Building a shop on your land - What to watch out for



    Sometimes a shop building is a nice thing to have, whether you plan to use it for storing lawn equipment, vehicle maintenance, as a garden shed, or for any other hobby or practical purpose. Whether you're building just a shop, or building a shop while building a home on your land, it's important to do it right!

    Here are a few tips for what to watch out for when building a shop on your land.

    Get a building permit

    Twice in the past year I've seen my customers try to build a shop without a permit, and both times the city caught them and forced them to re-do a bunch of work either because the work wasn't sufficient or the inspector wasn't able to inspect it early enough in the process.

    Be aware of utility easements and building setbacks

    Not all of your land is entirely yours when it comes to building an additional structure. Some areas have setbacks recorded on a plat of a subdivision. Even on non-platted acreage, there can be restrictions on how close to a property line you can build something.

    Also watch out for utility easements. I've seen a shop building that had to be torn down because it was too close to a high-pressure gas pipeline easement. If you're unsure, hire a licensed land surveyor to map it all out for you.

    Ask the right questions if hiring a contractor

    If you're hiring someone to do the work, like a contractor who does metal buildings, make sure he/she gets the appropriate permit(s) and the appropriate inspection(s). You don't want to be forced to tear it down after you've paid the contractor because the city says it wasn't done right.

    Plan ahead for utilities

    Will you need electricity? You'll need to hire a licensed electrician to look at the plans and the existing infrastructure to see how best to get electricity to the shop. You might have to get the electric utility company involved.

    Plumbing? If the shop will have a bathroom or any kind of drain, you'll want to plan out how that waste water is going to get to the sewer or septic. If your shop is 100 feet from the septic tank and the tank is only 18 inches below the level of the shop, you won't have enough slope on the pipe for it to work properly.

    Think about future needs

    Maybe you're not planning on having electricity or water in the shop now, but should you plan for future expansion? It's a lot cheaper to plan in advance, such as roughing in plumbing supply and drain lines or adding conduit to pull electrical wires later, than it will be to add all that stuff down the road.

    If you're building a house on your land and think a shop or barn is in your future, figure out how much of the work your home builder could do for you while building the house. Maybe he or she could pour the foundation or slab so it'll be ready when you decide to build the shop. It's even possible he could build the whole shop for you while building the house, which saves you both time and money.

    Want even more info about building on your land? Download our free guide:

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