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Guide to Building Codes for Home Additions, Fences, and Sheds

Often, homeowners find themselves needing to add space or security measures to their homes or properties over the years. Whether the space or security measures include home additions, fences, garages, or sheds, there is a lot to consider before beginning a project. In determining the specifics of a project, the overall size of the project should be carefully calculated. It is important to determine the size of the project, because many areas have specific rules and regulations that must be followed when building a structure that exceeds a certain height or width. Often, a permit must be secured before a project is started. Because local and state laws vary greatly with these requirements, homeowners are advised to thoroughly research local regulations before beginning any large project.

Home Additions

Any major modification or extension added to a home is considered a home addition. Some of the most popular kinds of home additions include bedrooms and attached garages. In addition to considering the physical work that a home addition will require, homeowners should consider the legal processes that modifying a home or large structure requires. For most home additions, a building or construction permit is required. To secure a permit, most areas require that a basic building project plan be submitted. After a permit has been applied for, a more detailed and specific plan is often requested. Homeowners should be prepared to pay a fee and be capable of completing their project within the time specified by the construction permit.

Home Renovations

Home renovations are a great way to add new life to a home. Renovating areas such as bathrooms and kitchens can increase the overall value of a home for those who intend to sell. Before performing a major renovation on a home, it is best to review local regulations concerning home renovations. Some locations may require a homeowner to secure a construction permit before renovating if the project is rather large. Generally, minor renovations such as painting a home or replacing tiles on a roof do not require permits, as they do not alter the structure of the home. As a basic guideline, if the structure of any area of the home will be affected during the remodel, a homeowner should seek a construction permit before beginning the renovation.

  • Construction Permit Tips for Homeowners - Here, a detailed guide for homeowners in San Diego, CA, seeking information about when construction permits are required for home renovations or additions is provided.
  • Alteration and Addition Permits - The Permit Department of Montgomery County, MD, has compiled a list of various alterations to homes and properties that require permits.

Garages

When it comes to building residential garages, there are a lot of options. Homeowners may choose to build either an attached or a detached garage. If a homeowner decides to build an attached garage, they must follow the home addition regulations of their area and seek a construction permit. For those who choose to build a detached garage, a construction permit may still be necessary. The overall expected size of the garage will play a large part in determining whether or not a permit is needed. Smaller garages may require a subject-to-field inspection permit versus a traditional construction permit. This type of permit generally costs less than a traditional permit, but detached garages must meet specific local regulation requirements to qualify.

  • Project Guide for Garages (Attached and Detached) - The city of Denver, CO, offers a guide to building both attached and detached garages. This guide also includes information on building permits, inspections, and fees for residents.
  • Building a Detached Garage - This resource discusses the basics of building a detached garage in Carroll County, MD, as well as the common building permits and inspections that are required.
  • Garage: Attached and Detached Resource Guide - On this website, visitors will find general information on building garages, as well as specific legal building requirements for residents of Schaumburg, IL.

Sheds

Sheds are a great way to increase the amount of storage space that a household has. Sheds are most commonly used to store outdoor equipment, such as lawn mowers and gardening tools. They are generally smaller than garages and do not always require a building permit. Some sheds, much like detached garages, may require a subject-to-field inspection permit. Homeowners should consult their local agency to determine whether any permits or fees are required for sheds in their location.

  • Building and Safety Regulations - This resource discusses various safety regulations for building small structures such as sheds in the County of Los Angeles, CA.
  • Residential Sheds (PDF) - The city of Cincinnati, OH, has complied all of the building codes and regulations in the city as they apply to residential sheds in this PDF file.
  • Shed and Mini-barn Regulations (PDF) - There are several regulations surrounding the building a shed in Indianapolis, IN. Read about them here.

Swimming Pools

Swimming pools are a great way to add value and overall appeal to a home. Homeowners who wish to install a swimming pool on their property should first determine whether they wish to build an in-ground or aboveground pool. Generally, aboveground pools are much less expensive. Those who wish to build an in-ground pool, however, often build much larger pools. Homeowners should also take the local regulations for building swimming pools into consideration when determining which type of pool to build or install at home. In some locations, homeowners may be required to install a fence or barrier that meets local standards. Often, these fences and barriers are large enough to require a permit, even though the swimming pool construction itself may not.

Fences

Fences are often used in residential settings to increase the amount of privacy and security offered to residents. Other homeowners may simply prefer the look of a small fence surrounding their home. Regardless of the purpose of the fence, the size of a fence generally determines whether or not a permit is needed. In urban or city areas, nearly any size fence will require a building permit and permission from the city. In rural areas, there is generally more leeway, but most areas require that a permit be secured before building a fence that is over six feet tall. Homeowners should be prepared with sketches and plans when a permit is required, as well as written permission from any neighbors that will share the fence.

  • Fences: Planning and Zoning - Although fences can be much smaller than swimming pools, garages, and sheds, there are strict rules and regulations that homeowners must follow when constructing a fence. This resource discusses the specific regulations for building fences in the city of Austin, TX.
  • When is a Permit Required for a Fence? (PDF) - This document answers questions homeowners in Cincinnati, OH, may have about building fences. Although rules and regulations vary by location, these rules can give homeowners a general idea of what is expected.
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