The "How to Open a Business in Sandy" Guide Step 4

Economic Development Dept: (503) 489-2159  •  Building Dept: (503) 668-0880

Step 4 – Meet with the City Building Official

It is required by the City of Sandy that all new businesses undergo a fire/life safety inspection by the City’s Building Official.  The purpose of this inspection is to ensure that your building meets minimum standards for fire safety and life safety.  To schedule a fire/life safety inspection, simply call the Building Department at (503) 668-0880.

The Building Official will also be looking at ADA compliance, health issues, and whether or not this new business constitutes a “change of use” during this inspection.  If you plan on making any changes to the interior of your building, you may also take this time to inform the Building Official of any improvements you wish to make (see Step 5: Remodeling Your Building for more information on this).

Fire/Life Safety

The Building Official will be looking at the layout of your building to make sure that there is an adequate level of fire suppression equipment available, and that there are sufficient ways to exit the building safely in the event of an emergency.

  • For more information and a list of common issues found in a fire/life safety inspection, click here.
  • For an example of the checklist our Building Department uses for fire/life safety inspections, click here.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance

The State of Oregon (in compliance with the federal government) requires cities to compel local business owners to make improvements to help make their businesses more accessible to the disabled.   State regulations require that business owners spend up to 25% of the total budget of any remodeling project on upgrades to ADA accessibility.

  • For more information and a list of common ADA upgrades, click here.
  • To go to the ADA section of the State of Oregon Building Code, click here.

“Change of Use”

The City Building Official will also determine if your business constitutes a “change of use” for the building you are moving into.  A change of use occurs when a commercial space has a change of occupancy, and the new occupant has a different type of business than the previous occupant.  For example, if a building owner has a car audio business move out of their building and a restaurant moves in to take its place, that action would constitute a change of use.  If that same building owner has a Thai restaurant move out of their building and a BBQ restaurant moves in to take its place, that action would not constitute a change of use because both businesses are restaurants.  If your business does constitute a change of use, the Building Official will instruct you on how to proceed.

One of the most important potential outcomes of a change of use is that system development charges (SDCs) may apply.  SDCs are charges assessed when the utility load of a business is such that new meters are required due to the need for increased capacity.  For example, if you are moving a coin-operated laundromat into a building that previously housed a retail bicycle store, chances are pretty good that you will need larger inputs and meters for your water and sewer service than what currently exists.  In that specific case, SDCs would apply.

Completing your fire/life safety inspection

At the end of the Fire/Life Safety inspection, the Building Official will provide you with a list of improvements to complete before a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) and business license can be issued.  When you've completed your list, contact the Building Department at (503) 668-0880 to schedule a final inspection.  Once the Building Official confirms that you have made all of the necessary improvements, you will be issued a Certificate of Occupancy and your business license, and you may open for business assuming you do not wish to make any other improvements or upgrades to the property that will require permitting.  If you do wish to make additional upgrades (such as moving non-load bearing walls, adding or replacing bathrooms, commercial equipment, plumbing fixtures, etc.) continue on to Step 5: Remodeling Your Building.

link Go back to Step 3: Meet with the Economic Development Department

link Go to Step 5: Remodeling Your Building