Garages & Accessory Buildings

Garages and Accessory Buildings

To construct or perform work on an accessory building—garage, shed, etc.—complete a permit application and submit:  

  • One copy of a sealed mortgage survey without modifications
  • Three sets of construction plans
  • Three site plans indicating size, shape, placement and distance from property lines, and easements of the proposed garage
  • A separate permit is required for electrical service

To schedule an inspection, contact:
Kathy McClintic
Community and Economic Development


Are there height restrictions for my accessory building?

The building height of a garage, shed, or other accessory building must not exceed 16 feet.

Can I add a second accessory building to my property?

An additional accessory building such as a shed or garage is not permitted unless the second structure is constructed at least 25 feet from any other building or structure located on the same lot, and minimum of 5 feet from any property line or easement edge.

Can the size of my accessory buliding exceed my primary house?

No, any detached accessory building shall not have a greater square footage than the principal building on the same lot.

How far away must my accessory building be located from my house?

Detached garages, sheds, or other accessory buildings must be located at least 10 feet from the principal building (your house), located on the same lot or parcel.

How much of my property must be permeable (unpaved)?

At least 40% of your single or 2-family residential property must be permeable open space.  This space shall be landscaped with live plant materials and property maintained to contribute in storm water management.

Is there a limit to how far eaves or overhangs can extend from the structure?

Eaves and overhangs shall not extend more than 6 inches into the required side setback.

What are the construction requirements for accessory buildings?

Wood in contact with concrete must be treated against decay. Bottom plates shall be securely bolted to the slab or foundation.

Frame garages with walls over 10 feet tall shall be built with 2x4 studs placed 16 inches on center.

Wind bracing or corner bracing shall be provided on all walls. Sheets of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) sheathing can be used as diagonal bracing when the nails are 3 inches on center at the perimeter and 6 inches on center into the intermediate studs.

Walls with large openings shall have at least one four-foot wide wind brace panel or have lesser panels that meet the engineering requirements of the Michigan Residential Code, Section R 602.10, or specify products designed to meet the requirements. The 2006 Michigan Residential Code is available at the City of Ferndale Library or the Building Department.

Headers over garage doors shall be of the following minimum sizes:

Headers spanning up to 8' must be doubled 2x10 lumber where rafters or trusses span up to 20 feet perpendicular to the header. Headers spanning over 8' must be 2x12 or engineered lumber.

Garage roof framing can be conventional framing rafters or engineered trusses:

Conventional Rafters shall be placed 16 inches on center. 2x4 rafters may be used on garages up to and including 18 feet in width. Garages over 18 feet wide must have 2x6 rafters. All ridge and hip rafters shall be 2x8 minimum. Ceiling joists and rafters form structural triangles. The ceiling joists must be 4 feet on center or less, securely nailed to the rafters and the top plate of the wall. Collar tie bracing (minimum 1 x6) at 32" on center.

Approved trusses may be used. Manufacturer's shop drawings must be submitted to the Building Department before a permit will be issued. Trusses spaced 24 inches on center require plywood or oriented strand board (OS B) at least 1/2 inch thick.

What are the setback requirements for a detached accessory building?

Detached accessory buildings such as garages or sheds must be located a minimum of 5 feet from any adjoining lot line or up to, but not on, the easement.  

On corner lots and alleys, they shall be located at least 10 feet from the lot line adjacent to the side street or alley.

What does a typical garage plan look like?

Typical Garage Siteplan

Where on my property can I build my garage or shed?

All accessory buildings such as garages or sheds must be built in the rear or side yard.  

If the garage is structurally attached to the property's principal building (your house), it is subject to the principal building's setback regulations and buildings codes.

What are the requirements for foundations and rat walls?

Unattached frame garages and sheds 600 square feet or less shall be built on a concrete slab no less than 4 inches thick and 4 inches wide for a 24-inch rat wall. Anchor bolts (minimum 1/2 inch diameter) shall be set 2 inches above and 7 inches below concrete, 6 feet on center and within 1 inch of corners with 2 anchors minimum (per wall section).

Masonry garages and masonry fronts on frame garages and all structures over 600 square feet must be built on a foundation or footing at least 12 inches wide that extends at least 42 inches below finished grade to undisturbed soil. On all construction attached to and made structurally a part of the residence, a 42-inch foundation or footing is required.

Concrete shall be designed to have a minimum compressive strength of 3,500 pounds per square inch (psi) at 28 days. If air-entrained concrete is used, the ultimate compressive strength may be reduced to 3,000 psi at 28 days.

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