Having a shed in your backyard or anywhere on the premises of your home is an excellent way to increase storage space for your lawn equipment or outdoor equipment like bicycles, generators, or even any grills you might have. While they are convenient, you need a permit to build a shed in several places, even in your backyard. Most of these laws and regulations are dictated by the local homeowner’s association (HOA). However, since Canada does not have an extensive network of HOAs, shed-building requirements are left for the state to decide on, and you need to check whether a permit might be required to build a shed.
The following explanation will guide you through what necessitates a permit for building a shed and the technicalities around it that can prevent a bureaucratic and cumbersome process. Let us first look at whether or not you need a permit to build a shed, and then we’ll get into the technicalities.
Let’s get started.
The short answer is yes. A permit is required before building a shed. However, not all sheds need to have permits before being constructed. The primary determinant will be size; sheds over a specific size will need permits beforehand, and unlawfully constructed sheds will be confiscated, subject to a court hearing over the failure to comply with local building laws, like the Ontario Building Code.
As stated, only sheds larger than a specified size will need permits. If your shed plans exceed that size, the building plans for the shed and an application and other associated documents will need to be submitted to your local authorities, and construction can only begin once the council has given it the green light.
According to the Ontario Building Code, any structure more prominent than 160 feet requires a building permit. In contrast, any structure or shed smaller than 160 feet can be erected without a permit without prior intimation to the city council. As such, you must pay close attention to the plans of your shed and its dimensions; a routine check may lead officers to an unlawful property in your backyard, subjected to seizure by city officials. But before we look into some other factors that may require a permit before you start construction on the shed, let us look at why a permit is so crucial for backyard sheds.
A building permit for sheds in your backyard seems like an incredibly bureaucratic process; it is not worth the trouble of engaging with the zoning board or commission and registering it with the local authorities. However, the legal reasoning behind this is sound. The primary purpose of the city council requiring larger sheds to be registered with them is because of safety reasons. Structures of a specific size need to have safety features for their occupants, and the safety extends to the neighbors, who may have reservations over the placement of such a sizeable shed. You are good to go once the city council checks the shed and is satisfied with its safety arrangements.
Now, we will look at some factors beyond size that will necessitate a building permit before erecting your shed.
The following is a quick rundown of factors determining whether your shed will need prior approval besides size. Let’s look into them.
A small, simple storage shed usually does not need electrical connections. However, large elaborate sheds with multiple rooms will need to be hooked up to the grid, and when you do so, you will need a permit. There are two reasons: first, you cannot make it a DIY job and set about connecting your shed to the grid by yourself; it is dangerous and illegal. Secondly, once you connect your shed to the grid, it will need additional safety measures, including proper earthing and approved electric fittings. As such, electrical connections will always spawn a permit from your local city council.
Intended use is cited as the second reason (behind size) for backyard sheds requiring permits and approvals. Your local zoning authority or commission will need to know whether the shed is being set up for work, storage, or any other purposes, and even so, it needs to be further specified. If it is being used as a storage shed, what is the individual intending to store in it? Similarly, whatever work you intend to partake in the shed will also need to be communicated to the concerned officials, and this will always result in the shed needing approval and a permit before work on it can begin.
While Canada isn’t big on HOAs like its neighbor down south, it still has some presence and system of the HOA in place. If you reside in a neighborhood with an HOA, you must inform the governing body of your intention to construct a shed in your backyard, and approval is necessary. While that doesn’t merit the issuance of a permit (from a zoning commission or city council), in some cases, the local HOA has the authority to issue or deny permits, so you must take the HOA seriously.
The final factor that will determine whether a permit is needed or not for a backyard shed is placement. Several local regulations govern where and within which vicinities a backyard shed can be placed, and you will need confirmation of all of these requirements. To get familiar with these dimensions, visit your local zoning board or commission and inform them of your plan to build a backyard shed. Ensure your backyard shed follows placement guidelines, and you won’t have any issues getting a permit.
Despite its size requirements, you will need a backyard shed permit. For example, even if your shed does not exceed 160 feet, it will require a permit if it has electrical or plumbing connections. In short, permits are very necessary, and no matter the specifications, you will need prior approval for your backyard shed.
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