FAQ: North Carolina Permitting

Many home improvement projects require you to get a permit before starting the project: tearing down a building, adding a plumbing system in some buildings, and, in some cases, the addition of a shed. Permits allow the city or county to inspect your property and make sure the building will be safe and well constructed for occupants. They’re also looking to help protect your property values and the values of your neighbor’s property.

It’s better to get a permit before beginning alterations because, if you decide to sell down the road, the project will have to be permitted and inspected before the sale can close– meaning finished work may need to be undone to properly inspect the project.

Added costs of not getting a permit from your city or county can include:

    • Citations
    • Increased cost for obtaining a permit, including fines, fees, additional service fees, and court costs
    • Potential home hazards
    • Removal of work at your expense
  • And the refusal of your homeowner’s insurance to cover issues as they arise that occur due to non-permitted construction

Where Does Getting A Permit Fall In The Shed Buying Process?

When you decide you need a backyard shed, the process of choosing and purchasing the shed may seem daunting. However, if you break the process down into steps, it becomes much more manageable.

The first step is to pick out an in-stock shed or design a custom shed. This can be done by browsing Shed Depot’s online catalog or by working with a sales staff member to create a unique design.

Once you have selected your shed, the next step is to discuss your options and finalize the purchase with a Shed Depot sales representative.

Finally, you will need to obtain the necessary permitting paperwork from your local municipality.

With careful planning and execution, the process of buying a backyard shed can be smooth and hassle-free.

When a Permit is Needed

For any accessory building, such as a shed, with any dimension exceeding 12 feet, The North Carolina State Building Code requires that a permit be issued, though a 12’x12’ shed doesn’t normally need a permit. Each county or local municipality manages this process differently and with varying fee structures.

North Carolina Permitting

How to Apply for a Permit

Every municipality handles the permit process differently. But, there are some basics.

The first step is to fill out the application. Some common applications we see are:

    • Raleigh
    • Wake County
    • Hoke County
    • Fayetteville
    • Cumberland County

Sometimes you will need to file both a city and county permit, though they are combined in some areas. Most often the permitting process is done through the county or city if you are in the city limits of a medium to a large city.

When filling out the application, there may be documents requested.

These usually include construction and set-up plans to show how the shed will be constructed, set up, and fixed into the ground.

The Shed Depot can provide these plans for customers are no extra charge.

You may also be required to provide a site plan. The site plan will show the location of the structure on your property and includes measurements and calculations that may include:

    • Dimensions of the accessory structure to be added
    • Location of the structure relative to property boundaries, setbacks will vary by city/county
    • Size and location of other structures, like your home, on the property
    • Location of any septic systems
    • Easements, Right of Ways, or other boundaries
  • All impervious surfaces, such as paved driveways and sidewalks

If you are on a septic system, a separate application and fee may be required to review and inspect the location of the septic tank and lines relative to the location of the structure. The shed cannot be placed on the septic lines, but may sometimes be placed on the repair field so long as the structure is portable and may be moved in the event of septic repair needs.  

Once approved, a “final inspection” is required after the installation of the shed. The “final inspection” can be called in after installation and consists of an on-site evaluation by a building inspector to ensure the construction, installation, and placement of the building were done in accordance with the approved application documents.

Usually, your presence is not required at the time of this inspection, but the shed should be unlocked and accessible. All documentation, including the application, plans, permit cards issued, and the approved permit, should be accessible to the inspector as well.


How long does the permit process take?

It depends.  Some permits can be issued at the same time (within an hour) of application submittal and others can take up to 2 weeks.  If a septic inspection is necessary, this usually takes longer and is done in conjunction with the local Health Department in your area.

How much does it cost?

Again, this depends.  There is usually an application fee that typically ranges from $50 – $150 and an additional charge based either on the square footage of the structure or on the price of the building.  If a septic review is also required, then this also has a fee, typically ranging from $100 – $200. These are our estimates only and we recommend checking with your local officials prior to purchasing an accessory structure.

Who applies for the permit?

At The Shed Depot of NC, the homeowner applies for the permit.  Much of the information is specific to the homeowner’s property.  The Shed Depot can usually provide the necessary building construction schematics (plans) at no additional charge unless “site-specific” Engineered drawings are required.  We are also happy to address any questions your Inspections Department has regarding these plans.

What if my shed is 12’x12’ or smaller?

Normally building permits are not required, but some local municipalities still require a “zoning” permit.  Usually, this only requires a site plan and fee. This is more likely in older downtown areas or historic districts.

How will my shed be set up?

All sheds with any dimension exceeding 12’ must be affixed to the ground and include hurricane clips or other methods to attach the roof securely to the walls.  At The Shed Depot of NC, we include mobile home ground anchors and hurricane clips on any shed exceeding 12’ in any dimension. The placement of leveling piers is also noted on our Engineered Plans.

What if my shed is portable or Rent-To-Own?

Even “portable” or Rent-To-Own sheds are subject to these permit regulations.  Maybe this was not the case years ago, but in our experience permits should be obtained even if the shed is “portable” or purchased on a Rent-To-Own payment plan.

Do I have to get a permit?

The Shed Depot of NC does not require that you get a permit, we simply advise customers when they are required and how to get one.  The permit responsibility is the sole responsibility of the customer.

It is the responsibility of the homeowner to obtain all necessary Homeowners Association approval and to check with their local permitting office to see if a permit is required. Different cities and different counties have different requirements that must be taken into account when applying for a permit. At Shed Depot, we can provide engineered drawings, free of charge, which are usually necessary to acquire permits.

Do I need a permit to run electricity to my shed?

In North Carolina, you will need to obtain a permit in order to run electricity to your shed.

The process for doing so is fairly straightforward and can be completed by contacting your local municipality.

Once you have obtained the necessary permit, you will need to hire a qualified electrician to complete the wiring.

This is an important step, as improper wiring can pose a serious fire hazard.

Once the wiring is complete, you will be able to enjoy the convenience of having electricity in your shed.

What happens if you build a shed without a permit in NC?

In North Carolina, it is generally required to obtain a permit before building a shed on your property.

This is because sheds are considered to be accessory structures, which are regulated by the state.

Failure to obtain a permit can result in a fine and the shed may need to be torn down if it does not meet code requirements.

Therefore, it is generally advisable to obtain a permit before building a shed in North Carolina. By doing so, you can avoid any potential penalties and ensure that your shed meets all the necessary requirements.

Do you need a permit to put an already built shed on your property?

You may need a permit to put an already built shed on your property in NC, depending on the size and location of the shed.

In addition, the way the shed is going to be used is also important.

If you plan to use your shed for storage, hobby work, or as a workshop, you may not need to obtain a permit.

However, if you intend to use the shed as an office space or guest house, you may need to obtain the appropriate permits from your local zoning department.

Please check with your local municipalities before purchasing a pre-built shed.

To obtain a permit, you will need to submit an application to your local building department. Once your application has been approved, you will be able to proceed with putting the shed on your property.

We’re Here To Help Every Step Of The Way

We can also build and set up our sheds using concrete block leveling piers and ground anchors for buildings larger than 12 feet in any dimension at no additional charge to meet code requirements.

In Wake County, residents should be aware that, as of August 2018, there is a four to six-week wait to process a building permit.

custon shed permitting

If you have any other questions about the permitting process, pre-delivery planning, and more, check out our FAQ or contact us.

Alternatively, fill out the form below and you will be contacted shortly.