FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ’S)

Building

Q: Why do I need a building permit?
A: There are several reasons for obtaining a building permit for construction. When you receive a permit for work to be performed, you are being provided with a plan review service and inspection. They will ensure the plans and work are complete and that they meet the minimum construction standards as adopted by the City and State. Building permits give yourself and future homeowners peace of mind in knowing that all minimum life safety requirements have been met.
That being said, work done without a permit is not only illegal, but could jeopardize your ability to obtain homeowners insurance or have the damages covered on faulty work.  Potential home buyers may also be dissuaded from purchasing your home for this very reason.

Q: What work does not require a permit?
A: For a full listing of work exempt from permits, please reference the 2006 IRC 105.2 and the 2006 IBC 105.2 or call the Permit Center at 509-720-5240. Some examples are as follows:
  • One-story detached accessory structure used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet.
  • Fences not over 6 feet high.
  • Pre-fabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches deep in Group R.
  • Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II or III-A-liquids
  • Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2:1.
  • Platforms, walks and driveways not more than 30 inches above grade and not over any basement or story below.
  • Uncovered decks not more than 30 inches above grade within a 6 foot radius and not over any basement or story below.
Q: I’m thinking of relocating my business to an existing building in Spokane Valley, will that require a permit?
A: The first thing you may want to do is contact the Planning Department at 509-720-5310, to make sure the parcel you are interested in operating your business out of is allowed in that zone. Once that is verified, it’s time to start thinking about whether or not you will need a permit.
A permit is typically required:
  • When you are maintaining the current occupancy of the space or building, but making interior or exterior alterations to the building.
  • If you are changing the current permitted occupancy.
Requirements for submittal on altering a commercial building can be found at Commercial Tenant Improvements.
If you are however changing the occupancy, a Commercial Pre-Application Meeting will be required.

Q: How and when do I call for an inspection?
A: The Inspection request line phone number is 509-688-0054. Inspections should be requested while the work is accessible and visible. The orange inspection card you received with your building plans detail what inspections are to be preformed and in what order. Requests called in before 7 a.m. will be performed on the same day.

Planning

Q: Can I have animals on my property? (Title 19.40.150)
A: Yes, if your parcel is zoned residential and has a minimum lot size of 40,000 square feet. Dogs and cats do not fit under this criteria. Pot bellied pigs are considered swine and are not allowed in the City.

Q: Can I have a manufactured home on my property?
A: Yes, if your parcel is zoned residential and certain design standards are met (Title 19.40.120).

Q: What are setbacks?
A: Setbacks are areas of the property in which no building can be built. Generally, there are front, side and rear yard setbacks to allow for fire and traffic safety, light and air circulation, privacy and recreation. Setbacks vary by zoning district (zoning map) and use of property.

Q: Is there a process to reduce my setbacks? (click here for more info)
A: Yes, the City calls it an Administrative Exception.  An administrative exception may be considered only for adjustments necessary to correct errors resulting from the inadvertent and unintentional placement of structures or incorrect identification of lot boundaries.

Q: Why do you need such a detailed site plan?
A: Whether you’re building a new residence, detached shop or a deck the City uses the site plan as a historical document for future reviews and public records requests. The requested items on a site plan provide staff with the information to determine setbacks from property lines and any existing structures, property dimensions, number of structures, and square footage of those structures.

Q: How big of a shop can I build on my property? (Title 19.40.090)
A: First, the accessory structure (shop) shall be on the same parcel as a residence. The combined footprint of all accessory structures in residential zoning districts shall not exceed ten (10) percent of the total parcel size.

Q: What is a legal lot? (Title 20.20.030)
A: A legal lot is created in compliance with applicable state and local land segregation statutes or codes in effect at the time the lot was created or binding site plan was approved.

Q: What is a binding site plan (BSP)? (click here for more info)
A: A BSP is a division of commercial or industrial land, legally obligating a property/owner to conditions, standards or requirements for development.

Q: What is a short subdivision? (click here for more info)
A: A short subdivision is a legal document, dividing land and resulting in the creation of two to nine lots.

Q: What is a subdivision? (click here for more info)
A: A subdivision is a legal document, dividing land and resulting in the creation 10 or more lots. 

Development Engineering

Q: Next to me is a public street that does not go through. Will I be required to dedicate property for the street to continue?
A: If there is a public street on the adjoining parcel, you may be required to dedicate right-of-way and border easements for street connectivity.

Q: How much do I get paid to dedicate right-of way and border easements?
A: When required, rights-of-way and border easements are donated to the City of Spokane Valley for the development of the community. No monetary compensation is provided.

Q: Can frontage improvements be deferred?
A: Frontage improvements cannot be deferred. However, if located in an area where sewer improvements are to be made in the near future, you may, with the City’s approval, enter into an agreement to construct improvements after the sewer has been installed.

Q: Can I take direct access to a fronting principal or minor arterial?
A: Typically, a maximum of 2 access points are permitted per street frontage. However, access to arterials may be further restricted.  Refer to the Spokane Valley Street Standards Section 7.8 for design criteria for approaches.

Q: Where can I find design standards?
A: Codes and design standards can be found here.

Q: Where can I find more information?
A: Please visit the Permit Center and Development Engineering website.

Spokane Valley City Hall  ·  11707 E. Sprague Ave, Suite 106  ·  Spokane Valley, WA 99206  ·  Phone: 509-921-1000  ·  Email: cityhall@spokanevalley.org
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