What You Need to Know Before You Buy An Outdoor Structure

Creating the backyard of your dreams can include anything from a shed for additional storage, a pergola for afternoon shade, a decorative gazebo, or barn space to house animals big and small. Whatever you’re in the market to buy, there are a few things you’ll want to consider before you buy an outdoor structure, saving you a lot of headaches and money in the end.

Know Your Local Zoning and Building Permit Regulations

Do you need a zoning permit or building permit to add a shed to your backyard? What about for a new swing set? Or a chicken coop? Does it depend on the square footage? Does it depend on the purpose of the structure? Sadly, there is no blanket answer, and it’s going to come down to the rules for the municipality you live in. Contact your city, borough, or township office and inquire about the necessary permits you’ll need before you buy.

So what is the difference between a zoning and building permits? Zoning regulation governs the placement of objects such as driveways, fences, swimming pools, and structures like garages, sheds, or barns on your property. Building permits regulate the structure itself and specify the quality and safety standards, ensuring your structure meets local code.

Review Your HOA Regulations


In addition to local ordinances, if you live in a housing development that is governed by a Home Owner’s Association, you’ll need to work within their covenant, conditions & restrictions (CC&R) when purchasing and installing an outdoor structure. Regulation of detached structures, including storage sheds, garages, and swing sets, is a common issue homeowners have with their HOA.

Your HOA may have set limitations on the size, placement, materials, or colors of the shed or structure you plan on purchasing. So review your CC&R to avoid the costly mistake of choosing an “unapproved” structure.

Choose the Right Location


You may already have the perfect corner of your yard chosen for your gardening shed or gazebo, but before you buy you should probably double check that this location is the most suitable.

The most important thing to determine is if your chosen location has the proper setback.  This is the distance between your structure and your property line, street/road, or river/stream. To determine the specific setback rules for your property, consult with your municipality office.

In addition to a setback, you’ll want to also choose a location that has:

  1. Clearance from any fences, trees, brush, or other structures of at least 3 feet around the perimeter
  2. Land grade that is less than a 6-inch slope (highest to lowest point)
  3. No large rocks or stumps
  4. Proper drainage

Ensure Easy Access

Before you buy, you should think beyond just your backyard. Take a stroll around your entire property and imagine the installation of your structure. Is there anything in your front yard or side yard that would encumber the delivery and installation processes?

Access to the final installation site must be clear of:

  1. Narrow walkways or stairs
  2. Fences
  3. Shrubs or elaborate landscaping
  4. Carports
  5. Arbors

Additionally, a larger, pre-built structure will need to be delivered on a trailer. Talk to your dealer about the exact dimensions of space needed for a trailer to fit onto your property.

Do you have more questions about purchasing an outdoor structure for your yard? Before you buy, send a message to our professional staff for the information you need.