Do you need a permit to install a gazebo? This is a common question that keeps many homeowners confused about these hardscapes? We have the answers you need.
The quick answer is, more than likely you need planning permission to install a gazebo. Because they don’t have walls, authorities do not deem them buildings. However, the size and intended amenities actually dictate whether you need a permit. For example, installing an A/C or running water does.
This article covers some of the reasons why you may or may not need to get a permit before constructing a gazebo, be it on commercial or residential land. We will cover placement and height restrictions, utility requirements and various amenities that require planning permissions. Learn the reasons for obtaining permits, the consequences of not getting them when required and the basic steps to applying for the permit.
During my research, I found that many companies don’t give direct answers to the question of do garden gazebos need planning permission. So, it took quite a bit of digging to determine the basic laws and guidelines. These are general rules. Please don’t hesitate to call your local planning division or a professional for help.
When Do I Need Planning Permission to Install a Gazebo?
Since gazebos are covered, yet have no walls, they are technically not buildings. Therefore, in theory, you do not need a building permit. This is especially true if it’s less than 10 feet by 10 feet or 100 square feet in total.
However, adding custom amenities, no matter the size of the gazebo, could require special permits. Some of these gazebo amenities include:
- Running Water
Here are some other factors that determine whether you may or may not need a permit for adding a gazebo hardscape to your landscape:
Some areas require permits to build just about any type of hardscape on your land. On the other hand, other areas do require them based on things like weather conditions.
For example, you may be required to install a strong roof or solid base if you live in a snowy or windy area. Areas that tend to flood a lot may require waterproofing. And if your area is prone to hurricanes and/or tornadoes, your local municipality may require a special way of constructing it so it doesn’t blow away.
That’s why it's so important to check with your local authorities, to be sure. Not getting one before you start building it could cost you fines. And you may have to take it down, which will cost you both time and money.
Height and Placement
In most cases, garden structures do not require planning permission. But there are some instances when they do, especially when it comes to the height of the gazebo and where you want it installed. Here are times when these factors may require approval from your local planning authority:
- Property Line – Can’t be closer than about 6.5 feet from the property’s border
- Height – Must be no more than about eight feet tall
- Note: The height is measured from the ground to the tip of the roof, even if it has a steeple. Keep that in mind when deciding how high the roof itself will be after installation.
Call Before You Dig
Some very basic gazebos require no foundation or footings. However, if your hardscape requires any type of excavating to construct it, you should definitely contact your local utility companies.
In such cases, this is actually the law. Why? Well, during the digging process, you stand the chance of snapping a cable line or breaking a gas main. If this happens, the affected utility company will find out fairly quickly. And you will be liable for any damages to their property, even if it’s on your property, which is very expensive.
So, how do you contact these entities? Here are three main ways:
- Directly – Call each utility company individually, including electric, gas, water, phone and cable companies directly
- Call Before You Dig – Google that phrase for your local area for a one-call answer for all of the above utility companies
- Private Survey Company – They will send someone out to the property to inspect it for hazards that may be hidden near utility lines
How Do You Plan to Use Your Gazebo?
How you plan to use your gazebo may be a factor in certain areas as well. Here are some questions you should have the answers to before applying for planning permissions:
- How tall and wide will it be?
- Will the furniture be permanent fixtures?
- Where do you plan to install it?
- How far away from your main building and property line will it be?
- Do you plan to install plumbing?
- Will it be powered by the sun or electricity?
- How much weight can the roof hold in case of heavy rain or snow?
- Are you planning to install it on a hill?
What Is the Purpose of a Building Permit?
There are laws against doing construction on your property without a permit when your area requires one. The structure automatically becomes a liability, making it almost impossible to legally sell the property or obtain a loan against it.
That’s because appraisers use the records of the County Assessor to evaluate the land and measure its square footage, which must match those records. In such cases, the hardscape will not add value to the property.
If this happens, there may be some consequences, such as:
- Expenses – It is very expensive to obtain permits for work already performed. This is especially true if it’s not built to code and must be torn down and rebuilt to pass inspection.
- Demolition – If the work was done incorrectly or the gazebo was constructed poorly, you may have to demolish it altogether. This is also the case if it was installed too close to the main structure or a utility line.
Therefore, it makes sense to obtain planning permission before the work begins. Your permit ensures that the gazebo is:
- Installed Properly
- Safely Constructed
- Legally Erected
How to Apply for a Gazebo Permit
Gazebos are considered accessory buildings. These are detached or attached outdoor structures, such as (but not limited to):
- Storage Buildings
- Pool Houses
- Private Studios
The rule of thumb for accessory buildings is that they are exclusively used by the occupants or owners of the main structure or home. In most cases, the law dictates that they can’t be used as living space, sleeping quarters or commercial vehicle storage.
To apply for an accessory building permit, you’ll need to provide various documents along with your application. This is what you may need to submit when applying:
- The completed application
- Images of plans for the structure
- Damage resistance plans
- A site plan, including:
- Distance from other structures
- Intended dimensions
- Planned amenities
Enjoying Your New Gazebo Hardscape
A gazebo offers shade, making it an excellent place to hang out in your yard while enjoying the view. It allows you to relax and provides shelter from things like snow and rain. But oftentimes, they do require permits, especially if you plan on installing a structure with high-tech amenities.
Weather conditions vary from area to area. So, always keep yours in mind when planning a DIY gazebo build. You want to be sure the roof and the structure itself will withstand your area’s harsh conditions if you have any.
Depending on where you are located, your hardscape structure may require state and country planning permissions. You may also need multiple permits, depending on how you plan to use the gazebo and what other structures you plan to install.
Does the entire process sound too complicated for you? Then, be sure to contact a local landscaping specialist or contracting company for assistance. They apply for permits all the time and know exactly what you need and how to get it.
About THE AUTHOR
Kiesha Joseph is an avid gardener dedicated to simple urban gardening on a budget. She enjoys sharing her Zone 9B Inland Empire, California experiences, as well as inexpensive DIY landscaping techniques. She loves experimenting in the garden, even if the project seems to be a failure. According to her, she does not learn from her successes. She learns from her failures. And that’s why she is determined to keep experimenting.Read more about Kiesha Joseph