Building a Detached Garage, Storage Shed, Gazebo, or Baby Barn?

A Development/Building Permit is required for an accessory building, whether it is a detached garage, storage shed, baby barn, or gazebo. As of June 20, 2013, a building permit is not required for one (1) storey accessory buildings 100 ft2 or less but a development permit is still required.

What type of information is needed for my application?

  • Building size, length and width, and number of storeys.
  • Building foundation – is it on a concrete slab, frost wall or a full foundation?
  • Wall construction – exterior and interior; 2x6 or 2x4 wall studs, siding, insulation?
  • Roof construction – engineered trusses, rafters, shingles, or metal roof?

Please note that the following conditions may apply for garages:

If building on a slab, the maximum size of a detached accessory building/garage is 592 square feet (1 storey). Anything larger requires an engineered slab report.

If using rough lumber, a letter from a licensed lumber grader or engineer is required as per the National Building Code.

What are the rules? How far can I build from property lines?

Section 5.0 of the West Hants Land Use By-law; the General Provisions for All Zones, sets out requirements for accessory buildings and structures as follows:
An accessory building or structure is permitted in any zone and may be used only as an accessory use to the main building or use, but it shall not:

  • be used as a dwelling unit;
  • be built within 6 ft (1.83 m) of the main building
  • be built closer to the street than the main building on the lot except in the Prime Agriculture (P/Ag) zone;
  • be built closer to any lot line than the minimum setback required in the zone for the main building, except that: a) Common garages for semi-detached dwellings may be centred on a mutual side lot line; b) Garages and storage sheds may be built a minimum of 4 ft (1.22 m) from the side and rear lot lines; c) Boat houses and docks may be built to the lot line where the lot line corresponds to the water's edge.

An accessory building or structure may be located in the front yard of a lot but in no case shall be less than 60 ft (18.29 m) from the front lot line.

No accessory building or structure shall be constructed:

  • prior to the time of construction of the main building to which it is accessory, except that a boat house, dock or storage shed may be built prior to construction of a seasonal dwelling only on a lot located in the General Resource (GR) zone; or
  • prior to the establishment of the main use of the land where no main building is to be built.
  • The maximum height of an accessory building shall not exceed 20 ft (6.10 m) except:
  • where a specific zone expressly permits a great height; or
  • where a main building is 2.5 storeys in height or higher, the maximum height of an accessory building shall not exceed two-thirds (2/3) the height of the main building or 30 ft (9.14 m), whichever is less.

For properties in Hantsport, please contact the Development Officer for more information at 902-798-8391 Ext. 115


Please remember construction may not begin until after building and development permits have been issued.


During construction, periodic inspections are required to ensure construction is being done in accordance with the Nova Scotia Building Code Act and Regulations. You are responsible for notifying the Building Official at least 48 hours before an inspection is required.

  • Prior to pouring footings or slab (when footings forms are in place)
  • Footings in place
  • Subfloor plumbing
  • Subfloor and foundation insulation
  • Pre-backfill
  • The framing, roof, plumbing, and mechanical
  • Insulation and vapour barrier before wall framing is covered
  • When complete

Keep in mind that the Building Code is only a set of minimum standards. Our inspections are not a substitute for the care you would normally take if you were doing the work yourself or relying on a contractor.