Shed Permits in TN: Complete Guide

shed with building permit in Tennessee

Not sure what building permit regulations apply to you in TN? This article should simplify the guidelines and help you understand how Tennessee building codes work especially with shed permits. 

Included is a table listing many counties that have opted out of having building codes, and a table listing some places where you need a state residential building permit (rather than local).

We would also love to help you find that perfect customized shed you have been looking for! Go check out our different kinds of high-quality sheds and their customizable options!

Do I need a shed permit in Tennessee?

The building codes of Tennessee vary greatly on a local level. According to the state building codes, shed permits are not required if no one will be living in the shed. But many local jurisdictions in TN have adopted different building codes that might require you to get a shed permit. Some jurisdictions may not have any building codes at all, requiring no permits for any type of shed. Therefore, it is very important that you check your local government building codes (and your county government building codes if you live in an unincorporated area, meaning you have no local government).

Chances are, if you have already done any research on what your local building permit requirements are, you are probably confused. Here’s a clear breakdown!

So how do the building codes (permit requirements) in Tennessee work?

Here is a visual representation of how building codes work in Tennessee. Continue reading down below for even more details.

visual diagram flow chart of how building codes work in tennessee

Simplified, here is a rough guideline of how Tennessee building codes work. Tennessee’s state government has a State residential building code that all county and city governments are subject to unless they either vote to opt out or are given an exemption (meaning they enact their own building code instead). 

If you’re interested, here’s another article that further explains the state residential building permit requirements.

If they opt out, that county/city simply does not have any building codes (and therefore does not require permits). However, every 180 days, this opt out status must be renewed or it becomes  invalid, and the state code will be applied to that area. 

A county/city government can also get an exemption from the state and make their own building codes. This has to be approved by the state. It is then the local government’s responsibility to enforce the codes.

If the local jurisdiction does not opt out or make their own building code, then they are automatically only subject to the state residential building code and the state will begin enforcing their codes.

Some areas of Tennessee are unincorporated, meaning that they don’t have local governments. In these cases, they are simply subject to their county’s building codes. The county can choose whether or not to opt them out of the local county or the state building codes. City and county governments act independently of each other when it comes to building codes. For example, a county may have no building codes at all while one of the cities in that county choses to make and enforce their own set of building codes. Or, a county may have chosen to make their own residential building code, while most of the cities chose to opt out or follow the state code.

If you want to learn more, here are answers to frequently asked questions about how building codes work between jurisdictions and the state.

shed with building permit in Tennessee

Counties/Cities that have no residential building code

Here is a list of many local governments (mostly in central Tennessee) that we could find that have opted out of the state building code. Keep in mind that different city governments in the county may have chosen to make their own codes or remain under the state codes. This list may not be exhaustive.

Benton CountyMinor HillLewis county
Big SandyGrundy CountyMoore County/Lynchburg
AuburntownAltamontPerry County
Carroll CountyBeersheba SpringsLinden
Cocke CountyGruetli-LaagerPickett County
Decatur CountyTracy CityPolk County
DowelltownHenry CountyScott County
VanleerHouston CountyStewart County
Fentress CountyHumphreys CountyVan Buren County
Franklin CountyJackson CountyWayne County
ArdmoreLawrence county
sheds with building permits in Tennessee

Cities where a State Building Permit is required

AlexandriaDecaturvilleHickory ValleyMilledgevilleSunbright
AllardtDoyleHollow RockMitchellvilleTellico Plains
Bean StationDresdenHornsbyNewbernTennessee Ridge
BentonEastviewIron CityNiotaToone
Bethel SpringsElktonJellicoNormandyTrimble
Bluff CityEnvilleLaFolletteParker’s CrossroadsWatertown
CliftonGibsonLouisvilleRed Boiling SpringsWinfield
Cottage GroveGuysMcKenzieSaulsbury
Crab OrchardHallsMcLemoresvilleScotts Hill

Counties whose Unincorporated Areas require State Building Permit

shed with shed permit in Tennessee

Do I need a shed permit in Shelby County, TN?

Yes, you need a shed permit for any shed in Shelby County regardless of size or cost. However, remember that depending what city limits you may live in, the building codes may be different. Remember to check your local city government as well (if applicable).

Here’s another site you can explore for more detailed information on shed/building permits in Shelby County, TN.

Do I need a shed permit in Davidson County, TN?

If your shed is larger than 10×10 square feet in Davidson County, TN, then you will need to get a residential building permit. If you are planning to convert or use it as a living space later, you will need to get a different permit. Do not forget to check if your local city government has different building codes provided that you live in city limits.

More detailed shed and building permit requirements for Davidson County, TN can be found in these articles.

Do I need a shed permit in Knox County, TN?

If it is more than 120 square feet, you only need a residential building permit for a shed in Knox County, TN. Again, if you live in city limits, check what the status of their building codes are.

Get even more details on the building permit requirements in Knox County by reading these pages.

shed with building permit in Tennessee

How much does a shed permit cost in Tennessee?

The basic state residential building codes are based on construction costs. For example, the fees begin at $100 when construction costs range from $0-$5,000, and are at $1,750 when construction costs range from $1,450,000 to $1,500,000.

As shown, the residential building permit fees vary greatly depending on the local building codes. Additional fees are added when electric and plumbing are present. For more information check out this guide and table of the state residential building permits fees.

How long does it take to get a building permit in Tennessee?

It usually takes anywhere from 5-10 business days to get a residential building permit in Tennessee.

Can a homeowner pull a permit in Tennessee?

Yes, a homeowner can generally pull a permit in Tennessee.

Can you get a building permit online in Tennessee?

Yes, usually you can get a residential building permit for your shed online, or at least be able print the application to fill out manually. Occasionally, smaller local governments require you to contact them directly, although it is not common. Here is a link to where you can get a Tennessee state residential building permit application.

sheds with building permits in Tennessee


Getting a residential building permit for your shed can be complicated; hopefully we were able to clear up the permit confusion and give you a clear path forward! If you are looking for affordable sheds that perfectly fit your needs and style, we may have what you are looking for. Go check out our customizable sheds, garages, and cabins! Or, try your hand at designing your own custom- built shed in our 3D Shed Designer! And if you’re hungry for more permit information, read our article on tiny home regulations in KY.