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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the basic process for getting a building permit?

For small scale projects such as new roofs or new electrical service, building permits can be issued the same day. These are commonly known as over the counter permits and are issued within thirty minutes or less. For other larger scale projects, building permits usually take two to three months for a typical project, and follow seven basic steps.

1) Application Submittal - At a minimum, a property owner submits a project description and plot plan to the Building Inspection Division for review. Complete construction plans are often submitted but not required at this step.

2) Preliminary Investigation - Building Division staff review the submittal for site suitability and other permit requirements. Application fees are collected at this time.

3) Pre-site Inspection - In coordination with the applicant, a Building Inspector visits the project site to confirm the features shown on the plot plan. The applicant is provided a copy of the pre-site inspection report from the Building Inspector.

4) Referrals - Once the plot plan is complete and construction plan have been received, the application is sent to other reviewing agencies such as the Environmental Health Division and Public Works Department.

5) Construction Plan Review - A Plan Checker reviews the construction plans for conformance with state building codes. This step often involves revisions to the construction plans.

6) Permit Issuance - After the referrals are returned by the reviewing agencies and construction plans have been approved, the permit may be issued to the applicant. Any final plan check and permit issuance fees are collected at this time.

7) Inspections - During construction, Building Inspectors regularly visit the project site to assure conformance with the approved construction plans.

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1. What is an assessor’s parcel number?
2. How do I find out if my parcel is the city or in the county?
3. What is a zoning classification?
4. What development does zoning allow?
5. What is a land use designation?
6. What is a combining zone?
7. What are building setbacks?
8. What is the minimum parcel size?
9. What permits are required to build, rebuild or remodel a house?
10. What’s the difference between building in the coastal zone and the inland areas?
11. How do I research if a property is in the coastal zone?
12. Can I place a manufactured home on my property?
13. Are accessory dwelling units allowed on a property?
14. How tall can a fence be built?
15. Are horses, chickens, goats or other domesticated animals allowed in residential zones?
16. Can I remove trees from a property?
17. Can a person live in a travel trailer on a property?
18. How do I determine if a lot was legally created?
19. Are there any easements that affect a property?
20. Is my property subject to flooding?
21. What is a nonconforming structure or use?
22. If an old structure burns down, can it be rebuilt?
23. Can a house be remodeled if it does not meet the required setbacks?
24. Can a parcel be subdivided?
25. What is the basic process for getting a building permit?
26. What is the basic process for getting a planning permit?
27. What are typical fees for a planning permit?
28. How do I get help applying for a planning permit?
29. I’m thinking about buying a property. How can I research more about it?
30. How do I research which zones allow a particular use?
31. What is the difference between a principally permitted use and a conditionally permitted use?
32. What is the process for annexing a parcel into a city?
33. Does the county enforce covenants, conditions, or restrictions in subdivisions?
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