Working with Your Contractor & Planning Department

Construction on bluff copyCheck with your city or county building department whenever you are planning any clearing or development near the shoreline, to see what their requirements are regarding setbacks, buffers, clearing and grading. Most cities and counties require you to preserve natural vegetation along shorelines. There may also be additional restrictions placed by your homeowners association, if you belong to one.

Whether you are hiring a general contractor or are acting as your own general contractor and hiring subcontractors, you will need to obtain appropriate permits. It is important to make sure your contractor has experience with all steps in the shoreline permitting process, and that you have checked references. If you are acting as your own general contractor, you may want to hire a consultant to guide you through the permit process. Check with your local planning department to see if they offer a Pre-Application Conference, where you can meet with staff and discuss your development proposal before you submit your formal application. Most cities and counties in the Puget Sound area offer this, which may be free or may require a fee. Depending on the project, the meeting may allow you to ask questions of staff from the health, planning, and building departments. Other staff from federal, state, or city jurisdictions may be asked to attend to help with specific issues. There is likely a Pre-Application Checklist that you will need to fill out prior to requesting a conference or meeting, which will include information and maps about your proposed construction or clearing activity.