small colony of mice living there feeding on everything that they could sink there teeth into. This was concerning as it was, but I thought how much worse it could have been if I had created a breeding ground right next to my home rather than at the back near the woods.
The most common rodents to share your shed with are mice and rats. While it is frustrating to have them in your shed and there are many ways to get them out, it is disastrous to have them in your house. Many rodents, especially rats, can gnaw through many things. Although chewing through a solid concrete foundation may be out of the question, rats can chew through most materials that a home is made of. Here Terminix explains what they think that rats can chew through.
Providing any rodents with a breeding ground right next to your home gives them ample opportunity to get through the walls, windows, doors or anything else. Once they are inside than I doubt they will decide to go back to that dark, dank shed when it is much nicer to live an air-conditioned buffet.
If you are having trouble identifying what rodents or pests may be in your backyard, check out this article that explains how to identify them by the affects they have on your lawn.
How Does Zoning Affect Shed Placement?
This is probably the most critical to get right when determining how close your shed can be to your house because it will take more money out of your pocket if you get it wrong. Above I described precisely how to find the resources, but sometimes you don’t know which questions to ask, and how your plans for your shed may get affected. Below I will lay out other zoning considerations when determining your shed build and how they may affect the proximity to your home.
- Shed Height – In my county I can have a shed that is 20 ft tall before I require a permit, but if the height of my shed is taller than the roof section I plan on placing it next to than I could have building debris that could weaken the shed as well as the roof which can be a costly replacement.
- Property Size – For me if my property is less than 1 acre, I am not allowed to have my shed in the front of my home. This could be a problem especially if you have limited backyard space and are trying to maximize it for family recreation.
- Proximity to side or rear of property – If you plan to place your shed at the corner of your property butting up against both your home and your neighbor’s property line or fence than you will likely be limited in how close you can place it. While your current neighbor may not care and won’t call the county on you. It could be a stress point with future residents who don’t like the look of it and decide to do their research with the county.
- Yard Size – Many counties limit the size of your shed based off of the size of your yard. Mine limits it to 1/3 of my total yard space which for some may be quite large, but in many places yard space is pretty limited and if you are trying to make a large storage shed to supplement your in home storage you may run into these issues.
My local zoning laws may be very different than yours so don’t take my numbers as the sole truth. A little digging now can save you big later.
Other Considerations For Shed Placement
There are a few more considerations for your shed placement that you should take into account some of which provide some pros to a closer proximity to your home.
If you don’t like the placement of your shed than it may be easier to move than you think, check out this article about exactly how to do it.
- Utilities – If you want anything in your shed except for space than placing it closer to your home will ultimately make it easier to manage. Lighting, power to tools, and many other accessories require electricity and you can either use your home electricity if it is close to your house, or you would need to route new wiring to your shed. The same goes for water if you plan on having a washroom or cleaning equipment in your shed.
- Ground – Depending on how level the ground is around your home or yard it could affect where you are even able to place your shed. Leveling your lawn can be a huge amount of work and can cause major problems if the ground is not prepared properly prior to placing your shed. If leveling your ground is something that needs to be done, we have resources for both leveling hard ground or identifying why your ground is soft and spongy.
- Foundation – Does your shed need a foundation or not? Often times if it does than you will find that the city/county will require a permit and you will also have to prepare the site by identifying the utility locations before you dig. This is critically important as a damaged utility line can cause thousands of dollars of work to fix and that would more than dwarf the cost of most shed.
When it comes down to it, you can place most residential sheds wherever you want. Knowing the major concerns of placing it right next to your home may out way the potential benefits, but depending on the layout of your backyard it may be the right choice for you. Just ensure that wherever it is, do proper shed care maintenance and it will solve most if not all of the major shed problems that homeowners run into.