"For most of us, our home is our most important investment, " Clatsop County Building Official Bert Stone says. "Oregon law requires you to obtain permits, even on your own property, to ensure that minimum building standards are met for your own safety and for the safety of future property owners and occupants."

You could also face fines of $1,000 to $3,000 for doing work without a permit.

Stone offers the following helpful information for home remodelers:

What is a permit?A permit gives you legal permission to start work of a project in accordance with approved drawings and specifications. Permits, whether building, plumbing, mechanical or electrical, are beneficial to you and your community. You benefit from your local code official's knowledge of the specialty codes to ensure your project is built or installed correctly, will be safe and will last. Safe construction practices help protect you, your family, your friends and your investment. When making home improvements, protect the safety and value of your home and family by getting the necessary permits and using licensed contractors and craftsmen.

When do I need a building permit?A permit is required to construct, enlarge, alter, move or demolish any one-or two-family dwelling or related structure. For example:

• Add a room.

• Build, demolish or move a carport, garage. Build a shed that will be bigger than 200 square feet or more than 10 feet tall, from ground to the highest peak.

• Finish an attic, garage or basement to make additional living space.

• Cut a new window or door opening, or widen existing openings.

• Move, remove or add walls.

• Apply roofing when all of the old roofing is removed and new sheathing is installed.

• Build a stairway.

• Build a retaining wall more than four feet high or at any height if supporting a surcharge.

• Building a deck 30 inches or more above grade.

• Put up a fence more than 6 feet high.

• Move more than 50 cubic yards of earth or any amount of cut or fill on sites affected by waterways or slope hazards.

When do I need an electrical permit?• To install or alter any permanent wiring or electrical device.

• To run any additional wiring, put in an electrical outlet or light fixture, install receptacle for a garage-door opener, or convert from fuse box to circuit breakers.

• To install or alter low-voltage systems such as security alarms or stereo or computer systems.

When do I need a plumbing permit?• To replace water heaters, alter piping inside a wall or ceiling or beneath a floor, and for plumbing in all new installations.

• To do emergency repair, alteration, or replacement of freeze-damaged or leaking concealed piping, if new piping exceeds 3 feet.

• To remodel or add on to your one- or two-family dwelling when existing plumbing is to be relocated. This includes installation of building sewers, water service, and rain drains outside the building.

When do I need a mechanical permit?• Install or change any part of a heating or cooling system that must be vented into any kind of chimney, including unvented decorative appliances

• Install a woodstove, fireplace insert, pellet stove, or related venting

• Install, alter, or repair gas piping between the meter and an appliance (indoors or outdoors)

• Install bath fans, dryer exhausts, kitchen range exhausts, and appliances that are required to be vented

What information will I need to get a permit?• The address and legal description of the property.

• A description of the work proposed.

• The owner's name, address, and phone number.

• If a contractor is doing the work, the contractor's name, address, phone number, and state license number.

• Two sets of plans for new construction of homes or remodeling that clearly show all work on the building and a site plan that will show where the building sits on the property. Typical plans include a site plan, floor plans, and cross sections showing construction details.

If the project meets all requirements of the code and has all approvals from other departments (land-use planning, fire, environmental), the Clatsop County Building Codes Division will strive to issue your permit(s) the same day that you apply. Depending on the complexity of the project, permits usually are issued within 10 working days.

The mission of the Clatsop County Building Codes Division is to facilitate the construction of approved development project, provide development information to the public and enforce community livability standards. More information is available from the Building Codes Division at 800 Exchange St., Suite 100, Astoria, or call 338-3697 between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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