An Overview of the Building Permit Process

An Overview of the Building Permit Process

Your decision to build a house or place a manufactured dwelling is a very important step in your life. If you live outside the urban growth boundaries of Eugene and Springfield, or outside most cities, Lane County Land Management is responsible for the administration of many of the development codes that apply to your property.

The Land Management Division uses building codes, permits, and inspections to help preserve the beauty and livability of our county. Zoning laws work toward promoting harmony between proposed and existing land uses. Building and sanitation codes set minimum construction standards to safeguard lives, health, and property. Inspections give you and future owners of your house the assurance that it construction was completed properly.

We know that accomplishing your purpose as quickly and simply as possible is your chief concern. We hope this section to will minimize the frustrations of the permit process and to emphasize important points to consider when purchasing land for a home site. We have tailored the information to the individual homebuilder and manufactured dwelling purchaser.

Those interested in commercial and industrial development should discuss their plans directly with the Lane County Planning and Building Programs.

Some Preliminary Advice

KNOW YOUR LAND

Make sure you can obtain sewage disposal approval for your property if you wish to build a home. Standard subsurface sewage disposal approval (septic tank and drain field) can be difficult to obtain for some areas of Lane County due to poor soil conditions and high water tables. Approvable alternative systems are expensive and require higher levels of maintenance. Land Management's Subsurface Sanitation Program will advise you concerning the possibilities of sewage disposal approval. Remember that if much time has elapsed since the purchase of your land, new code amendments may affect your present plans.

You will also want to know about public services such as sewer, water, streets, schools, police, and fire protection. Contact each agency directly for more information about the services they provide to your property. Information regarding natural hazards related to flooding, high groundwater, erosion, wildfires, and expansive soils might be available at our office.


 

START EARLY

Begin the permit process well ahead of the date construction is to begin. Four months is not too far in advance if planning or sewage disposal problems are likely to occur. Building construction is seasonal, and site evaluations for sewage disposal systems take time. The Subsurface Sanitation Program's workload is heaviest during the summer, so your evaluation request can be met more quickly in the winter months. Processing time for site evaluation applications can range from two to three weeks during the winter and up to five weeks during the summer.


 

ASK QUESTIONS

When questions arise, call, or come to our office to discuss them. Our qualified staff is usually available to answer questions as they arise; however, it is advisable to make an appointment if you are trying to reach an individual who must be out of the office frequently to conduct inspections. Other agencies in the area are also able to provide useful information.


 

A WORD OF CAUTION

When it comes to property lines, be especially cautious if the federal government owns the land adjacent to yours. Many government tracts have never been surveyed accurately and property lines may be only approximate.

The Building Site

WHAT ARE THE BASIC STEPS IN THE HOME CONSTRUCTION PERMIT PROCESS?

  1. Planning Clearance Approval

  2. Application for Septic Site Evaluation

  3. Application for Building, Plumbing, Mechanical, Electrical and Septic Permits


 

WHAT IS PLANNING CLEARANCE?

Planning clearance is the evaluation of your property to determine whether your proposed development is in compliance with the comprehensive plan and land development ordinances. If there are no conflicts, we will issue planning clearance approval. You must have planning clearance approval before we will accept a septic or building permit application for review or approval.

The Planning Program administers the land use regulations for rural Lane County as prescribed by State Statute, Administrative Rule, and Local Code. They are responsible for providing their customers (the public, consultants, decision makers, and government) with accurate, useful, and timely information regarding the preservation, utilization, and development of Lane County's natural resources. They accomplish this not only by adhering to Oregon's land use related policies, but also by refining them. Citizen participation in the planning process is paramount.


 


WHERE DO I START?

The answer to this question varies, depending on your particular situation:

  1. If you are ready to begin development on your property, and have cleared planning, start by speaking to a Sanitarian. Even though you may not need to install a septic system, verification of certain factors is usually required. The Sanitarian will then refer you to Planner on Duty to begin the application process.
  2. If you want to know the zoning status of your property, without necessarily filing applications for development permits, request to speak to the Planner on Duty during their counter hours. We can usually accommodate simple requests for information on the spot. Situations that are more complex may require a fee and time for research and preparation of a written response.

Prior to or concurrent with this step, you should also be discussing your site utility requirements with all the utility companies serving your area.


 

WHAT INFORMATION DO I NEED TO BEGIN?

You can save time by obtaining the township, range, section and taxlot (parcel) number from your property tax statement. If you do not yet own the property, or are otherwise acting in the owner's behalf, you must have a written statement from the owner authorizing you to act as his or her agent.  


 

WHAT IF I PLAN TO MOVE A MANUFACTURED DWELLING ON TO MY PROPERTY?

The procedure is the same as for home construction in most instances. If you plan to place your manufactured dwelling on a single taxlot that already has one dwelling on it, you may need to apply for land division approval or a conditional use permit. In cases of medical hardship, you may be able to apply for temporary manufactured dwelling placement on the same lot. Additional information for permit requirements is available at the Land Management Division lobby. The planning program can assist you with these procedures.


 

MAY I CHOOSE TO HAVE A SEPTIC SITE EVALUATION BEFORE RECEIVING PLANNING CLEARANCE APPROVAL?

Yes. If serious septic problems are found to exist, you may choose not to go through a lengthy planning procedure. On the other hand, if there are serious planning problems, you may prefer not to go ahead with the site evaluation step. Either way, it will be necessary to have planning clearance approval before the septic construction permit is granted. If you file an application, but later withdraw the application before significant processing has occurred, we may be able to arrange a fee refund.


 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SITE EVALUATION APPROVAL AND A SEPTIC PERMIT?

A site evaluation approval is an official statement issued by the Subsurface Sanitation Program stating that a designated area on your property is suitable for the installation of a septic system. This approval goes with the land and is transferable from one owner to the next. It is valid indefinitely, as long as the site remains in its original undisturbed state. Future technical rule changes will not affect your approval.

A septic permit allows the installation of a septic system on a particular site. This site must have received a site evaluation approval from the Subsurface Sanitation Program. There must be no conflicts with the comprehensive plan or land development ordinances. Your permit is valid for one year and is renewable provided it has not expired. It is NOT transferable to a new property owner.


 

HOW IS A SEPTIC SITE EVALUATION CONDUCTED?

You must dig at least two holes on the property for each site you wish to have evaluated. The holes are usually dug by a backhoe to a depth of 5 feet, and should be about two feet wide and four feet long. After you advise the Subsurface Sewage Program that you have dug the holes, staff sanitarians will examine them to determine soil suitability for subsurface disposal purposes. We will provide a detailed report of their findings to you.


 

WHAT ARE ALTERNATIVE SEPTIC SYSTEMS?

Alternative septic systems are designed for installation where standard systems will not function satisfactorily. They include the sand filter, evapotranspiration absorption (ETA), capping fill, and holding tank systems. With the exception of the holding tank, all the systems may be used with single-family dwellings.

Building and Manufactured Dwelling Placement Permits

HOW DO I APPLY FOR A BUILDING OR MANUFACTURED DWELLING PLACEMENT PERMIT?

Make written application with the Building Program. The staff will coordinate your application with the Planning and Subsurface Sanitation Programs. 


 

WHAT IS A PLAN REVIEW?

The Plans Examiner will review your plans to ensure that your proposed construction is consistent with the building code. This process will take from two to six weeks, depending on the workload. If you apply for a septic permit or planning approval at the same time, your plan review may take additional time. When a plan review is complete, the Building Program will let you know that your permit is ready to be issued.


 

HOW SOON MUST CONSTRUCTION BEGIN?

Unless it is renewed, your building or manufactured dwelling placement permit requires that construction begin within 180 days after it issuance. If you have unexpected long delays during your building process, you may apply for one 180-day extension.


 

WHERE DO I GET A HOUSE NUMBER?

The Rural Addressing section will assign a number to your property when you submit an application for a house construction permit or a manufactured dwelling placement permit. Please make every effort to ensure that you post the number on the property in one or more locations that are visible from the road. This is not only a convenience to your friends and visitors, but is an extremely important aid to emergency services personnel who may be responding for your benefit. You will need planning clearance before we can assign a house number to your property.


 

WHAT IF I PLAN TO BUILD MY OWN HOME AND AM UNFAMILIAR WITH REQUIREMENTS?

The Building Program is prepared to help you through this part of the process. Do not hesitate to call them. Licensed contractors registered with the State of Oregon Construction Contractor’s Board (Builder’s Board) do most construction.


 

WHAT WILL I RECEIVE WHEN MY BUILDING PERMIT IS APPROVED?

  1. An approved set of plans to be kept at the job site for use with the construction;

  2. A copy of the building permit;

  3. A permit card to be posted at the building site; and,

  4.  Instructions for inspections appointments (listed on the back of the building permit).


 

CAN I MAKE CHANGES IN MY PLANS AFTER APPROVAL?

You may, provided the Building Official first approves the changes. Contact the building inspector working with you on your project prior to altering any plans.


 

WHAT OTHER PERMITS MAY BE CONNECTED WITH CONSTRUCTION OF MY HOME OR PLACING MY MANUFACTURED DWELLING?

You will need an Electrical permit from the Building Program for all electrical work except in certain cities, which issue their own permits. Check with the Building Program for further information on permit applications.

If you are doing the wiring yourself, you must purchase the permit. Otherwise, a licensed electrician must obtain the permit.

Special rules apply if you are installing a manufactured dwelling on your own property. You must obtain an Electrical permit from our office for the power pole, service box, and meter box. The manufactured dwelling permit from the county includes the plumbing permit, which covers the sewer installation from the septic tank/sewer to the manufactured dwelling, the plumbing installation from the well/water main to the manufactured dwelling, the electrical feeder from the service box to the manufactured dwelling, and the manufactured dwelling setup (installation) permit.


 

WHAT OTHER SORTS OF CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS WILL NEED PERMITS?

All construction and remodels including:

  • Bridges
  • Awnings
  • Garages and carports
  • Docks and wharves
  • Agricultural Structures (a Planning application is needed)
  • Fences over six feet in height
  • Manufactured Dwelling accessories (cabanas, decks, additions, carports, etc.)
  • Air Structures
  • Interior remodeling requiring any change in structure

If you are installing water or sewer hookups, or are contemplating any installation work within the public road right-of-way, you will need a permit from the Lane County Public Works Department. Prior to issuing the permit, the department will require a plan showing the details of the proposed work. After approval of the permit, it will be your responsibility to have the work done in accordance with the plans and permit conditions.


 

WHAT ABOUT A DRIVEWAY?

If the access to your site is from a county road or street, you will need a Facility permit from the County Public Works Department to construct a driveway. The permit pertains only to that portion of the driveway that will be within the public right-of-way. After we have received your application, a Public Works area foreman will look at the proposed driveway location (you should flag or otherwise mark the exact spot). He will determine how entrance to and from the county road can be made safely, and whether or not a driveway culvert is required. After approval of the permit, it will be your responsibility to have the driveway constructed in accordance with permit provisions. A Public Works inspector will check the installation, if requested, during the progress of the work, and will make a final inspection after the job is completed.

Inspections

WILL MY SEPTIC SYSTEM BE INSPECTED?

Yes. Your installation permit will contain a schedule of necessary inspections. At the appropriate stages of construction, notify the Subsurface Sanitation staff. The staff will inspect your system and, once the system is completed and approved, a Certificate of Satisfactory Completion and Final Inspection Report will be issued. Keep these documents. They are important in case of the need for future repair of the system.


 

WILL MY WATER SUPPLY BE TESTED?

The county does not require that you get your water supply tested. We do recommend such tests periodically to make sure your water is safe for consumption. Many banks and lending institutions presently require these tests before extending loans.


 

ARE INSPECTIONS REQUIRED FOR MANUFACTURED DWELLINGS?

Yes. Before occupancy, you must have an inspection of the stand, support system, underground sewer and water lines, sewer and water connections, and electrical feeder. To request inspections contact the Building Program.


 

HOW MANY INSPECTIONS ARE MADE FOR A DWELLING?

A minimum of eleven (11) inspections are required. 

  • Foundation: Made after trenches are excavated, forms erected, steel placed, and before pouring concrete.

  • Underground Piping: Made after the installation of all underground piping, and prior to any backfill.

  • Concrete Slab or Underfloor Inspection: Made after placement of all in-slab or underfloor building service equipment, conduit, piping accessories and other ancillary equipment items, but before any placement of concrete or installation of floor sheathing, including the subfloor.

  • Rough Mechanical: Made after installation of all ducting and gas piping, and prior to being covered.

  • Rough Plumbing: Made after placement of all plumbing rough-in, and prior to being covered.

  • Framing: Made after placement of all framing, fire blocking, bracing, and roof; completion of all pipes, chimneys, and vents; and approval of all rough electrical, plumbing, and mechanical inspections.

  • Insulation: Made after placement of all insulation and vapor barriers, and prior to covering.

  • Lath and/or Gypsum Wallboard: Made after placement of all interior and exterior lathing and gypsum wallboard, but before applying any plastering or taping, and finishing any gypsum board joints and fasteners.

  • Final Mechanical: Made just prior to occupancy of the structure or remodeled area, and prior to operating any equipment.

  • Final Plumbing: Made just prior to occupancy of the structure or remodeled area.

  • Final Building: Made after finish grading and prior to occupancy of the building, structure, or remodeled area.

  • Subsurface Sewage Disposal Systems: When the subsurface construction is complete, the permit holder shall notify Land Management's Subsurface Sanitation Program by submitting the installation record form. A qualified sanitarian will make an inspection.

  • Other Inspections: The Building Official may require other inspections of any construction work to ascertain compliance with provisions of the code and other laws enforced by the code enforcement agency, (e.g. masonry block inspection, which must be made after reinforcement, but before pouring any grout. The inspection is required for each bond beam pour. You must get approval for all rough plumbing and electrical inspections prior to obtaining approval for masonry block installation.)

Appeal of Program Decisions

BUILDING PROGRAM

If a permit applicant wishes to challenge the decision of an inspector or plans examiner, they may contact the Building Official directly. Beyond the Building Official, the Oregon Residential Code requires that the local jurisdiction establish an appeals procedure in accordance with OAR 918-020-0090(1)(c). This requirement is satisfied by the Building Appeals and Advisory Board established by Lane Manual 3.520. The applicant may make a written appeal to the board, along with the appropriate appeals fee. Any person aggrieved by the final decision of an appeals board at the local level may appeal to the appropriate advisory board at the State Department of Consumer and Business Services in accordance with ORS 455.690.


 

SUBSURFACE SANITATION PROGRAM

You may appeal any staff decisions concerning septic systems to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). However, since there is a fee for these appeals, it is our recommendation that you first thoroughly discuss the reasons for your denial with a staff sanitarian.

You have the right to apply for a variance from the particular requirements of the rules or standards pertaining to the subsurface sewage disposal system for which you were given a denial. You may receive a variance if the variance officer finds:

  • A subsurface sewage disposal system will function in a satisfactory manner so as not to create a public health hazard or cause pollution of the public waters of the State of Oregon, or

  • Special physical conditions exist which render strict compliance unreasonable, burdensome, or impractical.

You can get Variance Application forms from the Subsurface Sanitation Program, or from the local DEQ office.

NOTE: Before applying for a variance, consider carefully whether the system will function satisfactorily. Denials based on extremely severe soil or topographical conditions are unlikely to be granted a variance. It is our recommendation that you discuss your variance potential thoroughly with the Subsurface Sanitation Program personnel before applying.


 

PLANNING PROGRAM

Please visit the Lane County Planning Program home page for information on appeals processes associated with land use and zoning decisions.