The short answer: Yes, you need a building permit for a pole barn – most of the time. There are, however, a few exceptions.
If you’re looking to build a pole barn on your property – to use as a shed, garage, workshop, horse barn, agriculture building or residence – you’ll want to get familiar with the entire pole building design and construction process. Even though pole barns are typically less expensive and much faster to build than steel-framed buildings, one step in the construction process remains the same no matter the building materials: building permits.
Let Beehive Buildings Take Care of The Paperwork
At Beehive Buildings, we will automatically handle the building permit for your project in most cases. There are, however, some cities and counties in Utah in which the building permit application process is very involved and time-consuming. In these cases, we are happy to provide the permit application service for a fee or you may go through the application process yourself.
If your building will be used for commercial purposes, you must apply for the building permit yourself. It is often more involved and city or county planning departments require more detailed information for commercial building permits.
No matter whether we submit the permit application or you do, the permit fees are always the responsibility of the owner. The following information can help you know what to expect if you decide to take care of the building permit yourself.
When is a building permit required for a pole barn?
We are often asked, “Do I need a permit to build a shed?” and “Do you need a permit to build a barn?” The answer to those questions can vary depending on the size and use of the building. In many cities and counties in Utah, you do not need a building permit to build a pole barn shed or storage building that is less than 200 square feet. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and building permit requirements vary from state to state.
In most cases, you will be required to fill out a building permit application and pay all applicable building permit fees to build a new structure on your property. One notable exception in Utah is the agricultural use exemption. Agricultural building permit exemptions are common throughout the country, so it’s important to check your own state’s regulations before starting the permit process.
What to Ask Your County or City Planning Department
While not all properties are fit for additional structures, most will accommodate one. Most cities and counties have zoning laws and building codes that dictate what can be built where and how structures can be used. Your area’s setback, easement, height restrictions and lot coverage restrictions can all impact where you can build your pole barn and its final design.
When talking to your local planning department, be prepared to provide the following:
- Your physical address or your property’s parcel number
- A description of what you’d like to build and where on your property you’d like to put your pole barn
- You may need to provide a scaled drawing that details your property lines, neighboring structures, existing structures, septic systems, your proposed building, etc. (This may require an in-person visit to the planning department.)
More often than not, the planning department will be able to tell you over the phone if your proposed pole barn meets local zoning laws, building codes and requirements.
How to Get a Building Permit for Your Pole Barn
The easiest way to start the building permit process is to call your city or county planning department and let them know you need to apply for a permit for an accessory building. It’s important to ask how to apply for a building permit and what documents you need to provide, as some cities and counties have online applications and others require you to bring documents to the planning office.
Commonly required documents include:
- Permit application
- Engineered building plans
- Site plan
- Other documents (as required by the permitting authority)
What happens if I don’t get a building permit for my pole barn?
Permits are cities’ and counties’ way of ensuring that all structures are safe and up to code.
Unless your pole barn is specifically exempt, you could face significant fines and be forced to relocate – or even remove – your pole building if you neglect to obtain a building permit prior to construction. Also, if you plan to sell your property at some point in the future, you will be required to provide proof of permit to maintain property value.
At Beehive Buildings, we require a building permit for all projects, unless exempt by city, county or state law.
Agricultural Exemptions for Building Permits
Many states exempt agricultural buildings from their building permit requirements.
In Utah, an agricultural building may be exempt from the Utah State Construction Code pursuant to Section 15A-1-204 (11), Utah Code Annotated 1953, as a structure used solely in conjunction with agricultural use and not for human occupancy. “Agricultural use” means a use that relates to the tilling of soil and raising of crops, or keeping or raising domestic animals.
While Section 15A-1-204 (11) outlines the state’s general ag exemption, the fastest way to find out if you qualify for the exemption is to call your city or county planning department. Utah’s agricultural exemption varies by city and county as to whether you can get an exemption – and if there is an exemption, it varies further on how much land is required in order to qualify.
What does all that mean?
To put it as simply as possible, pole barns used solely for agricultural purposes may not require a building permit in Utah. You may, however, need permits for any plumbing, electrical or mechanical installations.
How much is a building permit? And how long does it take to get one?
Building permit costs can vary greatly from state to state, county to county and building to building. Location, square footage and even usage can all factor into the cost of a permit. That said, you can expect to pay anywhere between $500 and $1,500 for an average pole barn building permit.
Like cost, the permit timeline can be extremely variable. You can typically expect the permit review process to take 2 to 6 weeks in Utah; though the timeline in other areas of the country may take significantly longer.
If you have any questions about building permits or pole barns in general, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about pole buildings and our services.