Phil was one of the first people to buy the Sonoma Shanty plans. He has been building a shanty as a way to learn construction skills. This first Sonoma Shanty is a simple shed, his next one will be much more detailed.
This one is built in Southern California. His second one he plans to build on the Northern California coast in the Shelter Cove region. He still has trim to install so the shanty appears rough at this time. He has documented with photos his build and you can learn a lot from it. Enjoy and thank you Phil for sharing these with us.
To view all the pictures go to the Sonoma Shanty Pictures tab above and view the gallery.
When is a building permit not required? How do I know what I can and cannot build? How do I find out this information?
First and most important thing to know is that each location is different, there are no set standards across the country so you need to check with your local County and City authorities. Thankfully much of this information is now online and you can do your research without talking to anyone.
I live in Sonoma County in Northern California. Here are the steps I went through to discover what the requirements were for building without a permit.
- I Googled “Sonoma County” and found their web site
- Than I did a searched on Permits on the Sonoma County website
- Clicked on Forms and Applications
- Found the form “When is a Building Permit Not Required?”
Not every county will be the same so this is just an example of how to start looking for the information. Here is the information I found doing this research:
WORK EXEMPT FROM A BUILDING PERMIT
The following is a list of work that may be performed without a building permit. If your project does notappear on this list of exempt work, you should assume that a building permit is required.
Note: Although some work is exempt from a building permit, additional permits or review may be required. Before a building or structure is erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished, it is important to contact the appropriate staff at the Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD) to determine if any other permit or technical review is required.
Although work may be exempt from a building permit, it may be subject to other county regulations (Well and Septic, Zoning, Drainage, Sewer, etc.). Although a building permit is not required, the exempt construction/work must be code compliant. For example, re-striping a commercial parking lot is exempt from a building permit, however, the striping must conform to building code standards for accessibility and Zoning standards for parking lot design. Failure to comply with code requirements may constitute a violation.
- Accessory Structures: One-story detached accessory structures used as tool or storage sheds, playhouses or similar uses when located on a parcel which contains an existing single family dwelling or other permitted primary use or structure. Such structures shall not have a floor area that exceeds 120 square feet and the height above grade shall not exceed 12 feet. No more than one structure may be allowed under this exemption unless separated from another permit exempt structure by more than 50 feet.
Note: Electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work in connection with such structures requires an electrical, plumbing or mechanical permit even though a building permit is not required for the structure itself.
To read the complete document go to When is a Building Permit Not Required?
This document tells me that I can build up to a 120 square foot structure without a permit. It can’t be higher than 12 feet and if I choose to put in electrical or plumbing I will need to get a permit for that only.
So technically I could build a Sonoma Shanty that is 120 square feet on a foundation as long as it meets these requirements. I would need a permit for the wiring and plumbing if I chose to put that in.
What if it is on wheels or considered an RV?
I was unable to find anything regarding this on the Sonoma County website. To my knowledge each town or neighborhood has its own rules regarding this. Some places allow you to park an RV at your home or on your property but only allow you to live in it for so much time and than you must move it. Others say it can only be parked but not lived in, and other areas don’t care one way or the other.
What About a Remote Area?
Often you can build in a remote area without permits. Here again it is important to check with your county requirements.
Many people just build and some areas are so remote that no one knows about your cabin or home. If you are reported by neighbors or someone else you may have to deal with the local codes and/or remove or tear the structure down.
Hopefully this article has given you some idea as to where to start looking for this type of information and also what to look for.
I am happy to announce three new floor plans that Stephen Marshall from Little House on the Trailer has put together for additional ideas on how you can use the Sonoma Shanty. Stephen will continue to generate new floor plans and they will be added to the Sonoma Shanty plans and emailed to previous buyers.
Here are the three new ideas (plus the original):
- Garden House (this is the first completed shanty)
- Tutor’s Cottage (great for an office on or off wheels)
- A Room of One’s Own (need a spare bedroom or workspace?)
- Tiny House (original floor plan)
Here is a recent testimony by Nick from Indiana who bought the plans:
I have to say I am rather impressed with the plans, the ability to mix ease of construction and functionality in this design is really pretty amazing. Example, using the 12/12 roof, provides simple construction and yields sufficient loft space. You’ve also eliminated the need for a birds mouth. These are all things a person new to construction would likely mess up. For those of us who have previously built such things, the elimination and simplification of these adds significant time savings, less room for error and waste, and ease of assembly. I am very satisfied with the plans.
If you think the Sonoma Shanty is the space for you click on the Plans button above and get your set today.
First Completed Sonoma Shanty in Petaluma, California
This shanty has been set up to be used as a garden retreat away from the big house. With fine wood floors and detailed walls, this retreat shows what a high end shanty can look like. When completed it will have a small kitchen and be a perfect place to come away from the big house and relax and enjoy the garden and gazebo.
This home is based on the hybrid kit using both stick built construction and Sing Panels. To learn more about the different kits available click on the Kit tab above.
This is the first of many Sonoma Shanties that I hope to feature here. If you have bought plans be sure and send pictures and contact me using the contact form above so that your shanty can be featured here in the blog as well as in the Shanty Pics section. To see more of the Petaluma Shanty click on the Shanty Pics button. You can also buy the plans to build your own here.