Backyard Storage Sheds

Parent Q&A

Backyard shed Nov 10, 2019 (2 responses below)
Small shed in backyard, now Berkeley wants to call it habitable Dec 6, 2017 (4 responses below)
  • Backyard shed

    (2 replies)

    Hello, we would like to replace our dilapidated backyard shed with something that will actually protect the things we store there. We have no intention of ever using it as an in-law unit or similar, but we would like it to look nice, be insulated and have a lightbulb so it is easy find things. We are open to pre-fab or having one built, would love to hear others' experience on how they made the decision and if they are happy with it. Thanks.

    RE: Backyard shed ()

     I suggest building one as big as you can to take advantage of the space.  However, if you want some a little more modern or custom you can always hire it out/build yourself.  Building a shed is an awesome learning experience on learning carpentry,  a skill that anyone can use for the rest of their lives.

    Check your county codes in Contra Costa County sheds can be up to 120 square feet without building permit as long as they don't have electrical or plumbing.   To insulate it you will need to add some type of wall material such as drywall,  which will be at least another, $1500-$3000, depending on who you hire and how nice you want the finish to be.  Officially to add electrical it can be permitted but if you don't want that you can find an electrician to run exterior electrical conduit in it for some lighting.   

    RE: Backyard shed ()

    Hi - I asked a similar question a few months ago and nobody responded, but now I can tell you what we did! We had ours built by the Shed Shop in Hayward. They offered lots of options and were very easy to work with. Their sheds aren't prefabricated, but they put them together quickly from panels. Since we haven't had it for long I can't advise you about long-term wear, but everyone we dealt with was super professional, friendly, and competent. I'd highly recommend them.

  • We built a shed with a deck off one corner in our yard last year under the requirements for appropriate shed size (under 120 Sq foot). We did not get it permitted because the code in Berkeley says if it is under that size and under 12 foot average height, you do not need to permit it. The shed was then painted with some windows and a large door. Now the city of Berkeley says we can't have a shed be "nonhabitable" if it has windows and a deck. They are considering it "habitable" because of this and want a building permit. There is nothing in the code that says this (if it has a deck or windows it is considered habitable) ANYWHERE. literally nothing. the shed is exactly that, something where our crap is stored, no one sleeps or stays in there, we do not rent it out, we do not spend time in it. But the city wants it permitted as a "habitable" structure because it looks nice and because there is a deck with windows. It is bogus. When we built it we asked all our adjacent neighbors if they were ok with it and everyone said yes.

    The shed will not stand up to building code, it is not built to live in! It would have to be completely remodeled for tens of thousands of dollars if we wanted to do that. Has anyone else dealt with this? We are at a loss. 

    I am not sure who is telling you this since you didn't go through the permit process - an inspector making a spot house call? Weird, and that means yes one of your neighbors reported you. I would contact your councilmember's office for assistance, and include the code section that says under 120 sf is exempt.

    Hi, I'm a GC in Berkeley, build outdoor structures, treehouses, some sheds, decks, etc. I don't know if I can help you right off, I've never heard of the building department (in berkeley or anywhere) come up with such requirements, ie no windows. If I may ask, how did they recome aware of the situation? If you don't know, it sounds like it could have been a neighbor complaining. I build treehouses with windows, as long as they're less than 120sf and not over 12 ft high, I don't worry about it. Very interested in knowing more.

    I'd send them a copy of their own building code and notate that there is nothing in the code about a shed having windows and deck around it, it must be permitted.  Seems unfortunate that the CoB is going to lengths like this to harass people who have tool sheds.

    Wish I were an attorney to give you a more concrete strategy, but like you said, this is bogus.