Public Works - Planning and Development
Building and Inspection
Obtaining a Building Permit
for the First Time Builder
Some permits are very simple to obtain. Others involve some difficult processes that may seem daunting. This is a summary of the various types of permits and the processes involved (see Obtaining a Permit for a New Home for the bigger projects). The most basic requirement common to all the permits is preparing a set of plans.
Preparing A Set of Plans
Nearly every building permit requires two identical sets of plans to be submitted showing what work you intend to do and the details of how to do it. These plans don't need to be professionally prepared. However, they should be:
- "Drawn to scale" on a substantial paper size sheet
- Should be of sufficient clarity to indicate the location, nature, and extent of the work proposed
- Show in detail that it will conform to the provisions of (the) code and all relevant laws, ordinances, rules and regulations (UBC 106.3.3)
- Be clear enough that you could give them to a responsible builder and he could build what you desired without further information from you.
When your plans are reviewed the plans examiner will be looking for compliance with the code, including smoke detectors, egress windows, location on property, stairs, structural adequacy both for vertical loads (including snow) and lateral loads (such as wind), and much more.
In adding a room or building a detached garage or storage space a site plan is required that shows:
- Property lines and all existing structures accurately located on the property
- The proposed work
- Drawn to scale
- If there is very much slope to the property provide topographic information.
- In most circumstances log in the plans for plan check.
Case 1: Finishing A Basement or Interior Remodel
This is the simplest of permits to obtain because no special land use (or zoning) restrictions apply as long as you are not turning the space into a business.
Prepare two sets of plans (at least a detailed floor plan) showing what you intend to do. Bring it to our front counter and submit the plans and the completed permit application (64k pdf) to the Information Specialist.
Case 2: Adding A Room, Attached Garage, or Second Story
These projects require review of a site plan for compliance with land use requirements. Building height, front, side, and rear yards are all regulated based on the zone that they are in.
The Information Specialist can usually review and approve this unless you are requesting a variance from what is allowed in the zone.
The plans examiner will be particularly interested in verifying that the existing building can handle the additional loads that may be imposed on it from the new addition as well as the other code items mentioned above that are ordinarily checked.
Case 3: Building A Detached Garage or Storage Building:
These buildings are usually built in the backyard. Most property layouts do not have space to put them elsewhere and still meet land use requirements. Even in the rear yard there are some limitations on how large the structure can be and how close to the property line. The staff can help clarify these issues for your situation.
Structures under 120 square feet of roof area do not require a permit if they are just for storage. They must still comply with zoning and fire protection codes.
Larger structures are required to have footings and foundations to protect them from frost heave and similar ground movement and to carry the loads imposed on them.
Fences 6’ or less in height do not need permits but must meet "clearview" requirements, if they are situated on a corner lot.
Logging in for plan check:
- Means paying an upfront plan check fee and leaving the plans for detailed review by the plans examiner.
- This process usually takes from several days to two weeks or more.
- Cost: Is based on the calculated value of the work being permitted. It is usually less than 1% of the value of the work. Costs include the permit fee and plan check fee. All are estimated and usually can not be finalized until the plans have been reviewed.
Whatever you are planning we stand ready to answer your questions and help you deal with the complicated and frustrating processes. Protection of life, health, property, and public welfare are our only concerns in administering these laws and ordinances.