Design Guidelines for Accessory Buildings

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Historic preservation is an established part of city planning in many Florida communities. This often includes the designation of individual buildings as well as entire neighborhoods (historic districts) as historically significant and thus worthy of preservation. Improvements to designated properties are typically subject to review by city historic preservation design review boards who rely on both The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and locally established Design Guidelines.

Design Guidelines convey general policies about the design of alterations to existing structures, additions, new construction and site work by helping to establish a common understanding of preservation design principles and standards acceptable within a particular area. They serve as a useful starting point when planning any renovation or restoration project, but allow for a variety of design responses. Many Design Guidelines provide standards for the preservation and new construction of sheds, garages and other accessory type buildings. Typical recommendations for outbuildings may look like this:

Many building in the historic districts have existing historic outbuilding at the rear of the property that were designed to match the primary building in their styles, colors, and materials. These building are considered historic in their own right, and should be retained and repaired whenever possible. The construction of new garages and outbuildings is acceptable, but they should be sited at the rear of the property where they will have the least impact on the primary structure.

  • New outbuilding should be sited at the rear of the property, away from the primary facades, or near a rear alley.
  • The design of new outbuilding should be compatible with the primary structure in its proportions, roof form, and exterior materials. Traditional materials and details should be used if possible.
  • They should be smaller in scale than the primary structure.
  • Garage doors should compatible in style and materials if possible. Hinged wood panel carriage doors and wood paneled overhead doors with glazed lights are more appropriate than solid metal or metal paneled units.
  • The colors of the new outbuilding should be compatible with the colors of the primary structure.

The design professionals at Historic Shed have written Design Guidelines for several Florida historic districts. We have also presented our restoration, renovation and new construction plans to historic preservation design review boards throughout Florida. We will work with local preservation staff and board to ensure that your garden shed or garage meets the Design Guideline criteria for you community.

Article written by Jo-Anne Peck

Posted on November 11, 2009 8:13 pm
  1. Mark Lee

    Currently in the process of trying to restore my carriage house that was built in 1890, but have come to terms that the structural damage is to severe to fix and that a full demo of the structure is the best possible option. I am in a historical district and would love to get some feed back on some ideas and options. Thank you!

    1. hs-admin

      It is a shame that the historic structure is difficult to save. Before you throw in the towel, do make sure that you will be allowed to rebuild. Sometimes existing accessory buildings are grandfathered in for use, size and setbacks. If you need help after that, feel free to give us a call or drop us an email with some photos and we can see if we can be of assistance.


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