When dealing with zoning and building requirements for your area, it may be confusing trying to figure out which types of structures require special permits and which are allowed to be built without one. In some cases, the differences come down to whether the building or construction is a freestanding structure, such as a shed or a pool house detached from the home, or whether it is an attached structure, such as a sunroom added to the back of a home.

Garden gazebo
credit: Ingrid Perlstrom/Hemera/Getty Images
A detached gazebo can be considered a freestanding structure.

Freestanding, Simplified

Freestanding means any structure that does not rely on another existing structure for support. A house is a freestanding structure, as is a garden or yard gazebo, a detached garage, or a self-contained shed or greenhouse. Some building and zoning authorities consider basketball standards and flagpoles to be freestanding structures and govern their location and use accordingly. Patio covers, porches and attached decks are not freestanding structures because they are attached to a home or other building.