You need a permit to put any shed/ accessory building in your yard. Sheds that are built elsewhere and moved to your yard and prefab sheds also require a permit. At any time during the planning or construction of your shed/accessory building, you can call or visit the Building Inspection staff if you have questions. They are happy to answer your questions and suggest solutions to your problems.

Process Overview

  1. Determine Zoning

    Before building or placing a shed on your property, you will need to determine if the zoning restrictions on your lot allow for a shed. Zoning staff will be able to tell you the zoning of your property and if there are any special conditions which may affect your project. If your project requires special handling, our staff will inform you of the requirements and next steps.

    Find out the zoning for your property.

    Who to Contact

    Zoning at Building Permits: (608) 266-4551.

  2. Review Requirements

    • The maximum height that your shed/ accessory building can be is fifteen (15) feet, measured from the ground to a point midway between the eave and top of the roof.
    • A shed/accessory building must be a minimum of three (3) feet away from your house or other structures on your property.
    • A shed/accessory building should be at least three (3) feet from the rear or side lot lines of your yard.
    • A shed/accessory building located in the rear forty (40) feet of your lot most likely meets zoning requirements in your neighborhood.
    • A shed/accessory building placed along the side of your house requires a setback greater than three (3) feet from the side lot line. Check with Zoning staff for this setback distance.

    If your lot is on a corner or is irregularly shaped, the setbacks may be different than described. Show your site plan to city Zoning staff to find out quickly and accurately where you can build your shed and the size it can be.

    With these requirements in mind, make a drawing (site plan) of your entire lot showing all existing and proposed structures. Show the dimensions of the lot, the shed, the house, and any other structures. Also show the distances from the shed to the lot lines and the distances to all other structures. The site plan must be drawn to scale. Using a scale of 1 inch = 20 feet usually works best.

  3. Apply for a Permit

    You need a permit to put any shed/ accessory building in your yard. Sheds that are built elsewhere and moved to your yard and prefab sheds also require a permit.

    At the Building Inspection Counter a staff person will enter your application information directly into the Building Inspection computer system. You will get a printout to verify the information.

    Where to Go

    Building Inspection Permit Counter
    126 S. Hamilton St.
    Madison, WI 53703

    Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:30 am – 4:30 pm

    What to Include
    • You will need two (2) copies of the 8 1/2 x 11 inch drawing (site plan) you made in Step 2.
    • If your shed is over 150 square feet, you will need construction documents.

    For simple projects, staff will review your plans for structural and zoning compliance while you wait, and a permit can be issued immediately. More complex projects will take longer to review and issue a permit for.

  4. Pay the Fee and Receive Your Permit

    For sheds less than 150 square feet there is no building review charge, but the minimum $25 for zoning review applies.

  5. Start the Work

    Be sure to display the permit where it can be seen from the street for the duration of construction.

  6. Call for an Inspection

    When your permit is issued, Permit Counter staff will tell you if and when an inspection is required and the name and phone number of the Building Inspector for your area. View required inspections.

    On-site inspection of your shed/ accessory building during construction assures your shed is properly located and built.

    It is your responsibility to schedule all required inspections during and after construction.

  7. Completion

    After your final inspection, your project will be considered complete.

Related Forms & Handouts