Overview | 1. Define | 2. Consult | 3. Apply | 4. Review | 5. Inspect


Getting a permit ensures that changes on your property follow the City of Austin’s rules or are “up to code.” Building permits ensure that any changes you make are safe for you, guests, and neighbors. Before you start building your shed or applying for permits, it’s important to:

  • define and describe your project,
  • find out if you need permits and what they are,
  • and collect the right information for your consultation and application.

You can start by making sure your definition of your project is the same as the City of Austin’s definition.

What Is a Shed?

A simple, enclosed structure no one lives in that is physically detached from your house and is used primarily for storage.

Projects that have the same requirements as a shed include: greenhouses, workshops, garages or carports, gazebos, and playhouses.

If this doesn’t sound like your project, check out the General Process page.

Zoning Requirements

Whether your project needs a permit or not, there are still zoning regulations you must follow to make sure your shed follows the City of Austin’s code. Some customers choose to buy pre-made sheds since they can be moved off of easements and setbacks. Pre-made sheds still count toward your total impervious cover and building coverage. They must also follow zoning requirements.

easement setback impervious cover

What is a setback? The space between a lot’s border and the area where a building can be built. Setbacks typically cannot have anything built on them. Setbacks vary per zoning type. If you are not sure of your property zoning type you can either visit Residential Review during walk-in hours or visit the Property Profile tool. If your shed will be less than 15 feet tall, then you must keep 5 feet from both your side and rear property lines clear. You may not build within these spaces. If you shed will be more than 15 feet tall, then you must keep 10 feet from your rear property line clear and 5 feet from your side property line clear. You may not build within these spaces. There is also a 25 foot setback from your front property line.
What is an easement? An area of a resident’s property that can be used, built on or changed by a government entity or neighbor. You may not build on any easements on your property. The city will need to access any easements on your lot. You may be fined or asked to demolish your shed if you choose to build it on an easement.
What is impervious cover? Rooftops, driveways, parking lots, and other man-made or stone surfaces that keep water from being absorbed into the ground. Impervious cover restrictions are put in place to prevent flooding during and after heavy rains. If you do not live in a floodplain, your impervious cover cannot exceed 45% of your property. If you do live in a floodplain, your impervious cover cannot exceed 10% of your property. Impervious cover restrictions are in place to make sure a significant amount of water is making it back into the soil and to prevent flooding.

Do I Need a Permit?

The City of Austin provides a variety of permits to help residents build safe and sustainable projects. Many projects require more than one type of permit.

Building Permits

Your shed requires a building permit if it will:

  • be more than one story,
  • be over 200 square feet,
  • have plumbing,
  • be over 15 feet tall,
  • be attached to your house,
  • or be built in a floodplain. To find out if you’re in a floodplain, use your address at If your Flood Zone says “Flood Zone: X,” then you do not live in a floodplain.
How much do building permits cost?

The current cost for permitting a shed can be found at DSD Fees. This cost includes the plan review, the permit itself, your inspections, and additional fees.

There are additional fees if you build near a protected tree or need a trade permit. Your reviewer will explain any additional costs during your consultation.

Do prefabricated sheds require a permit?

A prefabricated shed may still require a permit. You don’t need a permit to build or pour a foundation (such as pier and beam or concrete slab) for a prefabricated shed that otherwise doesn’t need a building permit.

Electric Permits

Having electricity in your shed requires an electric permit.

  • Make sure to tell your reviewer your shed needs an electric permit and circle it on your application.
  • If you want to run a line of electricity to your shed for a light or outlet, you will need to get a stand-alone electric permit from the Service Center.
  • Only a registered electrician can get a permit if the electricity in your shed requires making changes to the main electrical meter.

Tree Permits

Having certain trees on your property may require a tree permit.

You will need to have your project reviewed by a city arborist if you have any trees over 19 inches in diameter on your property. Even though there aren’t any trees inside your home, arborists make sure the tree’s Critical Root Zone isn’t damaged by any construction equipment brought in to remodel your home. Learn more about regulated trees and their construction requirements.

Having certain trees on your property may require a tree permit.

If any of your trees measure 19 inches or more in diameter, they are regulated and require a Tree Ordinance Review Application before you start construction. You will also need to pay an additional fee. Learn more about building near a tree.

Make Sure You Can Get a Permit

You may not be able to get a new permit right away if your property currently has an expired permit. Use the public search at Austin Build + Connect to check for expired permits.

You may also be unable to get a permit if you have already reached the maximum amount of impervious cover on your property. If this happens, reconsider your shed materials and design or come in for a consultation to find out if you can get a permit.

Schedule a Consultation

It is possible to prepare your permit application without consulting with a reviewer. However, many residents prefer to schedule a consultation with a reviewer before applying for their permits. During this consultation, the reviewer will:

  • let you know if you can complete your project as you originally planned,
  • give you the personalized property information you need to fill out your building permit application,
  • give you a list of documents you need to prepare for your building permit application based on your specific project,
  • and explain any next steps needed for you to correctly permit your project.

Schedule your appointment online or call 512-978-4504 for assistance. 

Hiring a Professional

You may need to hire a licensed professional to help you complete your project.