Tag Archives: building department requirements

Building Permit Application

When Sometimes Submitting all the Right Stuff, Is not Enough

I recently wrote about the lack of challenges involving acquiring a Building Permit in some jurisdictions: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2015/06/building-permit-4/.

Building PermitThe process can be as simple as no process at all (you can build anything you want without a permit) to as difficult as feeling signing over your first born child is a requirement. Hold on – some of you readers are just a bit too excited at the latter possibility….I meant it figuratively, not literally!

One of our clients is applying for a building permit in Clackamas County, Oregon.

DISCLAIMER – The purpose of this article is NOT to pick at the Clackamas County Building Codes Division, as this particular scenario can happen in any jurisdiction where structural plan reviews are a part of the process for obtaining a permit to build.

As far as building permits for post frame (pole) buildings go, my 35 years of working with Clackamas County tells me they are pretty decent folks to deal with, as long as one follows the rules and submits the required documents. Among these documents are the engineer sealed drawings for the prefabricated roof trusses. (For more “fun with permits” see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2014/06/building-permit-2/ )

When Building Departments issue correction lists to permit applicants, it tends to get clients frazzled. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/07/plan-check/

Here is an actual excerpt from the Plans Examiner in Clackamas County:

“The project referenced above has been reviewed for compliance with the 2014 Oregon Residential Specialty Code (ORSC).

The roof truss engineering sheet submitted by DrJ Engineering LLC was designed as a single member (1-ply) with four interior bearing points along the bottom cord of the truss. Refer to the REACTIONS. Max gravity loads at the interior bearing points 18 (828 lbs), 15(853lbs), 13(1356 lbs) and 10(803 lbs). This roof truss was designed and requires four interior bearing walls below, transferring the reaction loads into a concrete foundation/spread footing.

Please provide the roof truss engineering sheets to include the following,

  • A roof truss that spans the 45 feet and is designed with all loads (reactions) transferred to the exterior walls at bearing points 1 and 9.
  • The pole building and all details were designed with 2-ply (double) trusses spanning the 45 feet. Provide a statement from the pole building designer allowing the single member truss for all details indicated throughout the construction plans.
  • Include the gable end truss with engineering sheet.”


I don’t know about you, gentle reader, but this (in my humble opinion) would scare the daylights out of the average person applying for a building permit!

As is the most common case – the client submitted everything required, all of the engineer sealed plans and calculations, the sealed truss drawings as well as a truss placement plan provided by the truss manufacturer.

Somehow, only one of the nine pages of drawings relating to the trusses were looked at by the Plans Examiner – and it was for a single (one-ply) end truss……resulting in the document above being sent to the client.

There are times when turning just another page would simplify life!

Obtaining a Building Permit Around the World

Building Permits Around the World

One might have the mistaken idea obtaining a Building Permit is the same pretty well anywhere in the United States. Unless you have had the opportunity to be involved in construction in various locales across the country, you might have the idea what happens where you are in “the norm”.

One thing I have learned is, norm is not Norm!

building permitHere in Roberts county, South Dakota a minimum of $20 will obtain a building permit from the county clerk – no plans, no inspections and same hour service. Get to the I-5 corridor in Washington, Oregon and California, a permit for the same sized building could cost thousands of dollars and involve a several month wait for someone to come to your property to do a wetlands evaluation! I’ve seen permits take up to a year to be issued in California!!

My friend Dom, in Ecuador, recently obtained a building permit, and shares his experience:

“Building permits can be tough in Ecuador, but they can also be ridiculously easy.

Depends a bit on the project and the municipal where it´s located.

In my experience, the municipal in Playas Villamil is really a pain.  Quito not so much.  While the municipals in Santa Elena (Salinas area), and Jipijapa (for area of coast south of Manta) are pretty easy.

My experience this week at the municipal of Jipijapa getting a permit to build my 170m2 (1829ft2) house on a 330m2 (3552ft2) lot was pretty straightforward.

The hardest part was the week or two wait for the municipal to send an inspector to define the construction limits or as they say here “linea de fabrica”.  It helped that my architect knew someone in the municipal who owed him a favor (I guess).  

Once that happened I had to go to the municipal with a signed official copy of the architectural plan which after heavy negotiating cost me $500 for a plan guaranteed the municipal would approve.  If not, he´d redo it.

Plus, I had to take several copies of the property deed (escritura), certificate of registry (certificado del registro de la propiedad), electrical plan also made by the architect, and a copy of the 2015 property tax payment (predios) which for my property cost well under $100.

Altogether the permit cost $135 and took 3 days.

The requirements are basically the same all over Ecuador but every municipal will have their particularities.

So now on the blueprints, permit, the 2015 tax payment and a few other minor things I´ve now spent a total of $900.

And now I´m also ready to build!”

No matter where you are in the world, some advance preparedness when planning to build is always a good choice. Do this first – it will save you a potential world of hurt later:

A few more words of wisdom: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/01/planning-department-3/

Anyone have any experiences in another country? Canada or Mexico perhaps? Please write me, I’d love to hear about it

Building Foundation Problems

The NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) recently published an article to provide advice on the causes of structural issues. The article, “Lessons Learned From 10,000 Structural Claims”, was developed from a presentation given to the NAHB Building Product Issues Committee last September by its author, Walt Keaveny.

There was some information in the article which utterly astounded me. According to Keaveny, 25% of all U.S. homes will experience some structural distress over their lifetime, and 5% will experience major structural difficulties. Even more telling is some 80% of structural claims are caused by movement of the building foundation which is due to movement of underlying soils.

Now to me, it is seemingly unfathomable so many homes would have foundation issues!

Sadly, probably even less care is given by building owners and contractors to the soils at the sites where they will be constructing new pole buildings. Far too often the only consideration is to scrape off any sod where the building will be placed, and build!

In my over three decades in the post frame industry, I have seen more than a few pole buildings whose eave lines zig-zag up and down due to one or more columns having shifted after the building was completed.

In areas where soils are weak or expansive, I have listened to many complaints by potential building owners whose Building Officials are requiring geotechnical investigations to assess the strength of the soil. While having an engineer perform these tests is not inexpensive, in comparison to costs of a building settling, spending a few dollars up front in prevention, is a lot better than having to try to cure the problem once it exists.

The clues to a good pole building foundation, are knowing with a high degree of certainty the actual soil bearing capacity and having footings below the columns which are adequate in area to be able to distribute the weight of the building (plus associated loads like snow) across the soil.  It also means adequate site preparation, at a minimum:

Remove all sod and vegetation.

  • For idea site preparation, remove topsoil and stockpile for later use in finish grading. In frost prone areas, remove any clays or silty soil from within the future building “footprint”.
  • Replace subsoil removed from around building with granulated fill to help drain subsurface water from building.
  • Distribute all fill, large debris free (no pit run), uniformly around site in layers no deeper than six inches.
  • Compact each layer to a minimum 90% of a Modified Proctor Density before next layer is added. Usually, adequate compaction takes more than driving over fill with a dump truck, or earth moving equipment.
  • When any building portion sits on fill, rest columns, as well as any concrete encasement, on or in undisturbed soil. In many cases, building inspectors will require a soils engineer to confirm compaction adequacy on filled sites. Soils engineers can be expensive, but are even more costly when called in to do analysis “after the fact”.

Most importantly, be certain to know local Building Department requirements before starting to move dirt!