Accessory Structures


A subordinate structure detached from but located on the same lot as a principal building is an accessory structure. Accessory structures shall be associated with, and clearly incidental and subordinate to, the principal uses allowed in the zoning districts. Accessory uses and activities shall be subject to the same regulations as apply to principal uses in each district, unless otherwise expressly stated. Accessory structures include garages, decks, and fences.

Unified Development Ordinance

Unless otherwise specified, no detached accessory building shall occupy more than 35% of the area of the required yard, nor be located closer than 10 feet to any principal building. No detached accessory building or structure shall exceed the height of the principal building or structure.

When an accessory structure is located on a corner lot in residential districts, the structure shall be set back not less than 10 feet from the side lot line abutting the street. For more information and diagrams on accessory standards, refer to Section 4.5 - “Accessory Uses and Structures” (PDF) - of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).

Accessory structures shall be considered a part of the principal building when the distance between structures is solidly covered by a breezeway, portico, or similar architectural device at least 4 feet in width. Detached accessory uses shall meet the requirements of Section 5.2.2(B)(4) of the UDO, which allows certain structures to encroach into required setbacks. However, in no case shall any accessory structure be located closer than 5 feet to a required buffer or other protected areas.


A building permit is required for accessory structures located on 1 or 2 family dwelling lots; however, accessory structures with no dimension greater than 12 feet are exempt from the building permit requirement (North Carolina Residential Code, Section R101.2). This exemption from the requirement for a building permit is not applicable for any associated plumbing, electrical wiring, or mechanical system installations.

Subdivision Covenants

The Town of Apex Zoning Code regulations pertaining to setbacks and yard lines are also applicable as indicated in the zoning regulations for particular subdivisions or parcels. Subdivision covenants are legal agreements that may, at times, be more restrictive than the state or local ordinances. Property owners should review any covenants that may apply prior to any work. The covenants are not governed by the Town but must be considered with any project.