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Garden shed regulations

Updated April 17, 2017

Regulations for garden sheds vary from place to place, and even between neighbourhoods. Before you go out and buy or build a garden shed, research your community's rules to make certain you won't be violating any regulations with the garden shed you have in mind. Also make sure the land on which you wish to place your garden shed has no restrictions either, such as land that is in a flood plain.

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Regulations governing the types, sizes and specifications of garden sheds--or whether you can have one at all--depend upon where you live. If you live in a neighbourhood or subdivision that has a homeowners association or a neighbourhood council, check with that organisation first. Even if garden sheds are allowed in another part of town, they may not be allowed in your neighbourhood, or the specs for them may be different. For example, some homeowners associations require residents to submit plans to them for any exterior changes before they can be begun. Not complying with these rules can result in fines. See the example in the references of a homeowners association covenant in Westfield, Indiana.

Local Government

Your next step would be to check with your town, city or township planning department. That agency may have ordinances in place regarding specifications on outdoor buildings in residential areas. For example, Zionsville, Indiana, restricts the height of buildings and landscaping in certain areas to adhere to vision clearance regulations (see Section 18 of ordinance in the references).


Be sure to take into account the land on which you wish to build a garden shed. For example, if the land is in a floodplain or wetland area, you will likely need to check with your city's zoning ordinance or your state's Department of Environmental Management to make sure you are allowed to build there. Make certain there are no other restrictions imposed upon the land on which you wish to place your garden shed.


After you have checked with all the local and state agencies mentioned here and learn that you are allowed to have a garden shed, make certain the specifications of your proposed garden shed meet all those agencies' requirements. It would be money lost if you were to build your shed the way you want it only to find out that one or more of its features is prohibited. Believe it or not, in some neighbourhoods, even specific exterior paint colours are prohibited on buildings.


It is also worth your time to check with government planning departments to see their master plan. One Indiana family learnt this when they saw the county's master plan for roads. The road they lived on was designated to be straightened, and the new road would go right through the middle of their house. It pays to check to see if future subdivisions, public buildings, car parks, roads or other construction are planned for your land or neighbouring parcels that would affect your decision. Even roads that are scheduled for widening could affect your property.

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About the Author

Susan Miller

Susan Miller has been a professional journalist since 1990. She edited two weeklies for a chain of suburban newspapers and has written for the "Indianapolis Star," the "Indianapolis Business Journal" and several magazines, among other publications and websites. Miller studied design, photography and technology at Purdue University and Central Piedmont Community College.

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