Frequently Asked Questions

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Below is a list of the most commonly requested home owner improvements. For more complex development or less   common improvements you should contact the Building Department at 503-668-0880 or email nrobinson@ci.sandy.or.us. 

Residential Accessory Structures

A Residential Accessory Structure is a structure that is clearly incidental to and subordinate to the main use of property and located on the same lot as the main use.

Uncertified Woodstoves

As of August 1, 2010, Oregon law requires you to remove an uncertified woodstove or fireplace insert if you are selling your home. The City of Sandy Building Department does not require a permit to remove your uncertified woodstove, but does require a permit to install a new or replacement woodstove.

 filecabinet Building Permit Application
 filecabinet Mechanical Permit Application
 filecabinet Plumbing Permit Application
 filecabinet Credit Card Authorization Form

Frequently Used Resources

link Informational Materials

link Permits

link Questions and Answers

Fences

Do I need a building permit to install my fence?

Only fences in excess of seven (7) feet in height require a building permit.

I own a house and would like to install a fence. What are the regulations?

Residential Standards:

1. Fences on corner lots. Any fence or retaining wall, constructed upon or adjacent to any property line that abuts two or more intersecting streets, shall not exceed 30 inches in height within the clear vision area.

2. Fences in a required front yard. The height of a fence or retaining wall in a required front yard shall not exceed 4 ft.

3. Fences - side and rear yards abutting streets. The height of a fence or retaining wall in a required side or rear yard abutting a public right-of-way shall not exceed 6 ft.

4. Fences - side and rear yards abutting other lots. The height of a fence or retaining wall in a required side or rear yard abutting other lots shall not exceed 8 ft.

5. Sight Obscuring Hedges. Trees or shrubs that form a sight-obscuring hedge shall comply with the same height requirement as a fence within the clear vision area. Deciduous trees separated by at least 15 ft. may grow to any height.

6. Front Yard Fences for Existing Dwellings on Major Arterials. The height of a fence in a required front yard for an existing dwelling (constructed prior to July 1, 1996) facing a major arterial shall not exceed a height of 6 ft. outside the clear vision area.

7. Fences on Through Lots. Gates are required in rear-yard fences on through-lots since it remains the property owners’ responsibility to maintain the area from the curb or edge of pavement to a proposed fence.

I own a commercial establishment and would like to install a fence. What are the regulations?

Commercial/Industrial Standards:

1. Fences on corner lots. Any fence or retaining wall, constructed upon or adjacent to any property line that abuts two or more intersecting streets, shall not exceed 30 inches in height within the clear vision area.

2. Fences in a required front yard. The height of a fence or retaining wall in a required front yard shall not exceed 4 ft.

3. Fences - Side and Rear Yards. The height of a fence or retaining wall in a required side street, side or rear yard or adjacent to a side or rear property line shall not exceed 8 ft.

4. Sight Obscuring Hedges. Trees or shrubs that form a sight-obscuring hedge shall comply with the same height requirement as a fence within the clear vision area. Deciduous trees separated by at least 15 ft. may grow to any height.

Why does my neighborhood park have a taller fence around the basketball court than I am allowed to install around my yard?

Any recreational court may be enclosed by a wire fence not exceeding 12 ft. in height provided that no part of the court fence is within 20 ft. of any street.

I am going to install a swimming pool. Do I need a fence and if so what are the regulations?

A swimming pool, hot tub or other man-made outside body of water, which has a depth greater than 18 inches shall be enclosed with a fence not less than 4 ft. and not more than 8 ft. in height. If located on or surrounded by a deck, the deck shall be enclosed with a railing with a height of not less than 4 feet and not more than 8 feet. The fence or railing shall not have any openings, holes or gaps larger than three inches square, except for doors or gates. Any gate shall be equipped with a selfclosing, self-latching device. A dwelling unit and/or accessory building may form part of the enclosure.

Exception: This regulation does not apply to wetland areas and storm water detention facilities. However, fencing requirements may be imposed through the design review process.

I want to install a barbed wire fence at my industrial storage facility. What are the regulations?

Barbed wire fencing may be permitted for agricultural, community service, commercial or industrial uses when the wire is employed on the top of any other type of fencing, and when the barbed wire is a minimum of 6 ft. above the finished ground surface, and does not extend over a public way. The maximum height shall not exceed 8 ft.

I want to install an electric fence around my back yard. What are the regulations?

No electrically charged or sharp pointed fencing such as razor wire (other than barbed wire fencing) shall be constructed or maintained within the city limits.

Residential Accessory Structures

Do I need a permit before I install my new residential accessory structure?

Residential accessory structures that are 200 square feet or smaller, and no higher than 10 feet at the half way point of the roof do not require a building permit.

Important Note: Garages, carports or like structures that have the ability to contain a motor vehicle require a building permit regardless of the size or height of the structure.

What if my residential accessory structure is over 200 square feet and 11 feet at the half way point of the roof?

Residential accessory structures that are over 200 square feet or over 10 feet high at the half way point of the roof need a building permit.

What is the setback distance for residential accessory structures?

1. Accessory structures shall comply with the setback requirements for the main building except where specifically modified by Development Code Section 17.74.

2. No accessory structure shall be located in a required front yard or side yard setback, except where specifically modified by Development Code Section 17.74.

3. An accessory structure on a corner lot shall meet a minimum street side yard setback except for private vehicle storage.

Decks/Patios

I am installing a deck on the rear of my house. Do I need a building permit?

Decks greater than 30 inches in height require a building permit for structural review and land use development review.

What if I install a patio, do I need a building permit?

Uncovered patios do not require a building permit, but rain water may not sheet flow off of patio surfaces on to neighboring property.

Covered patios require a building permit.

How close to the property line can I install my deck?

Decks may encroach into required yard areas as follows:

Front Yard - 5 feet
Side Yard - 2.5 feet
Rear Yard decks at ground level or 30 inches in height or less - 5 feet
Rear Yard decks greater than 30 inches in height or at second story or above - 10 feet
Rear Yard covered porch - 10 feet

Retaining Walls

I am installing a retaining wall to support the flower bed next to my home. Do I need a building permit?

Yes. Retaining walls over four (4) feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing or that are supporting a surcharge (see PDF below) shall be approved through a building permit. Retaining walls that require a permit will need to be engineered by an Oregon State registered engineer.

filecabinet Retaining Wall Handout.pdf

I want to build a short retaining wall in my back yard to hold some flowers. Do I need a building permit?

Maybe. If the retaining wall is less than four (4) feet in height and there is no surcharge pushing against the retaining wall then a permit is not necessary.

filecabinet Retaining Wall Handout.pdf

Wood Stoves

What is the Heat Smart Program?

The 2009 Oregon Legislature passed a law requiring the removal of any uncertified woodstove from a home when it is sold. This law helps protect people from unnecessary woodsmoke pollution.

Why are uncertified woodstoves a concern?

Uncertified woodstoves burn about 70 percent dirtier than certified woodstoves. They also burn far less efficiently and require more fuel than newer, certified stoves. These older, polluting stoves can remain in service for dozens of years. Removing them from service would help Oregon's efforts to restore and preserve healthy air and save homeowners money.

What are the health concerns with woodstove smoke?

Wintertime residential wood burning is a significant source of air pollution, including fine particulates and air toxics. At times, heavy smoke from residential wood burning in a community can exceed federal air quality health standards for particulate matter. Particulate matter in woodstove smoke can be easily inhaled and reach the deepest part of our lungs; it is known to cause or contribute to respiratory disease, asthma attacks, heart problems, and premature death. Wood smoke also contains toxic organic compounds known to cause cancer.

What should I know about buying a home with an uncertified wood heating device?
  • If the homeowner/seller has an uncertified woodstove device in any building on the residential property being sold, he or she must remove and destroy it before the close of sale.
  • The seller must also give you, the buyer, the seller's disclosure form indicating whether there is a wood burning device on the property.
  • It is the seller's responsibility to remove the uncertified wood burning device unless you and the seller agree that you, the buyer, will be responsible for removing the stove. If so, you must remove and destroy the uncertified wood burning device within 30 days after the closing date of sale.
  • The buyer must also:
    • Get a receipt indicating you have destroyed the stove.
    • Submit the notification form to DEQ.

For more information on removal of woodstoves please visit the Department of Environmental Quality Air Quality Division website or contact them by phone at 1-800-452-4011.