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Sheds, Detached Garages, Guest Houses, etc.

Single-family zoning districts in the City of Scottsdale refer to the permitted uses found in the R1-190 and R1-43 districts. Construction of the main building must be underway before any accessory building construction can occur.

Please Note: The requirements listed below are the typical accessory structure requirements. Some developments have adopted amended development standards and some zoning districts have additional restrictions (i.e. in the Foothills Overlay area a separate set of standards apply).

Properties located in the Environmentally Sensitive Lands overlay areas are required to dedicate a percentage of land as Natural Area Open Space (NAOS); no building of any kind is allowed within the dedicated NAOS.

To determine the requirements applicable to a specific property, submit a setback request.

  • Not permitted in the required front or side yard setbacks.
  • Can be constructed in a rear yard but cannot occupy more than 30% of the rear yard (except in R-5 multiple-family residential districts where 75% coverage is allowed).
  • Minimum of 2 feet set back from property line, for every foot taller than 10 feet, add an additional foot to the setback. Example: 14 ft structure requires a 6 ft setback; 2 ft min setback + (14 ft actual height - 10 ft allowed height) = 6 ft. setback
  • In most zoning districts must be a minimum of 10 feet from the main structure.
  • In the R1-7 zoning district a minimum of 5 feet from the main structure. 

More information can be found at Municode Sec. 7.200.A.links to external site

Guest house is an accessory building or portion of a main building used to house guests of the occupants of the main building.

In addition to the above, guest houses are subject to the following criteria:

  • The cumulative square footage of the guest house(s) shall be no greater than one-half (1/2) the livable square footage of the main dwelling.
  • The guest house shall be connected to the water meter for the main dwelling. It shall not be separately metered.
  • The guest house shall not be rented or offered for rent independent of the main dwelling.
  • Dwelling units, single-family, including Vacation rental or Short-term rental, limited to one main dwelling per lot.
  • A guest house that is architecturally connected to the main building shall comply with the yard requirements of the main building.

In addition to the above, the following requirements apply to accessory buildings used as a garage or carport:

  • Access from an alley - must be setback a minimum of 15 feet from the center-line of the alley, except that 1 additional foot of setback shall be provided for each foot of building height above 12 feet. Except in the R1-7 zoning district a side load garage is allowed a zero foot setback on the alley property line.
  • Direct access from a street - must be setback a minimum of 20 feet to the back of ultimate improvements (including sidewalks, etc.), except that 1 additional foot of setback shall be provided for each foot of building height above 12 feet.

Properties located in the Foothills Overlay have a completely different set of development standards for accessory structures. The setbacks, max building area, total sq. ft. of all accessory structures (including barns) are all determined from several factors that include the underlying zoning, the lot size and the square footage of the main residence.

Permitting Requirements

For residential non-livable detached accessory buildings (i.e. tool/storage sheds), if the size of the building is less than 200 sq ft then you do not need a permit -- but you MUST meet the required setbacks and obtain plan approval from the Planning Services staff at the One Stop Shop.

Submittal Checklists - for projects that do need permits (which is most of them).