Accessory Structures

A building permit is required to place or build an accessory structure (e.g. storage building, detached carport, garage, pool house, etc.) on your property. An accessory building may not be located in any front yard. An accessory building located in a side yard is only allowed when the zone is an RC, RU-5, or RU-5(2), and then only within certain setback parameters which may be found in the body of the ordinance section. All other residential zones require that an accessory structure be oriented towards the rear of the building (rear yard).

Corner Lots
Corner lots have stringent requirements for location. When your rear or side yard abuts another street, then the street side setback to the accessory building must be equal to or greater than the front yard minimum setback for that particular zone. If the structure is less than 15 feet in height, it can be placed as close as 5 feet to the rear property line. If the structure is over 15 feet in height (accessory structures with a second floor are almost always over 15 feet), then zoning requires a 10-foot minimum to the property line.

Building Permit Requirements
Certain items are required to obtain a building permit for an accessory building, the 1st of which is 2 copies of your site plan. A site plan is an illustration on paper showing the shape of your lot, the relative location of your house within this lot perimeter, and the intended location of the accessory structure you are going to place on your lot. An easy way to arrive at a site plan is to run 2 copies of an existing survey, which you may have in your bank mortgage info, and simply draw in the intended building location.

If the accessory building is 144 square feet or less and less than 12 feet in length on any side, then the only other thing you must do to obtain a permit is to fill out an application and submit it with the 2 site plan copies. If the building is greater than 12 feet length on a side, then 2 copies of structural drawings must also be submitted. These drawings do not have to be prepared by an engineer or architect, but must be accurate and meet NC State Building Code for structural requirements. Do-It-Yourself books purchased in building material stores may be helpful, but are not necessarily written to meet local code requirements.

Unified Development Ordinance
You may wish to read the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) as it pertains to accessory structures. You can find accessory structures in Article 5.4 of the UDO.