Shed/Detached Garage

Minimum distance of 3 to 10 feet - depending on the square footage of the lot.


  • If less than 200 square feet - $20 (No U&O or inspection required-zoning certificate is required)
  • If more than 200 square feet - $0.05/square foot ($25 minimum) plus $10 U&O fee (building permit required)


  • Shed: Detached storage building, not intended for storage of motor vehicles such as automobiles, trucks, motor homes, etc.
  • Garage, detached private: structure intended to store or park four or fewer passenger motor vehicles.
Shed/Garage/Barn Diagram


  • Shed: May be on the property in any location that complies with the local zoning restrictions for that property.
  • Garage: May be on the property in any location that complies with the local zoning restrictions for that property.  When located closer than 5 feet to any property line, the Building Code requires exterior walls of the structure be designed and built with a one-hour fire resistance rating. Floor construction must be noncombustible.

Foundation requirements

Options for sheds

  • 6 - 8 inch bed of crushed stone on a well drained building site
  • 4 inch concrete pad on 4 inches of crushed stone (building site must be well drained)
  • Frost protected footing and foundation of masonry as piers or a continuous wall

Options for garages

  • Frost protected foundation (30 inches below final grade)


  • Sheds: Sheds constructed of lightweight materials (plastic/aluminum) require anchorage to resist tip over in high wind situations as per manufacturer installation instructions.
  • Garages: Provide foundation anchorage with 1/2-inch diameter anchor bolts embedded not less than 8 inches in poured concrete walls and 15 inches in grouted unit masonry walls. Anchors may not be spaced more than 6 feet apart and need to be placed within 12 inches of all foundation corners. Each section of plate will have a minimum of two anchors. Approved anchor straps may be substituted when installed and spaced per the manufacturer's recommendations.


Application is made at the Harford County Permit Center (410-638-3122). Fill in required area of the application, print, sign, and date the bottom. Bring three copies of the site plan and two sets of construction plans (prebuilt or under 200 square feet, no construction plans needed). Note: Most permits are valid for one year from issuance. If the work is not completed by that date, please call 410-638-3122.


Bring in three copies of your survey (drawing of your property, also known as a site plan). To the scale of the survey, draw your proposed shed/detached garage. If your property is serviced by a well and/or septic, it will be helpful if you can also identify their location on your survey. If you do not have a scale, a planning assistant will help you as long as you can provide size, location of the structure, and the distances from all your property lines to the structure. If you do not have a survey, you may draw this yourself or have someone else draw it for you as long as the drawing is accurate and to scale.

Construction plans

Bring with you two sets of detailed construction plans. These plans must show how you will be constructing your shed/garage (a cross section (framing), floor plan, foundation/footing and elevation detail). If you have building code questions, please call the Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits (DILP) plan review at 410-638-3022. If you are hiring a Maryland Home Improvement Contractor (MHIC) you will be required to submit the above mentioned construction plans. You will also be required to bring a copy of the signed contract you have with your contractor. All sheds/garages require construction plans regardless of whether or not you will be using a Maryland Home Improvement Contractor.


If you have purchased the property within the past two months, you will need to bring a copy of a signed deed to prove ownership change.

Letter of authorization

If you (the applicant), are not the current property owner, you will need a letter of authorization, signed by the property owner, giving you permission to apply for the permit.


For property serviced by a well and/or septic, your permit processing time will be approximately 10 business days. Property serviced by public water and sewer will be issued either the same day or, in the case where plans are to be reviewed, allow up to 10 business days. If you will be installing electric in your garage, as soon as your building permit has been issued, your electrician will be able to file for the electrical permit. Call the Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits at 410-638-3363/3364 for fees.

For setback requirements from your well and/or septic (if applicable), please call the Health Department at 410-877-2300.


Inspections will be required during certain phases of your construction. The property owner is responsible for all required inspections, please talk to your contractors to confirm that they will be scheduling the inspections. To schedule or verify inspections, please call:
  • Building Services at 410-638-3366/3367
  • Electrical Services at 410-638-3363/3364


Electrical inspections must be called in by the contractor. Most permits are valid for one year from issuance. If the work is not completed by that date, please call 410-638-3122.

Use & Occupancy Certificate

Upon completion of all final inspections you will receive a Use and Occupancy Certificate (U&O) from DILP. Call 410-638-3305 for inquiries or check online. This is the final step to your permitting process. The U&O Certificate is proof that all required inspections have been approved and you may now use the new structure.

Special conditions

Below are a few special conditions that could affect your property. We will make every attempt to address your questions but we may not be aware of some conditions until you come into our office.
  • Easements
  • Floodplain
  • Forest retention
  • Natural Resource District (NRD)
  • Setbacks (distance from structure to property lines)
  • Size and height restrictions
Please contact a Planning Assistant at the Harford County Planning and Zoning Department:
220 S. Main Street
Bel Air, MD 21014
Phone: 410-638-3122

Note: Building permits must be secured for all residential accessory structures prior to starting construction. Prefabricated sheds require permits prior to placement on the property.