Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions relative to building issues can be complicated, as each situation must be considered in light of its own circumstances. Answers to some of the more frequently asked questions can be found below. If, after reading the information below your questions remain, Building Division staff are available to answer all your questions Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Building Division is located at 1350 McKittrick Street, in the Wenatchee Public Service Center.

You may contact us by telephone at: (509) 888-3244

Q. I need to know the specifications for building in Wenatchee's climate.
A:

Roof Snow Load 40 lbs per square foot
Climate Zone 5B
Design Wind Speed 85 mph
Wind Exposure C
Seismic Zone C (Residential) / D (Commercial)
Soil Pressure 1,500 lbs per square foot assumed
Freeze Depth 18" for footings and foundations
Depth of Waterline At least 3 feet, and 5 feet if under a driveway

Q. Do I need a permit before I begin my project?
A: Generally speaking, if you have to ask, you probably need to secure a permit. Permits are required for any building or structure which is to be erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted, or demolished unless a separate permit for each building or structure has been first obtained from this department.

Q. What work, if any, is exempt from a permit?
A: There are some types of projects considered exempt from the permit process. These exemptions include:

  1. Residential one-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, not containing sleeping accommodations, plumbing or any type of residential use and have a 5 foot minimum separation from any other structures and property lines, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet.
  2. Commercial one-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, not containing sleeping accommodations, plumbing or any type of residential use and have a 10 foot minimum separation from any other structures and property lines, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet.
  3. Oil derricks
  4. Retaining walls not exceeding four 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, unless located within a shoreline area.
  5. 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.
  6. Platforms, walks and driveways not more than 30 inches above grade and not over any basement or story below.
  7. Painting, papering and similar finish work.
  8. Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.
  9. Window awnings supported by an exterior wall and not projecting more than 54 inches.
  10. Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a single-family home in which the pool walls are entirely above the adjacent grade, and if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons.
  11. Decks that are not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade at any point and that does not serve the exit door required by Section R311.2. Adjacent grade shall mean the grade within 36 inches horizontally of the deck.

Please note: A permit exemption does not preclude you from other regulations. For example, there are setback rules outlining where you are allowed to put an accessory structure, such as a tool shed, and rules for building along shorelines. You are still required to operate within these rules, but you do not have to get a building permit for exempt work.

Q. The trap on my kitchen sink is leaking. Do I need to secure a permit to replace it?
A: No, a permit is generally required when the work involves moving a fixture, installing new fixtures or installing drain lines or water-supply piping.

Q. My furnace failed and since it was a Saturday, I bought a new one exactly like the old one and installed it myself over the weekend. The weather was cold and my family needed the heat. Am I going to be fined for installing the furnace without a permit?
A: Emergency repairs or replacements can be done immediately. However, if a permit would normally be required, then you should obtain the permit as soon as the repair or replacement is completed to confirm by inspection that the installation meets the code requirements.

The Building Division is here to provide a service and answer any questions you may have about your project. Please contact us at (509) 888-3244 so that we may assist you.