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Residential Building Permits

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Permit Process

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. 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).

Electrical, mechanical and plumbing work also require permits and inspections, if the work is part of a remodel or new construction then it is included in your building permit. Single trade permits not related to a building permit can be purchased by the property owner or a licensed contractor through ePermits.

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

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 or 360-487-7833.

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
  • Adding or replacing a driveway or RV pad

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.).

What do I need for a residential building permit?

Learn about all the plans and drawings you will need to have in order to apply for a residential building permit.

Residential Building Permit Process

1. Submit for Permit

Email your completed application (do not send plans at this time) to When your application is processed you will receive an email with the fees and application number.

​Please visit our ePlans Getting Started page for step-by-step instructions.

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 you will receive an email from ePlans identifying items required.

2a. Revise Plans

Once you receive an email from ePlans letting you know that revisions are required you will respond to the reviewers comments and upload revisions and/or additional information in ePlans.

Please visit our ePlans Applicant Resubmit page for step-by-step instructions.

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 2 and 2a).

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. After the balance is paid the plans submitter will receive an email notice letting them know that the approved plans and permit are available for download in ePlans.

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 360-487-7890. When all of your inspections are approved, you will receive a final inspection and your project is complete.

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 email Land Use Planning at for questions regarding:

  • Discuss uses allowed on your property
  • Critical Areas
  • Do you have a well and/or septic system on-site? (These programs are managed by Clark County Health.)

Please note that CCR’s and/or neighborhood rules and regulations are regulated by private agreement and not enforced by the City.

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. 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 or 360-487-7804.


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

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
  • 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.

Septic Systems and Wells

These programs are managed by Clark County Public Health.


The cost of your permit is based on several factors. Specifically, permit fees for new construction and additions are established on the calculated value determined by the gross square footage, type of construction and use of the building.

Construction and Plan Considerations

Residential building permits

Learn about all the plans and drawings you will need to have to apply for a residential building permit.

Are You:

  • Adding square footage to an existing structure?
  • Adding a second story?
  • Converting a basement, attic or garage to a living space?
  • Doing any interior remodeling that involves structural work?
  • Adding a separate structure to your property that is over 120 square feet?
  • Adding a carport/deck cover?
  • Changing the footprint of an existing structure in any way?

The following plans are required to get a residential building permit:

  • Site plan
  • Foundation plan
  • Floor plan
  • Building elevation drawings
  • Framing plans
  • Section drawings

All Residential permit applications must be submitted electronically through ePlans.

Private Utility Work

Are you replacing, repairing and/or adding electrical, mechanical or plumbing?

You may need a permit and additional plans, such as floor plans. Email a Permit Specialist at to discuss.


For structures that contain new or revised stairways, stair details must be provided, including the construction materials, structural support and dimension relationships to surrounding construction. This would include the riser height, tread depth, height of the handrail and the clear ceiling height at the lowest point.

Septic Tanks or Wells

If you have a septic tank or water well on your property, you will need to get a clearance letter from the Clark County Public Health and provide that letter to the City when submitting your permit application.

Plans Required by the City

The main goal in drawing your plans is to show all the existing conditions and elements, as well as all the proposed conditions and elements.

Site Plan

The site plan is an overhead view of your property that shows:

  • Property lines
  • All structures within the property lines
  • All paving
  • Utilities
  • Easements
  • Public right-of-way

The site plan shall be drawn to a standard scale and should have the North arrow indicator cleared noted. Setbacks from the proposed structure and/or existing structure to the property lines should be noted. The site plan should clearly indicate the dimensions of existing structures and all proposed work.

There may be additional information required on your site plan specific to your project. Send your site address and any questions to

Foundation Plan

This plan should show the layout, dimensions and details of the continuous concrete slabs, footings, reinforcing steel and the strength of the concrete used.

If you are doing a post and beam foundation, you need to list the dimensions and spans for all beams and provide a post footing detail for the interior post supports, as well as the continuous exterior footing.

Show your ventilation openings and crawl space access location(s) and opening sizes on this plan.

Radon mitigation venting is also required for new structures or additions that are 200 square feet or larger.

Send a message to to request a copy of the radon vent requirements.

Floor Plan

The floor plan is an overhead view of the floor or basement with the roof or floors above it removed. You will need to provide the floor plan for each level of the building. All rooms shall be labeled for the existing and proposed use. Your floor plan should clearly show:

  • Location, size and type of each existing and proposed window
  • Existing and proposed walls
  • Bearing walls, existing headers and beams
  • Stairs, including the riser height, tread depth, total stairway width, lowest level of headroom clearance and the handrail location and height
  • Plumbing fixtures (may be shown on a separate plan)
  • Heating/cooling equipment (may be shown on a separate plan)
  • Electrical outlets and switches (may be shown on a separate plan)
  • Location of smoke/carbon monoxide alarms
  • Existing fixtures, replaced fixtures and new fixtures
  • Water heater type and location
  • Fireplaces, furnaces or other sources of heat

Building Elevation Drawings

Building elevation drawings are exterior views of the building from all sides. Any project that will change the exterior of a building or construct a new building must have elevation drawings.

Drawings should be labeled “Front,” “Back,” “Left,” “Right” AND the compass direction they are facing. Examples:

  • Front/South
  • Back/North

Elevations shall be drawn to 1/4″ (one-quarter inch) = 1″ (one inch) scale. The scale used shall be clearly noted on the plans.

Shall show the level at which the foundation meets the building, the slope of the group for a 10-foot distance away from the building, size of windows and doors, the type of siding and roofing proposed and the height and configuration of railings and similar features on the exterior of a building.

Framing Plans

Framing plans are a scaled overhead view of the vertical and horizontal structural elements that, by repetitive use, create a load-bearing platform or wall. They can include floor framing, wall framing or roof framing.

Framing plans shall include the dimensions, spans and spacing of all framing members. The support for each member and connection details/information shall be clearly noted on the plans.

Where adding new walls, the shear wall shall be clearly identified by both type of shear wall and the length of each shear wall, at each specific shear wall location.

Nails, staples or other manufactured fasteners shall be clearly noted.

If using engineered floor joists, a copy of the manufacturers layout must be included.

Engineered roof truss details that bear the Washington state engineer stamp the roof truss layout referencing the location of each proposed truss must be included.

Section Drawings

Section drawings are sometimes call “cross sections.” They are the view you would get if you made a vertical cut through the building from the bottom of the foundation footing to the top of the roof.

Section drawings are a very useful way of displaying structural load transfers and information about construction materials that are necessary for the permit review process.

Section drawings are mandatory when submitting permit applications for exterior decks, patio covers, carports, etc.

Additional information that should be clearly shown on a section drawing includes:

  • the dimensions of the footing and the depth of the footing below grade
  • the width of the foundation stem wall and the clear height it will rise above the ground before the wall framing begins
  • clear dimensions for crawl space and height of structural framing members above the exposed grade
  • the continuous vapor barrier/radon vent
  • the size and spacing of structural members, such as beams, joists, studs and rafters, which are not shown on other drawings
  • the connection of the floor joist to the foundation footing and/or floor framing joists to the wall framing at upper levels
  • the connection of the roof framing to the double top plate
  • interior and exterior wall, ceiling and roof coverings and finishes
  • slab edge, floor, wall and ceiling insulation
  • ceiling heights
  • eaves, decks and other exterior projections


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