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Can I Build a Backyard Shed With a Basement?

Each year, thousands of Arizona residents email or call Rosie Romero’s radio show with questions about everything from preventing fires in their chimneys to getting rid of tree roots invading their sewer systems. His goal is to provide answers that suit the specific lifestyle wherever someone lives in Arizona. Here are questions about home maintenance and improvement from the Southern Arizona area.

QUESTION: I need more storage for my home and I’m thinking of building a shed. The Pima County building codes will allow me to have a 200-square-foot shed without getting a building permit. But I would also like to build a basement/cellar under the shed. Is this something that’s worth doing?

I could dig a hole and then support the walls of the shed with timber. Or should I have the foundation and walls poured or should I pour a footing and then lay down a cinderblock wall? I have plenty of room on my lot — three acres. I don’t want to put a livable area under the shed — just storage. I figure that I could have roughly 600 square feet of storage by following this plan. What do you think?

ANSWER: While you won’t need a permit for a non-permanent shed, you most definitely will need one for a shed with a basement. For that, you will need to place a foundation with appropriate reinforcing steel placed horizontally as well as vertically in the footing. Then you will either lay up the walls with grouted concrete masonry blocks or poured-in-place concrete walls. Then either a dirt wall or a poured slab can be placed with a floor system installed, bearing on the basement walls.


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