Building a garden shed, carport, fence or shade structure

This page has information about when you need a building permit to build a garden shed, carport, fence or shade structure in the Northern Territory (NT). 

You will usually need a permit unless your structure meets the criteria for exemptions from building approval.

There are exemptions for garden sheds, fences, and shade structures, however you will need building approval for a carport. 

There are no exemptions for constructing a carport. 

How to get building approval

You can get building approval from either of the following:

  • an approved self-certifying manufacturer
  • or a registered NT building certifier.

Engage a self-certifier

A self-certifier is someone approved to build and certify the construction of certain products such as garden sheds, carports, fences or shade structures, and who can be engaged instead of a building certifier.

Self-certifiers must be able to both supply and install the product. 

They can only certify products for their approved uses and must ensure that the construction complies with approved plans and legislation. 

They can also issue occupancy permits for the completed structure.

You may also choose to buy a product from a self-certifier but get building approval through a building certifier.  

To check if a person is a self-certifier for a particular product, ask to see their self-certifier approval. 

You can also find a self-certifier by contacting Building Advisory Services

Call (08) 8999 8985 or email

Use a building certifier

You may prefer to engage a building certifier if the product you are installing is not approved for self-certification, if you want to build it yourself, or you are having other work done and want to include the installation in the same building permit as your other work.

Read more about engaging a registered building certifier.

Exemptions from building approvals

You don't need building approval if, on any one lot, your existing and proposed structures meet the following criteria.

Garden shed

You don't need building approval if your shed is on a large or rural property and the shed does not have plumbing, electrical or drainage services, and meets either of the following criteria:

  • the roof area is less than 12 square metres, the building height is less than 2.1m, and it is located at least 40m from any boundary
  • the roof area is less than 30 square metres, the height is less than 2.4m, and it is located at least 70m from any boundary.


You don't need building approval for a fence if it is either of the following: 

  • less than 1m high 
  • or does not offer wind resistance - such as a chain wire mesh or metal pool type fencing.

Shade structure

You do not need building approval if your shade structures, on any one lot, are all of the following:

  • less than a total of 30 square metres of shade cloth
  • totally freestanding and not attached to any building
  • more than 5cm from any other buildings.

If your shade structure uses shade sail or canvas or similar material you will need building approval.

Get an existing shed, carport, fence or shade structure certified

You must contact a building certifier if you have an existing garden shed, carport, fence or shade structure that is not exempt from building approval and does not have occupancy certification. 

Your building certifier can help you to get your structure certified and compliant, even if you did not originally have a building permit.

Read more about occupancy certification.

Last updated: 11 July 2017

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