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Building Requirements for a Shed in Madera County, California

Eric Jay Toll

If your house and garage are piled high with "stuff," it's probably time to build a shed for extra storage. When living in Madera County, California, the county's Building Department can issue you the necessary permits to build that shed, provided basic building code requirements are satisfied. The requirements for a shed in Madera County are reasonably cut-and-dried and come from the International Building Code (IBC) adopted by the County as its building code.


Any shed totaling 120 square feet or less without gas, water or electricity hookups meeting building setbacks and separation requirements can be constructed without a permit. Agriculture sheds and buildings are also exempt from Madera County building permit requirements.

Prebuilt Sheds

Choosing a prebuilt shed or a shed kit makes erecting the shed a lot faster. Building-supply dealers and shed manufacturers maintain a file of Madera County building requirements. Sellers who deliver and/or erect the shed normally deal with all of the setback requirements if the shed is exempt, and meet all of the County regulations if a building permit is required.


Selecting the site, size, and utilities for the shed is the first step. A plan needs to be drawn showing how far from property lines the shed is to be located. Non-exempt sheds may need to be as little as 5 or possibly 20 or more feet from a property line, depending on the zone. If utilities are to be connected, the drawing must show how the utilities will connect from the main house to the shed.

Building Plans

To build a custom shed, you'll need to submit building plans to the county showing the foundation system, typical wall construction, and location of doors and windows. If utilities are to be installed, separate mechanical, electrical, and plumbing drawings can be required. Stamped engineering drawings of the building's trusses are also required. Calculations must show that the building can withstand severe weather conditions.

Obtaining the Permit

Assemble plans and specifications and take everything to the Madera County Building Department in the city of Madera or Bass Lake. In many cases -- especially if there are no utility connections -- the County can issue the building permit while you wait. If the shed has design complexities or exceeds maximum shed area for the zone, the permit application will be reviewed by the staff prior to approval.


Building permits require inspections at specific stages -- for the foundation, framing, rough wiring, rough plumbing, siding, and sheetrock -- as may be applicable to the design. Building beyond an inspection point without approval can result in requirements to rebuild portions of the building. Building inspectors normally respond to inspection requests within two business days. A final inspection is also required to close the building permit with a certificate of occupancy.