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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 a set 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"
  • 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 (IRC R106.1 and IBC 107.1)
  • Be clear enough that you could give them to a responsible builder and he could build what you desired without further information from you.
  • The building permit process is now on-line and uses electronic submittal and review. Plans and plan information submitted for building permit plan review needs to be uploaded as PDFs or other suitable electronic formats.

Plan Review

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.

If 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 much slope to the property provide topographic information.
  • In most circumstances the plans are logged in for plan review.

Case Examples

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 plans (at least a detailed floor plan) showing what you intend to do. Plans can then be submitted through our on-line building permit website for building permit submittal. (You can also call or come into the office if you need help with the on-line submittal process.) 

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 Planning 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 200 square feet (120 sq. ft. for commercial properties) 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 7’ 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 completing the following steps:

  1. applying for the permit through the on-line submittal system.
  2. obtaining zoning or land use approval if applicable to the scope of work.
  3. paying an upfront submittal fee for plan check.

***Please note that the plans are not in line for plan review until all three steps have been completed.***

The entire process including the plan review can take from several days to two weeks or more.

Cost: Is based on the calculated value of the work being permitted. 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 through our permitting processes. Protection of life, health, property, and public welfare are our only concerns in administering these laws and ordinances.