Does a Greenhouse Need a Permit

  • By: Rob Jones
  • Date: May 27, 2022
  • Time to read: 9 min.
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Do you need a permit to build a greenhouse? This is a question that many people have, and the answer isn’t always clear. If you are considering building a greenhouse then you will need to know what legal regulations you need to follow. So, Do you need a permit to build a greenhouse?

A permit is not always needed to build a greenhouse, but if you do, you’ll need to look into getting a building permit and a zoning permit. The size, location, and type of greenhouse you want to construct will determine if any greenhouse building permits are needed.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the requirements for building a greenhouse in your backyard. So, if you’re thinking about building your own greenhouse, keep reading!

Do you need a permit to build a greenhouse

There are two permits you might need for building a greenhouse; a zoning permit and a building permit. Whether or not you will need one for your greenhouse will depend on a number of factors.

There is a good chance you won’t need one but it is always advisable to check first, to avoid any problems further down the line.

greenhouse permit

To find out if you need a zoning permit, you will need to contact your local planning and zoning department. You will need to tell them the size and location of your proposed greenhouse. They will then be able to tell you if you need a permit or not.

Even if you don’t need a permit, you may still need to follow certain setback requirements from property lines, roads, and other structures.

A building permit isn’t always required for a greenhouse, but it’s always best to check with your local planning office to find out the specific requirements in your area.

How to get a zoning permit and building permit for your greenhouse

If you want to build a greenhouse, you may need to get a zoning permit and a building permit from your local authorities. The process for getting these permits can vary depending on your location, but there are some general things you need to do.

First, you need to find out if there are any zoning restrictions in your area that would prevent you from building a greenhouse. You can do this by contacting your local zoning office or by looking up the information online. If there are no zoning restrictions, you can move on to the next step.

Next, you need to submit an application for a building permit. This application will need to include a detailed plan of your proposed greenhouse, as well as any other information that may be required by your local authorities. Once you submit your application, you will usually need to wait for a decision from the permitting office.

If you are granted a permit, you will then need to follow the guidelines laid out in the permit in order to build your greenhouse. Once you have completed the construction of your greenhouse, you will need to get it inspected by the local authorities in order to make sure it meets all the requirements.

Can I build a greenhouse without a permit

The building rules and regulations are very different from one municipality to another. It’s best to check with your local building department to see if a permit is required for the type of greenhouse you want.

small greenhouse

A general rule is that you can build a greenhouse without a permit if it meets the following requirements:

  • The structure must be no more than 200 square feet in total area.
  • The height of the tallest point of the structure must be no more than 12 feet.
  • The structure must be set back at least 10 feet from any property line.
  • The structure cannot be located in a front yard.

If your greenhouse meets these requirements, there is a chance you do not need a permit to build it. However, you may need to get a permit if your local zoning regulations have different requirements. Check with your local building department to be sure.

How much do a building permit and zoning permit cost for a greenhouse?

Getting these permits is not too expensive but they certainly are not cheap either, but if you don’t get the proper permits and meet the rules and regulations of your local area then you will end up being finished a lot more.

A building permit for a greenhouse typically costs between $200 and $1000. The total cost of these permits will depend on the size and location of your greenhouse. If you plan to build a large greenhouse, you may need to obtain a special use permit from your local zoning board.

Who Needs a Permit?

Whether you need a permit to build a greenhouse will differ depending on where you are and which authorities you’re zoned under. It’s impossible to tell any one specific reader, or all readers, whether or not they need a permit to get started building.

That being said, we can give you a few rules of thumb. If you’re living in one of these two areas, you might just find your answer here-

Urban Areas

Most of the time, people living in urban areas are going to need a permit to build a greenhouse. Getting a permit to build can be a lengthy process, and many times it stops potential DIY home-hackers from following their greenhouse dreams. Here’s how you do it:

Usually, you’ll have to appeal to a county organization to get a permit to build a greenhouse. To do this, you’ll have to find your local building department. After this, simply contact them and inquire about getting a building permit.

Urban areas are highly regulated and heavily zoned, meaning that individuals looking to build structures have to live up to some pretty strict regulations. These regulations may have to do with your structure’s:

  • Building quality/integrity.
  • Aesthetic appeal.
  • Building materials.
  • Environmental effects.
  • Height and width.

All of this is to ensure that areas maintain a specific aesthetic appeal, integrity, and level of safety. These regulations are often hard to work around, but if you know them before you start your project, you likely won’t have much trouble. Call your local building department to find out about them.

Suburban Areas

Suburban areas are a little less likely to experience regulations by county entities, although builders living in suburban areas should still call a building department to inquire. Instead, suburban homeowners often run up against their local HOA regulations or neighborhood requirements.

Suburban Areas

Many neighborhoods, just like the urban areas we mentioned, like to keep a tight aesthetic. They want houses to match, they want lawns mowed, and they want hedges trimmed. You may have entered into a contract stating that you would do all of this when you moved into your home.

Just like there might be regulations on how high your grass can be and how close to the street you can build a fence, your neighborhood may have regulations regarding whether or not you can build a greenhouse.

How a greenhouse might affect the aesthetics of your neighborhood, we’re not sure. Neighborhood regulations can be particular, pedantic, and downright pesky. You should check with whatever contracts you may have signed when you moved into your neighborhood to find out if there’s anything extra you need to do before starting the building process.

Things might get a little confusing, and the process may be quite lengthy and aggravating, but, in the end, if you stick it out, you’ll probably be able to find a way to get your project done.

Rural Areas

Rural areas are places like farmland, forested land, and otherwise underdeveloped areas. Usually, they’re sparsely populated and used for things like hunting and farming. People living in rural areas also have the greatest chance of being able to get right to building without needing any kind of permit.

Rural areas have so few regulations regarding building because the demands of agriculture mean that landowners often have to establish new infrastructure to continue with their business. Production would grow much more slowly if every time a farmer wanted to build a barn or a chicken coop he had to apply for a permit and wait for a response from the county. Instead, lots of rural areas take a laissez-faire (hands-free) approach to infrastructure on privately owned land. If you need an agriculture or accessory building, you can probably build it.

 Rural Areas

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put in your research, though. You should still check in with local building officials and see whether or not your area requires building permits. You still, for example, might have to meet certain environmental requirements. We do not recommend building without knowing local regulations.

For really any project, we recommend laying out plans and having an idea of where you’re going to go beforehand. This way, if you have to submit plans to a local building authority, you won’t be blindsided. You’ll just be that much closer to being able to do your work.

What Factors Should I Consider When Planning a Greenhouse?

To meet the regulations in your area, you should probably consider a few factors when you’re still in your planning stage. This is mostly to make sure you don’t have any trouble with building authorities, but also to make sure you’ve got an idea of where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.

First, you might consider the height and width of your greenhouse. Knowing how tall your greenhouse is going to be and how wide it is can help you with a number of things. For one, certain plants need a certain amount of space. Knowing how much space you have going in can help you determine what you can grow.

Knowing the dimensions of your greenhouse will also help you to determine exactly how much material you’re going to be needing to get your greenhouse operational. Trust us, you don’t want to experience having to constantly run back and forth between home and the store.

Not. Fun.

You might also consider the environmental impact of your structure. This is an ethical, legal, and personal concern for some landowners.

For one, you might find yourself bumping up against local regulations if your structure doesn’t conform to them. These regulations are meant to keep the local ecosystem intact and prevent anyone from doing too much damage to the local environment.

From an ethical standpoint- everyone has to live on the land, so why not take care of it? We realize that a greenhouse isn’t likely to hurt anyone that bad, but you’d still be smart to ask what you might need to do before growing or building.

Lastly, environmental concerns are personal as well as ethical. If you have a pond or a stream on your property, for example, you might have to worry about algal bloom.

If you’re using lots of fertilizer in your greenhouse, and your greenhouse is leeching into your property’s water, you may experience algal bloom. Algal bloom is when algae completely overrun a pond or other water source.

Algal bloom happens in the presence of an overabundance of nutrients- think fertilizer. To prevent this from happening, you’re going to want to make sure you’re not leaching fertilizer into your pond. This could completely destroy its ecosystem and all the hard work you might have put into it.

Thus, it’s obvious why you should watch your environmental impact.

All in All

So, Do you need a permit to build a greenhouse? Greenhouses can be a great way to extend the growing season for plants, and they can also provide a place to relax and enjoy nature. If you’re thinking about building a greenhouse, you’ll need to check if you need any permits first.

The size, location, and type of greenhouse you want to construct will determine if any greenhouse building permits are needed. In most cases, you’ll need to get a building permit and a zoning permit. So, before you start construction, be sure to check with your local building department to see what permits are required.

Rob Jones

Rob is an enthusiast of all backyard DIY projects. He has spent many years researching, learning, and building. From a backyard shed to a garden pond, Rob will have done it!

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