A single family home under construction next to blueprint plans

Residential Building Permits

Why is a permit required?

Many projects require a City of Vancouver permit before beginning the work. Permits and inspections help preserve property values and enhance health and safety of the community.

When is a permit required?

A building permit is generally required when changes or alterations are made to a residential* building or when any new construction is undertaken. Electrical, mechanical and plumbing work also require permits and inspections. A permit may also be required to turn utilities back on after a fire.

All projects, whether they need a permit or not, must comply with the adopted building codes and regulations and the Vancouver Municipal Code (VMC).

*Residential is defined as 1 or 2 single family dwelling units, (or zero-lot line townhomes), and is subject to review under the International Residential Code (IRC).

Many projects require a residential building permit. The scopes of work listed below are typical residential projects and not a comprehensive list. If you're not sure if a permit is required, please contact our Permit Center at permitcenter@cityofvancouver.us or (360) 487-7802.

When is a residential permit required?

  • New construction of a single family dwelling
  • New construction of a duplex or accessory dwelling unit
  • Additions, alterations and remodels to existing structures
  • Adding a garage, carport or deck/patio cover
  • Adding or removing wall(s)
  • Converting basement, attic or garage to a living space
  • Changing the footprint of an existing structure in any way
  • Adding a second story
  • Sheathing repair/replacement

When is a residential permit not required?**

  • Fences (6' tall or less)
  • Decks (18" or less above grade)
  • Sheds (120 sq. ft. or less)
  • Painting, carpeting, cabinets, countertops and similar finish work
  • Patio and concrete slabs on the ground (on grade)
  • Single family and duplex re-roof or siding (not including sheathing)
  • Window replacement (same size)

**Work exempt from permit still needs to meet building code requirements as well as local code requirements (setbacks, height, etc.).

+ Residential Building Permit Process

1. Submit for Permit

Plans are taken in for routing and review. To have your project reviewed, bring your completed Building Permit Application form, plans including additional materials, and required fees to the Permit Center. You can also submit electronically via ePlans. When review fees are paid, your project status is changed to "In Review" and assigned to review staff.

2. Plan Review

Depending on your proposed project, plans will be reviewed by various disciplines. Types of reviews include planning and zoning, structural and fire. The assigned reviewers check to see that your proposal is in compliance with the specific code or regulation. If the reviewer needs additional information or has identified corrections they will request information from you in writing in the form of a comment letter (see step 2a.)

2a. Comment Letter

A comment letter is sent when a reviewer needs additional information or a correction needs to be made to the plans. Once a comment letter is sent the reviewer takes no further action until you provide a response to the comment letter.

2b. Revise Plans

Once you receive a comment letter and have gathered all of the additional information and/or made the requested corrections, bring the information to the Permit Center*. Complete and timely responses will speed up the re-review of the project.
If the revisions are complete, the reviewer will sign off and the project will move on in the process (see step 3). If the reviewer needs additional information or has identified additional corrections they will request this information from you in writing in another comment letter (return to steps 2a and 2b).

3. Plans Approved, Permit Issued

When all required reviews are approved, your permit will be in pre-issue status and you will be notified of your final fee total and that your permit is ready. You may pick up your permit* at the Permit Center, located on the 1st floor of City Hall at 415 W. 6th Street, Vancouver, WA 98660
(Permit Center hours: Monday-Friday 8 am-4 pm; Wednesday 9 am-4 pm Closed daily from 12:30-1:30 pm)

4. Inspections

When you pick up your permit*, you will receive an inspection card listing all of the inspections you will need during construction. Inspections can be scheduled online or by calling (360) 619-1200. When all of your inspections are approved, you will receive a final inspection and your project is complete.

* Steps completed electronically when utilizing ePlans.

+ Things to Consider

The permit process differs for each permit type and may also vary depending on how complex your project is. These steps are a general guideline to follow to apply for a permit. You can submit most applications electronically using ePlans.


Always check the jurisdiction of the property online to determine whether it is inside City limits.

Are there any site constraints on your project?

Please contact Land Use Planning at (360) 487-7803, for questions regarding:

  • Determine your property's zoning and other site criteria
  • Critical Areas
  • CCR's and/or neighborhood rules and regulations, (these are regulated by private agreement and not enforced by the City.)
  • Do you have a well and/or septic system on-site? (These programs are managed by Clark County Health.)
Prepare Your Plans
  • Clearly drawn plans accurately describing all of your proposed work will be required
  • Determine which permit forms are required based on your proposed residential project


Electrical, Mechanical and/or Plumbing Work

Residential building permits can include trade work such as: electrical, mechanical and/or plumbing work, (if applicable.) Individual trade permits are not always necessary.


When is Engineering Required?

Under the International Residential Code (IRC) when a project does not comply with the prescriptive structural provisions engineering is required. Under certain conditions based on site locations, soil conditions, scope of work and the proposed design engineered drawings, details and calculations may be required.

Structural engineering shall include engineered drawings, details, layouts, calculations, lateral analysis and gravity load design. Two (2) copies are required. Engineering calculations shall be based on design loads and shall be noted on structural plans and calculations.

Following are some examples of when engineering is required. However, there are other instances when engineering will be required.

  • Pole buildings
  • Insulated Concrete Form (ICFs) wall construction
  • Structural Insulated Panel (SIPs) wall and roof construction
  • Dormers and second floor additions
  • Moving or removing walls, beams or headers
  • Decks over 9' from grade to underside of beams
  • Decks supporting hot tubs and cantilevered decks
  • Second story decks - new or replacement
  • Retaining walls over 4' in height or subject to a surcharge
  • Depending on site location, soil conditions, presence of fill or tree removal a soils report from a Geo-tech engineer may be required

If you're not sure if engineering is required, please contact our Permit Center at permitcenter@cityofvancouver.us or (360) 487-7802



Grading permits are required for nearly all projects that include the disturbing or moving of more than 10 cubic yards of earth or vegetation.

+ What's needed? (submittal requirements)

The following items will need to be submitted when applying for a residential building permit:

  • Completed and signed application (property owner signature is required)
  • Fees associated with the application
  • Two complete sets of clearly drawn plans accurately describing all of your proposed work. Most proposed residential projects will also require a site plan.
  • Energy code forms
  • Licensed contractor information (if available)

+ Codes, Design Requirements, Setbacks

Development in the City of Vancouver requires conformance with all adopted building codes, all land use regulations, and the City's design and construction standards.

Building Codes and Regulations

Vancouver Municipal Code - Title 20 (Land Use and Development)

Vancouver Municipal Code - Title 17 (Building and Construction)

+ Septic Systems and Wells

These programs are managed by Clark County Public Health.

For additional information regarding on-site septic systems please visit: site septic systems
For additional information regarding private wells please visit: drinking water and wells

+ Fees

The cost of your permit is based on several factors. For a project specific fee quote please complete the Building Permit Fee Quote form.