Accessory Structures and Additions

Learn more about requirements for one- and two-family additions and accessory structures.

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Before Submitting an Application Prepare Application Materials Submittal Instructions Project Review and Permitting Paying Fees

As a homeowner, you may one day find yourself building an addition or accessory structure to your home.

A permit is required regardless of the size of an accessory structure. You will receive either a zoning permit if under 12 feet in any direction (length, width, or height) or a building permit if an accessory structure exceeds 12 feet in any direction (length, width, or height).

Accessory structures include but are not limited to:

  • Detached garages and carports
  • Storage sheds and gazebos
  • Greenhouses
  • Pool houses

Additions include but are not limited to:

  • Converting an unheated to heated space (i.e. converting an attic or basement into a room)
  • Adding new space to an existing structure
  • Adding to the footprint
  • Adding a second floor
  • Enclosing a garage
  • Attached mother-in-law suites
  • Sunrooms
  • Dormers

Before Submitting an Application

Detailed code review will not begin until application submittals have been deemed complete by customer service staff. It is important that all required information is submitted for a project, and it is the applicant’s responsibility to be informed of the prerequisites below: 

  1. You must be registered in the permit portal before you can manage your project, pay fees, or schedule inspections. Learn more about how to register on our portal help page.
  2. All contractor information (General contractor and sub-contractors) must be entered into the portal when submitting the project.
  3. If you are a homeowner acting as the contractor for your project, the Owner Exemption Affidavit is required.
  4. Is your home located in a Historic District or designated as a Raleigh Historic Landmark? If so, you are required to submit a Certificate of Appropriateness to the Raleigh Historic Development Commission (RHDC). Approval from the RHDC may be required prior to submitting your permit application.
  5. If your property contains a private well or septic services, approval from Wake County Environmental Services is required prior to applying with the City of Raleigh.
  6. If you have requested a variance, it needs to be approved by Board of Adjustment.
  7. The property should have a legally recorded map at the Durham or Wake County Register of Deeds.
  8. Your property may be subject to Residential Infill Compatibility standards. To learn more, view the Residential Infill Development webpage.

Prepare Application Materials

The below application forms and supporting documents are required for accessory structures and addition:

  1. Residential Permit Application - This is only required for structures under 12 feet in any direction (length, width, height).
  2. Residential Site Plan Checklist
  3. Residential Permit Data Form
  4. One PDF of Complete Plan Set. File name should be by address. (Example: 123MainStreetPlans.pdf.) 
    1. The Addition and Accessory Structures Checklist is a helpful resource that lists everything you need in your plans.
  5. Provide a survey indicating the proposed work on the property. This can be done in two ways:
    1. A sealed survey showing proposed work - Exhibit A
    2. A sealed survey of existing site conditions and supplemental drawing showing proposed work drawn to scale - Exhibit B
  6.  Elevation drawings
  7. Structural plans

A few important notes:

  • When the seal of a design professional is required, the seal must include a dated, wet signature of the design professional. 
  • Plans must be drawn to architectural scale and submitted with the permit application.
    • Minimum allowable scale: 1/4 inch = 1 foot
    • Minimum allowable sheet size: 8.5 x 11
  • If your property contains a private well or septic services, approval from Wake County Environmental Services is required prior to applying with the City of Raleigh.

Submittal Instructions

At this step, your application materials should be ready to assemble. Please take note of the instructions below, applications that do not meet these criteria will not be accepted:

For Accessory structures exceeding 12 feet in any direction:

  • Apply via the Permit and Development Portal and follow the steps in our helpful online application guide. All application forms and supporting documents must be attached as PDFs. Applicants may add all relevant information and update plans and documents in the portal for the reviews to start quickly.

For Accessory structures under 12 feet in any direction:

  • Submit your completed application and supporting documents to
  • Only PDF file types will be accepted unless other file types (such as image, Excel, or CAD) are specifically called for as part of the application submittal process.
  • .ZIP files are not allowed.
  • Only one file should be associated with each discrete document included with the application package. For example, if an application requires 1) an application form, 2) a set of plans, and 3) a calculation report, you should transmit these as three separate files.
  • City of Raleigh limits email attachments to 30 MB. To send larger files, you may send a file-sharing link (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) to a folder with all required documents. Staff must be given direct access to your files and cannot accept links that require access codes, passwords, or logins.
  • Submit all files (or file-sharing link) via email to  

Tips for Submitting Accessory Structure PDF Files:

  • Submit one PDF file containing a residential permit application.
  • Submit one PDF file containing a residential site plan checklist.
  • Submit one PDF file containing a residential permit site data form.
  • Submit one PDF file contain the entire plan set.
  • Submit one PDF file with all other supporting documents (survey and diagram).
  • All application forms and supporting documents listed above must be attached as PDFs. Please send a PDF of the entire application packet (with all documents) to

Project Review and Permitting

Applicants will be notified by email when a project is processed. Standard review times are available to view online. Plan review comments can be viewed any time via a registered account in the Permit and Development Portal.  

Plans that are ready for permit issuance but have incomplete contractor information will be kept at the Planning and Development Customer Service Center for up to six months. After six months, the plans will be considered invalid, and the application will be voided. An administrative fee may be incurred when projects are voided.

Paying Fees

A Plan Review Fee is due prior to project review. All other permit fees are due when permits are ready for issuance.

The Development Fee Guide provides a detailed list of specific development fees.  

  • The Customer Service Center processes payments or you may pay via the Permit Portal.
  • Payment types include Cash, MasterCard, Visa, or check made payable to the City of Raleigh.

A  fee calculator may be used to obtain an estimate of some building and trade permit fees.



Planning and Development
Customer Service Center


Lead Department:
Planning and Development
Service Categories:
Permits - Residential