Definition of "Accessory Building"

Doug Thompson real estate agent

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Doug Thompsonelite badge icon

Urban Nest Realty

An accessory building is an outdoor structure used by the occupants of the main building or house. They have different functions and can be detached or attached to the main building on the property’s perimeter. Most of these accessory buildings are not supposed to be used for living purposes or sleeping areas, and nor can they be used for storing vehicles that are not owned by the private homeowner.

Accessory buildings or structures can be located anywhere on the owned property and fulfills the owners’ particular needs. The most common are garages used to store vehicles, tools, or other frequently used assets that aren’t stored inside the house. Different types of accessory buildings are playhouses, private studios, garden structures, pergolas, greenhouses, playhouses, treehouses, boathouses, poolhouses, storage buildings, or sheds for him or her.

Can a Homeowner have an Accessory Building?

Accessory buildings are held under ordinances from cities, counties, or local governments. For safety reasons and as a way to avoid the loss of invested money upon demolition, it is best to check with the local authorities before deciding to erect an accessory structure. The city or county authorities should have the laws and rules available on their website for those that want to check the information.

These ordinances can impose some limits on what the owner can implement for the accessory buildings:

  • Number of plumbing fixtures;
  • Kitchen facilities;
  • Type of structure: open-air, materials used, etc.
  • Zoning ordinances can change the list of accessory buildings (pools);
  • Access to air conditioning;
  • Require detachment of the accessory building or not;
  • Limitations on where an accessory building can be located on the property;
  • Limitations on how many stories the structure can have (one or two usually);
  • Limitations on the height of the structure;
  • The necessity of building permits or not;
  • Permits for electricity and plumbing required;
  • Limitations on the size of garages (which you should be aware of prior to renovating your garage), pool houses and studios when compared to the house.

Comments for Accessory Building

Nancy Burkley Nancy Burkley said:

Is a little library considered an accessory building?

Jun 30, 2021  17:58:06

Real Estate Agent

Hey Nancy! Thank you for reaching out to us. Yes, a little library can be considered an accessory building as long as it is an outdoor structure that is attached or not to the main building and is located on the same lot as the main structure.

Jul 01, 2021  12:34:47


Apr 30, 2019  23:15:25

Real Estate Agent

Hi, Jacob! We hope you have found what you were looking for. Let us know if we can help you with anything else. 

May 01, 2019  04:34:24
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