Do I have to have a license to do work on my own home?
No. A homeowner *(who owns and occupies the house) may do any or all of the work (building, plumbing, mechanical [heating and air conditioning], and electrical). If you are not sure of your abilities to do any or all of the work, it is recommended that you hire a licensed professional.
* This does not apply to plumbing and electrical work done by renters, landlords, their employees, or other persons who do not own and occupy the home (they must have an appropriate license).
Do I have to have my plans drawn by a Professional Designer, Architect or Engineer?
No. The owner or anyone they choose may draw the plans as long as they are clear and detailed enough to indicate what and how the project will be built. In some cases, the complexity of the project may require the skills of a professional. If the plans include the need for new beams, lateral support (earthquake or wind resistance), and they are not designed using standard software or prescriptive designs obtained from the building code, an engineer or architect will need to provide calculations for those items.
Often there is a misunderstanding between the contractor and owner as to who is responsible for obtaining the permits. Be sure it is clear who is responsible. If the contractor were to be responsible for obtaining the permits, it would be wise to have the contractor provide proof they did so. The owner will ultimately be responsible for the work on their property.
Do I need a permit for my project?
A building permit is required to construct, enlarge, alter, move or demolish any one- or two-family dwelling or related structure.
An electrical permit is required to do the following: 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.
A plumbing permit is required to do the following: 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.
A mechanical permit is required for the following: Install or change any part of a heating or cooling system that must be vented into any kind of chimney, including un-vented 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.
Fence permits are issued by the Hillsboro Planning Department. You can contact them at (503) 681-6153. If the fence you are building is over six feet high, you also need to get a building permit from the Hillsboro Building Department. You can find additional information on the Planning Department web site.
If you are not sure you need a permit, call the jurisdiction responsible for your area. City of Hillsboro (503) 681-6144; Washington County (503) 846-3470.
How much does a permit cost?
The minimum fee for Electrical, Plumbing and Mechanical permits is $64.90. There is a state surcharge of 12% of the permit fee, which is $7.79. This totals to $72.69. If the amount of services purchased exceeds $64.90, then the cost per item/service purchased would be added to the $64.90 minimum. If your project requires a plan review, then an additional 25% of the permit fee is added.
Building permits are based on the value of the work performed. This includes the equipment, materials, labor, overhead, and the profit for the work indicated.
If I am having my project done by a licensed contractor, should I rely on my contractor to get the permits?
Permits ensure that a certified inspector inspects the construction project or installation. Inspections help make sure work is done safely and to code. Inspections not only reveal minor problems that could lead to costly repairs, but also liability and life-safety concerns like structural weaknesses, dangerous wiring, or defective plumbing. Incorrect installations can result in house fires, flood damage, and/or structural problems.
When it comes to selling a house, realtors and lenders may require that any construction work is done with permits to ensure that the house is safe for future occupants. If work is not permitted, instead of closing on your home, you'll have to scramble to catch up with permits and inspections and additional repair work if the installations weren't made to code.
If I remodel my house, do I have to bring the entire home up to the codes in effect today?
No. Only the new portion must meet the current codes unless the remodel creates a hazard for the existing building, such as overloading an existing beam.
If I take out a permit to remodel a home built ten years ago, do I build to the code in effect when the home was originally built?
No. The new work must be constructed under the codes in effect today.
Is my property in Hillsboro City limits?
You can use Hillsboro Maps to locate an address. Type in an address in the Street Number field, and click on the Search button. The address will display in the bottom frame of the screen. Click on Property Info, and it will display the Jurisdiction.
You can also contact the Planning Department at 503-681-6153. Be prepared to give the street address or the Tax Lot I.D. of the property.
What can I build without a permit?
You do not need a permit to do the following minor repairs and maintenance on a one- or two-family dwelling.
Note: Even though a permit is not required, the project must still comply with all the applicable construction and zoning codes.
Permits are not required for the following when related to single family homes which do not encroach over a subsurface drain system, public utility easement, or into required setbacks from property lines:
Paint buildings that are not historic landmarks.
Blow insulation into existing homes.
Put up storm windows.
Install window awnings not more than 54 inches deep (and not in a design zone) that are supported by an exterior wall and do not project beyond the property line.
Replace interior wall, floor, or ceiling covering, such as wallboard or sheet vinyl.
Put up shelving and cabinets.
Install gutters and downspouts (A plumbing permit may still be required for storm water disposal.
Replace or repair siding on a wall that is three feet or more from a property line.
Replace or repair roofing, if there is no replacement of sheathing (a maximum of three layers of roofing is allowed).
Replace doors or windows if the existing openings aren't widened.
Pave a walkway.
Build a patio or deck that is not more than 30 inches above grade.
A shop or shed that is under 200 square feet and under 10 feet high, and not attached to the house. Any electrical work done will still require an electrical permit. Please contact the Planning Department for any questions on property set-backs at (503) 681-6153.
What if I made an alteration to my home without realizing I needed a permit and want to correct the situation - will I be subject to a fine? Do I have to tear the whole project down and start over?
Penalties can be levied for those who refuse to comply with the law. The Building Department would rather see a building conform to the code than punish a homeowner. If a homeowner discovers that they did not obtain a permit when required, they do not necessarily have to tear the project down and start over. If the alteration can meet the applicable codes, they will be approved. Our inspectors won't necessarily approve something they cannot see and may require small sections of wall or roof covering be removed to verify the construction meets the code. There can be no guarantee that some changes may need to be made, and some may not be easy to accomplish.
When do I need a mechanical permit?
A mechanical permit is required for the installation or modification of any heating or cooling system, such as an air conditioner (except models designed to be installed in a window and plugged into an electrical outlet) or furnace.
When do I need a permit for building a deck?
If any part of the deck is more than 30 inches above grade, you must get a building permit.
When do I need a plumbing permit?
A plumbing permit is required to install or replace any plumbing fixtures such as a sink, water heater, or lawn irrigation system. A permit is also required if additional water or waste piping is installed or repaired.
When do I need an electrical permit?
Electrical permits are required any time electrical wires are directly connected to the house electrical system, such as a new light fixture or electrical outlet. This includes extending wires off an existing circuit. Low voltage wiring such as security systems or stereo wiring also requires a permit. Permits are not required for replacing a fuse or repairing an appliance cord.
Why do I need inspections? Do I have to pay for these inspections?
Inspections are required at various stages of the project to see that the work is following the approved plans and codes. There is no additional charge for the inspections, they have been paid for with the permit fees.
Why should I use a licensed contractor?
For one thing, any contracted person doing work who is not currently registered with the State Construction Contractors Board is doing so illegally. Would you want this type of person working on your home? Another reason is the registration provides some protection to the homeowner from being charged for work and materials not provided or paying twice for them (material suppliers and subcontractors can place a lien on your home if they do not receive payment from your contractor). There are also trade licenses for those persons doing plumbing and electrical work to provide some assurance that they have adequate knowledge and training in those fields.
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