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City Says I Have To Pay To Put a Shed On My Property – – So How Do I Get An Ugly Garden Shed Replaced?

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Shawna's back shade garden french potager

Sitting next to my lovely back yard shade French Potager kitchen garden made from found objects and creative shade plants is the ugliest part of my yard yet: yep, it’s the giant plastic shed in the top right-hand corner. Ick. Yuck. Blech.

I have a dream for that particular spot of ugliness in the garden, I dream of building an onsite education center, mini-outdoor office, and shed so I can educate my local community on green lifestyle living by holding classes right in imagemy backyard. For inspiration, I turned to Debra Prinzing’s amazing book, Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways, Big Ideas For Small Backyard Destinations. What amazing and wonderful ideas are to be found inside this book. I was astounded. If you are interested in making your own special niche in the garden, her book is what you should be reading – – I have never seen such creative ideas on special spaces in the garden.

The problem? As many suburban homeowners know – there can be insurmountable challenges related to adding a shed to your lawn because of the city. There are city rules and regulations you must follow, for instance, that says you must pay the city to put up the shed on your own property. I went to the city and asked them if I could replace the current shed. They told me I was not allowed to build a permanent shed or deck on my property without first having it reside at least 10 feet from my back fence and at least 10 feet from the back wall of my home. If my measurements are correct, that means I can have a 10’ X 2’ shed smack in the middle of my yard. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. First, you must file papers, make claims, pay the extra money, and go in front of the city to make this happen. The problem – I have no money to do this.

Any suggestions on how I can have the education center of my dreams that jump out at me just like the gorgeous photos of sheds from Debra Prinzing’s book without paying all that money? I wanna hear your creative thoughts!

Help me with ideas for both design of the shed and how I might conquer the city regulation issues – I would like my dream to come true in 2012.

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  1. I suggest you look into putting up a yurt. Sources can me found on the web. A yurt is not considered a permanent structure so those city ordinances should not apply. Good Luck!

  2. You sure drink a lot by the looks of things ;)). Just knock it down and put a wooden one up and paint it blue, we won,t tell 🙂

  3. Ok, so what about a pergola-type structure — you would just need to have permanence to the poles holding it up — is that considered a problem with the City, too? Just a thought ….

  4. Thanks all.

    I can paint the shed, but it's made of tupperware and I'm not sure it will last through the winter.

    A temporary structure might be the way to go.

    Alex – why would you say such a thing?

    Josette – a pergola that is cemented into the ground is considered permanent.

    Keep the ideas coming!


  5. So how did the original shed get installed with permission where it stands now? And why won't the city allow you to simply replace the existing shed in the existing position since it passed some prior qualifications? Obviously the new shed would have to be free standing – with lots of weight on edges to keep it down in winds. Good luck.

  6. How did the original shed get there in the first place, if it's not allowed to be there? Also, perhaps you could calculate the costs of all the bureaucracy, and do a little fund-raising or crop-barter. Good luck!

  7. I would purchase one of those tents that you see at Farmer's Markets – A large one that can hold several people. You could use it in case of rain or on a sunny day and take down later. Just place a long table and several chairs to do demonstrations. Sometimes, at the end of the day it's is keeping things low overhead that works in the end. I would try that first before investing a lot of money in a more permanent structure. Perhaps when you build a strong client base for demos it may pay to actually build something.

    Also, can you do some of these demonstrations out of a portion of your home? I would check with the city on that as well.

  8. Shawna, perhaps before investing in a permanent structure I would try one of those large tents that they use at the Farmer's Markets. They can easily hold a table and several chairs. Likewise, easily collapsible and easy to store. And then when you have a strong client base for demonstrations you could then look into spending the money to have one built on the property.

    Also, perhaps you could legally use a portion of your home for demonstrations?

  9. I would not have talked to the city. I would have just replaced it. No one would have known unless you have neighbors that would tell on you. If the city comes snoping around just tell them its always been there. 🙂 I believe thats what most americans do.

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    ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

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  13. Look up some portable chicken coops to get ideas on how to make it portable but sturdy. We’ve been looking for chicken coops to build this year, and there are some really fancy ones 🙂 Just use the handle and things on your shed and then hang plants off of them. JUst because YOU can’t or don’t want to pick up a huge fancy shed doesn’t mean it’s not “portable.” Maybe you could cement a base into the ground, and then have poles on the side of your shed that insert into the concrete.

  14. I mean… do the wheels really have to work??? If it has “wheels” it’s not permanent, right?

  15. Are there any rules on REPAIRING an existing shed?
    If not I would “repair” it one wall at a time.
    Actually I would not have even asked the city at all, I would have just BUILT the thing but that’s just me and I HATE stupid zoning ordinances etc.

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