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Public Works - Planning and Development

Building and Inspection

Common Terms Used in the Permitting Process

Approval

Before a building permit can be issued it must be approved by zoning and the plans examiner.

Approved Lot

A building site which has already gone through the development process, including dedication of roads, installation of improvements such as curb, gutter and sidewalk and utilities, payment of impact fees, recording of plats, etc. Such a lot can usually obtain zoning approval over the counter.

Building Codes

A voluminous code regulating the construction of buildings to assure their safety for the intended purpose. These codes include the International Building Code (IBC), the International Mechanical Code, the International Plumbing Code with amendments, the National Electrical Code (NEC), and the Model Energy Code. These codes are adopted by the state, and apply in all jurisdictions.

Building Permit:

A document that gives you permission to construct whatever is shown on your approved plans. A permit expires if you don't start work within 6 months of issuance, or if you don't call for inspections for a period of over 6 months to verify that you are working on it.

Clearview

Refers to prohibiting visual barriers on corner lots that would restrict the vision for motorists on the intersecting streets.

Code Conformance

The plans examiner reviews plans for conformance to the building code. This will include smoke detectors, egress windows, location on the property, stairs structural adequacy both for vertical loads (such as wind or earthquake), and much more. If code deficiencies are found on the plan, our plans examiner will be happy to help you understand the requirement and how it can be met.

Inspections

Once you begin work, you are required to call for inspections so that the inspector can verify that the work you are doing complies with the approved plans and code requirements. Rule 1: Don't cover any work before you have approval of the inspector; Rule 2: Don't deviate from the approved plan. Usually you will call for inspections of: Footings, before you pour concrete; foundations, before you pour concrete; underground plumbing; rough plumbing, electrical, and mechanical; rough framing; insulation; and a final inspection. Not all apply to every permit, and some construction may require other inspections; ask to be sure.

Permit Fees

There are several fees related to building permits that are intended generally to cover the cost of plan review and inspection services. They are: Plan review fee, which is 40% for residential and 65% for commercial of the building permit fee; permit fee, which is usually about one-half of one percent (1/2 of 1%) of the total value of the work being done; and a state surcharge, 1% of the permit fee.

Plan Check

The process of reviewing plans for compliance with all codes. For complicated plans, such as a new home, or adding a second story, etc., the process can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, depending on the backlog.

Plans

Each building permit requires the submittal of two identical sets of plans-one to be kept at the job site for use by the builder and the field inspector, the other to be kept in the county office. While these plans don’t always need to be professionally prepared, they should be "drawn to scale, on substantial paper and shall be of sufficient clarity to indicate the location, nature, and extent of the proposed work." The plans should be clear enough that any builder could build what you desire without further information from you.

Plans Examiner

A county employee trained to review plans for, and answer questions regarding, compliance with the building codes.

Sideyards and Setbacks

The land use ordinance requires that buildings be placed a certain minimum distance from the street, or from the side or rear property lines. These vary from zone to zone, and it even depends on the building. You will need to inquire for your particular case. In some rare instances, the building code may have a more restrictive requirement than the zoning ordinance. The plans examiners can make that determination.

Site Plan

A drawing that depicts an aerial view of a piece of property, showing property lines, existing buildings, topography, and proposed buildings. On steep lots a certified topography prepared by a licensed land surveyor may be required. A site plan is required anytime you are constructing something that will change the amount of land that is covered by structures.

Unimproved Land

This is land which has never gone through the development process, and requires planning commission approval, payment of impact and other fees, installation of required improvements, engineering and recording of plats, etc. This process involves anywhere from 2 months to a year in order to obtain approval to issue a building permit.

Zoning Ordinance

The county ordinances regulating land use, including location on property, height, use of building, etc.