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California builidng code exceptions for storage sheds?

Posted by radius11 z9 SFBay (My Page) on
Sun, May 24, 09 at 19:46

I live in an unincorporated portion of Contra Costa County, in the SF Bay Area, in California.

What I am having a devil of a time coming up with are building permit exceptions for storage sheds.

It has been suggested and alluded to that I may get around the typical 120 square foot limit of a storage shed, which requires no permit, as laid out in the building code information I can find, by simply calling the project/shed something else (i.e. bee shed, fruit storage building, etc.) The shed I need is 140 square feet, which I want to use for drying of pears and tool/tractor storage/maintenance, and very much wish to avoid having to pull a permit. The people in the planning department, naturally, will not give any information on something like this, nor will the contractors I've spoken with, though they do indicate it is possible. Does anyone know the particulars of such an issue?

Much appreciate any assistance.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: California builidng code exceptions for storage sheds?

What would be the advantage of not getting a permit??
Could sure save you a lot of hassles.
Since all cities vary on these things you need local advice.
I built an "aviary" without permit. Ran afoul of "Keeping fowl with city limits"lol Ended up the birds were not "fowl" but "caged birds" So ended up with "Trellis with bird structure" So legal but can't call it an aviary lol gary

RE: California builidng code exceptions for storage sheds?


Go to the Costra County website. Click on the tab at the top of your screen labeled "Government" then "Ordinance."

Then, go down to Title 7; Building Regulations and Title 8; Zoning.

If your county follows the norm; the legal size and use of any structure on your property will be regulated by the zoning and legal usage of the zoning that was on the title at the time you bought it, and neither is related to the building codes.

Your county may have it's own building codes, or may have adopted BOCA, or the State of California has its own and requires all lesser units of government in CA to adhere to them, but in any case; building codes only regulate how different structures must be constructed, regardless of the zoning.

So I believe that what you are seeking isn't an exception to building codes, which are specific to human health and safety and therefore, no exception can be allowed- but a zoning variance, to allow you to erect a structure on your property that exceeds the total size allowed for your zoning.

However; you wrote: "The people in the planning department, naturally, will not give any information on something like this"

Beg pardon, but that's what they are being paid to do. If the planning dept. people didn't know what's in the ordinances they are being paid to administer, or direct you to the right dept. to address your needs, which I'm guessing to be zoning, not planning; call the zoning dept. if there is one and if you still can't get any answers- pay a call on your local county representative.

Addressing their constituents' needs is what they were elected to do and when asked for help; most will comply.

RE: California builidng code exceptions for storage sheds?

Did you ever answer this question? I'm wondering the same thing in unincorporated Alameda county. Nobody seems to know, and the best I could get from the county building department when I asked them what was legal was that I should "just apply for a permit to be safe." FYI, in Alameda county, sheds can't have electricity or plumbing.

RE: California builidng code exceptions for storage sheds?

As I suggested in a concurrent thread, it is the type of foundation that is usually the key. Whatever you call the structure, it becomes "permanent" if it has a concrete slab foundation, typically requiring a building permit. A "temporary" structure may not be subject to code - for instance, a foundation of treated timber and a gravel/paver floor is considered 'temporary.'

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