Sheds and Other Detached Accessory Structures


For more information on Detached Accessory Structures or other zoning approval requirements, email [email protected] or call (703) 792-6830 (TTY: 711).
To apply for zoning approval for a detached accessory structure on a commercial site:
  • shed.jpgAccessory structures on commercial sites must be shown on an approved Prince William County site plan.
  • Contact the Department of Development Services (703) 792-6830 (TTY: 711) for information on how to apply for site plan approval.
To apply for zoning approval for a detached accessory structure in residential and agricultural zoning districts the following is required:
  • A processing fee. Payable by cash, check or credit card. Fee Schedule
  • No application form is required.
  • A Special Power of Attorney Affidavit is required if the applicant is not the property owner or a registered Prince William County contractor.
  • For one story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, or similar uses, over 256 square feet in size, a building permit is required in addition to zoning approval (for all other structures regardless of size, click here or contact Department of Development Services, Building Plan Review, (703) 792-4040 (TTY: 711).
  • Applicant must submit three (3) copies of a house location survey plat with the proposed structure drawn to scale. Plat must be to scale and clearly show the surveyor's seal, signature and scale used. Approved lot grading plans are only acceptable if the house is under construction and a house location survey plat has not been prepared.
  • Applicant must provide all dimensions for the structure, setbacks to the property lines, the height and number of stories, and the proposed use of the structure.
  • Detached accessory structures are not permitted in easements, buffers, Resource Protection Areas (RPA). If located in a Resource Protection Area, written approval from Public Works, Watershed Management (703) 792-7070 (TTY: 711) is required.
  • Detached accessory structures must be located at least five feet from the house, and cannot be connected to the house by means of a breezeway, walkway or other structure not at grade.
  • Detached accessory structures cannot be used as a dwelling, and may not be used as part of a home business or home occupation.
  • Lot size and zoning district must be verified prior to zoning approval.
  • Detached accessory structures are subject to Section 32-300.03 of the Zoning Ordinance, which includes the following provisions:

For lots of three acres or less:

  • The cumulative building area allowed for all detached accessory structures is 576 total square feet, or 30 percent of the total square footage of the house (see the Real Estate Assessment website for floor area of the house for individual lots).

  • Detached accessory structures can only be located in the side or rear yards.

  • If located in the side yard, the structure must maintain the same setbacks as for the principle structure in that zoning district.

  • If located in the rear yard, the structure must be at least five feet from the side property line, and five feet from the rear property line. If the property is a corner lot, the structure must be a minimum of 20 feet from the side property line adjacent to the side street.

  • Maximum height is 18 feet (except as noted below for Townhouse lots and R-16/R-30 districts).

  • For two-level detached structures, the square footage for both levels will be included when determining the maximum allowable building size.

For lots larger than three acres:

  • Detached accessory structures must maintain the same setbacks as for the principle structure in that zoning district.

  • Lots larger than three acres are not subject to maximum floor area for detached accessory structures.

  • Detached structures can be located in any yard (front, side, or rear).

  • Maximum height is 35 feet.

For townhouse lots:

  • For townhouse units in the R-6, RPC, PMD and PMR zoning districts, the following standards shall apply:

    • Detached accessory structures are allowed in the rear yard only, and can be located up to the rear property line.
    • Detached structures may cover no more than 50 percent of the total rear yard area.
    • For end-unit townhouses, a 10’ exterior side yard setback is required.
    • Maximum height is 12 feet.

For lots zoned R-16 and R-30:

  • Detached accessory structures must be set back at least 10 feet from all property lines.

  • Maximum height 15 feet.