Did You Know? Installment #4 – More on Building Permits

Land Use is the entity in the Westmoreland County government which deals with zoning & building permits, as well as planning and community development.  Despite having very large areas of responsibility, the leadership and staff of the department are exceptionally helpful to residents.  They provide significant guidance online at: https://www.westmoreland-county.org/pc/building_zoning. There you can find important information as you consider any residential project.  Below is a sample found in the Zoning section that will help guide you on whether you need to apply for a building permit – when in doubt, ask. You can review all the information in this section by visiting: https://www.westmoreland-county.org/sites/default/files/2023-11/04%20Supplemental%20Regulations.pdf.  Several items have been highlighted as they are more frequently overlooked by residents.


4-1.2  Permitted residential accessory uses and structures, allowed only in conjunction with, and incidental to, a principal use or structure.

Accessory uses and structures shall be limited to the following residentially related uses and structures and to any other use or structure the zoning administrator determines to be similar in scope, size and impact as those listed herein, and are in compliance with all other provisions of this chapter.

4-1.2.1 Permits are typically required prior to installation:

  1. Above-ground deck
  2. Fallout Shelter
  3. Freestanding air conditioning unit
  4. Patio, porch, gazebo
  5. Private garage, carport
  6. Private greenhouse
  7. Private swimming pool and bathhouse
  8. Private tennis court or outdoor recreational court
  9. Radio or satellite antennas, freestanding or on roof, setback from required yards a minimum of one (1) foot for each one (1) foot in height
  10. Storage shed, for personal, noncommercial use, and clearly subordinate to principal structure. Not more than two storage sheds may be placed on any single residential lot
  11. Studios and workshops without outdoor display for personal use, and clearly subordinate to the principal structure
  12. Solar power panels and windmills
  13. Accessory dwelling in accord with Article 4
  14. Driveways and parking for motor vehicles, any type of surface, subject to Article 5
  15. Temporary family health care structure in accord with Section 4-10.

4-1.2.2 Permits are typically not required for installation:

  1. Clothesline
  2. Pet houses, pens, runs hutches for commonly accepted pets but not kennels
  3. Storage, outdoor, provided such storage area is located on the rear half of the lot; is screened from view from the first story window of any neighboring dwelling; and the total area for such outside storage does not occupy more than 100 square feet.** Comment: #3 is important as it reminds us not to pile up old building materials and debris on our lots.  Make it a spring-cleaning ritual to clean up these areas to keep the community looking good. **
  4. Enclosed areas devoted to collection of recyclable materials
    generated by the principal use.
  5. School bus shelter or bus stand.
  6. Playhouse for children, not to exceed 100 square feet in gross floor area or 6 feet in height, and children’s play equipment.
  7. Family day-care homes with fewer than 6 children are permitted by right, but family day-care homes with 6 to 12 children are only permitted as provided in the applicable zoning district, as specified in Article 2.


posted 02.27.24