Accessory Structures

A Residential Accessory Structure is a detached building, like a shed or detached garage that is on the same lot as a single- or two-family home, but is used for a different purpose.

Accessory Structures with any dimension greater than 12’ require a building permit and must meet the current North Carolina Residential Code. Accessory Structures that DO NOT have a dimension greater than 12', still require a Land Use Permit from Wake County Planning & Zoning. Please contact them at 919-856-6335. 

Acquiring a permit for a new Residential Accessory Structure requires submittal of a completed application for a residential building permit using the Wake County Permit Portal, a site plan containing the items listed below under Site Plan Requirements (see a Site Plan Example here) and building plans with the information listed below under Residential Plan Submittal Requirements. If the property is served by an onsite wastewater system (septic) the location of the new footprint of the Residential Accessory Structure must be checked to ensure that the location of the structure does not impact and maintains the required setbacks from the current wastewater system, its repair area and any on-site wells.

A field consultation fee and a site visit by Environmental Services staff may be required for these services. The process will begin along with the application for the building permit.                            

Reminder: A Certificate of Occupancy is required before occupancy of the Residential Accessory Structure is allowed.

To permit a residential accessory structure you will need to submit

·       A completed application using the Wake County Permit Portal. You will be required to first set up an account using an email address and password. You will be sent a confirmation email from the Permit Portal with a link to verify your email address. When this step is completed you are now ready to apply for your building permit. 
·       A site plan meeting all of the specifications listed below in Site Plan Requirements. See a Site Plan Example.
·       Building plans detailing the work to be performed. The building plans shall detail the construction in accordance with the Residential Plan Submittal Requirements listed below as it applies to the particular project.
·       A certificate of workers' compensation insurance or a completed affidavit of workers compensation exemption form for contractors.
·       A completed and notarized affidavit owner contractor form for any project over $30,000 where an owner is listed as the general contractor.
·       An Appointment of Lien Agent where the project cost is $30,000 or more. Website: Liens NC

Site Plan Requirements:
A preliminary site plan is required before permits are issued. A final (as-built) site plan may be required prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy. A good resource for a site plan is a survey issued for a recent mortgage or refinance closing. See a Site Plan Example.
A site plan includes the entire lot, drawn to scale, with the following:
·        Lot lines with dimensions and road frontage shown.
·        All existing and proposed buildings and structures with overall dimensions and, for proposed buildings and structures, the distance measured from the nearest fixed reference points (such as property lines, lot corners, existing building/structures, etc.) that can be used to precisely locate the proposed building/structures should be clearly shown.
·        Existing and proposed driveways, parking spaces, patios, pool decking, and walkways with width and surface material identified.
·        Where known, existing or proposed well, septic tank and drain field location(s) or sewer and water easements and proposed connection location(s).
·        All water features including ditches, easements, buffers, and flood hazard areas (FEMA or Flood prone soils).
·        The location, type and relevant dimensions and capacities of storm water management structures, associated easements and other devices.
·        All existing and proposed impervious surfaces clearly itemized and listed in square feet and as a percentage of the net lot size. This can be shown on the site plan or an attached Impervious Surfaces Calculation Worksheet
·        Parcel identification number (PIN), address of property, north arrow, scale of the site plan, bar scale, and date map prepared (and any revision dates). 
·        If parcel is less than 5 acres, scales of 1" = 20', 30', 40', 50', 60' or 100' are acceptable on paper no larger than 11" x 17".
·        For a parcel of 5 acres or more, scales of 1” = 100’, 200’, 300’, 400’ or 500’ are acceptable in addition to the scales listed above and may be on any size paper.  If the paper is larger than 11” x 17”, or the scale is smaller than 1”=100’, an inset or separate sheet must also be provided showing the proposed construction at a scale of 1” = 20’, 30’, 40’, 50’, 60’ or 100’.
·        As-built surveys must be labeled as such, be completed by a Professional Land Surveyor and include all the above.  The date the as-built is prepared must be on or after the initial building final.
Further information regarding requirements of the Storm water Programs may be obtained from Wake County Environmental Services at 919-856-7400. 
**These are minimum requirements.  Special circumstances or small lots may necessitate further requirements**

Residential Plan Submittal Requirements:

Minimum requirements for residential building plans submitted to Wake County Plan Review. All plans are required to be designed to meet the 2018 North Carolina Residential Code.
This is a minimum plan review checklist, additional information may be added by the applicant or requested in the field to determine compliance (e.g., I-joists hole cutting chart/booklet). Permit holders remain responsible for meeting all code requirements regardless if a review item or not. This minimum review checklist is intended to help prevent any major non-compliance issues from being built in the field which typically results in significant cost and delays on a project.

All plans submitted for permitting are required to match site plan layouts exactly, including I-Joist, floor and roof truss layouts. 


  • Drawings to scale (minimum 1/8")
  • Minimum plan size: Minimum 11x17; small structures 8.5" x 11" if legible
  • Energy code requirements. Insulation, floors, walls and ceilings

Elevations / Floor Plans

  • Front, sides and rear elevations
  • Building height, mean roof height and story height
  • Roof pitches
  • Rooms labeled as to their intended use. Please do not use bonus, flex or office
  • Mark all unheated / unfinished areas
  • Room, hallway and stair dimensions
  • Window and door sizes and locations
  • Label and show all fireplaces, prefab or masonry

Foundation / Floor Framing

  • Wall footing width and depth, reinforcement if required
  • Foundation wall type, size and reinforcement if required
  • Pier footing size width and depth, reinforcement if required
  • Pier sizes and solid cap
  • Slab footings and layouts for mono-slabs
  • Slab thickness and details, reinforcement if required
  • Anchor bolt details
  • Crawl space ventilation calculations or closed crawl space marked on plans
  • Crawl space access size
  • Girder size, number of members, species, grade and spans
  • Floor joist direction, size, on-center spacing, species, grade and spans
  • If using I-Joist, plans or layout will need to list manufacturer, series, size and on-center spacing.
  • If using open web floor trusses, layout from manufacturer required.
  • Floor sheathing type and thickness

Wall & General Framing

  • Wall stud size, on-center spacing, species and grade
  • Wall header size, number of members, species, grade and spans
  • Number of jack and king studs for each opening
  • Beam type or species/grade, size, number of members and span
  • Stud column size, number of members, species and grade for beams and point loads
  • Wall sheathing type and thickness
  • Wall bracing method used
  • Portal / narrow wall bracing detail, if required
  • Point loads marked with load path and blocking requirements

Roof Framing

  • Roof rafter plan or layout from manufacturer if using engineered roof trusses
  • Roof rafter direction, size, on-center spacing, species, grade and spans
  • Collar ties and rafter ties size and spacing
  • Ridge board, hip and valley sizes
  • Ceiling joist direction, size, on-center spacing, species, grade and spans
  • Roof sheathing type and thickness
  • Roof vent calculations or marked as unvented
  • Attic access size and location
Note: All structural information must comply with North Carolina Residential Building Code, current edition. Structural elements not found in North Carolina Residential Code must be sealed by a professional engineer or architect registered in the State of North Carolina or comply with other professionally recognized evaluation services, such as NES.

Wake County Departments & Agencies: