Washington County Planning Department Information and Frequently Asked Questions

About Codes


2009 IBC (International Building Code) this code covers everything but 1 & 2 family dwellings example: commercial.  Specifically not adopted are Appendix Chapters A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H and J.  The following Appendix Chapter will be enforced: I – patio covers.


2009 IRC (International Residential Code) this code covers 1 & 2 family dwellings. Specifically not adopted are Chapters 33 - 42 (electrical) and Appendix Chapters A,B,C,D,E,F,I and L.  The following Appendix Chapters will be enforced: G - Swimming pools, spas and hot tubs; H - Patio covers; J - Existing buildings and structures; and K - Sound transmission.


2009 IPC (International Plumbing Code)


2009 IMC (International Mechanical Code)


2009 IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) this code covers all insulation, windows, etc. for Commercial buildings.


2011 NEC (National Electrical Code)


Copies of these codes are available for review at the Blair Public Library.  Code books can be purchased from the International Conference of Building Officials @ 1-800-423-6587.


State Law (Title 124) known as the “Private On-site Wastewater Treatment System Contractors Certification and System Registration Act” allows only professional engineers or persons certified by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ), or persons supervised by a certified professional, to do the following types of work with on-site wastewater treatment systems (septic systems and individual lagoons):

                        * Siting                         * Site evaluation            * Inspection

                        * Lay-out                     * Sizing                            * Percolation testing

                        * Construction            * Reconstruction            * Repair inspection

                        * Alteration                 * Modification                * Soil evaluation

                        * Pumping


For more information call NDEQ @ 402-471-2186 or (toll free) 877-253-2603 or log on to   mailto:www.deq.state.ne.us



            What is the purpose for building codes?

The purpose of codes is to provide minimum requirements to safeguard public safety, health and general welfare.  (2009 IRC, Section R101.3)



            Do I need a permit to paint my home?

No, permits are not required for cosmetic improvements such as painting or carpeting your home.  However, permits are required for siding, roofing, replacing windows, accessory buildings, interior remodels, and furnace/air conditioning replacement.  Contact the Planning Department if there is a question of whether a permit is or is not required.


            How long does it take to process a permit?

                        It usually takes three to five working days to process a permit.


            How much advance notice is required to schedule an inspection?

The County requires that a request for an inspection be made a minimum of 24 hours in advance of the desired inspection time.  Inspection requests are then scheduled on a first come first serve basis.


            If the County issues me a building permit, but the building inspector finds code violations when performing an inspection,

           does having a permit make those violations allowable?

The issuance of a permit shall not be construed to be approval of any violations of any provisions of County codes.  The issuance of a permit based on construction documents and other data shall not prevent the building inspector from requiring corrections of errors in the construction documents and other data.  (2009 IRC, Section R105.4)


            How soon must I begin work once I have received a permit?

If no work has begun within 180 days of the issuance of a permit, then the project shall be deemed abandoned, unless an extension has been granted by the Planning Department.  You have two years in which to complete the project.



            When are emergency egress windows required?

Basements with habitable space and every sleeping room shall have at least one open emergency escape and rescue opening.  (2003 IRC, Section R310.1)


            Is there a size requirement for egress windows?

Yes, the opening shall have a minimum net clear opening of 5.7 square feet.  Also, the window is required to have a minimum 20” width and minimum of 24” height, and also a maximum height of 44” from finish floor to the window sill plate (2009 IRC, Section R310.1 & R310.1.1)


            What are the requirements for window wells?

The minimum horizontal area of the window well shall be 9 square feet, with a minimum horizontal projection and width of 36”.  If the depth of the window well is greater than 44” the well shall be equipped with a ladder or steps usable with the window fully open.  (2009 IRC, Section R310.2 & 310.2.1)

            Are permits required for replacing windows?

Yes, but only if changing the style, type, or location of the windows.  Example – double hung to bay windows.


Permits are also required when replacing windows in bedrooms where the windows are required to meet the egress requirements (Section R310.1) and also glazing requirement for tempered glass. (2003 IRC, Section R308)

            In basements with multiple bedrooms, where are the egress windows required?

Where basements contain one or more sleeping rooms, egress windows are required in all sleeping rooms, but shall not be required in adjoining areas of the basement (2009 IRC, Section R308)



            Are manufactured homes allowed in Washington County?

Manufactured homes are considered single-family dwellings and are allowed in any zoning district where single-family dwellings are permitted.  However, some subdivisions are governed by covenants that may not permit manufactured homes.


            Does the County have any other requirements regarding manufactured homes?

Yes, the County requires that manufactured homes have at least 900 square feet of floor area, at least an 18 foot exterior width, a roof pitch with a minimum vertical rise of 2.5” for each 12” of horizontal run, a non-reflective roof material, an exterior material similar to surrounding residences, and wheels, axles, transporting lights, and towing apparatus removed.


            Can I add a garage to a manufactured home?

Additions and alterations are allowed on manufactured homes as long as they meet the County’s Zoning Regulations, including an architect or engineers certification for additions affecting the home’s original roof.



            What is the wind and snow load in this area?

                        The snow load is 25 pounds and the wind speed is 90 MPH.



            Is draft stopping required in residential construction?

When there is usable space both above and below the concealed space of a floor/ceiling assembly, draft stops shall be installed so that the area of the concealed space does not exceed 1,000 square feet.  Draft stopping shall divide the concealed space into approximately equal areas.  Where the assembly is enclosed by a floor membrane above and a ceiling membrane below, draft stopping shall be provided in the floor/ceiling assemblies under the following circumstances:           

·        Ceiling is suspended under the floor framing.

·        Floor framing is constructed of truss-type open-web or perforated members.




            Can the landing for the front entry of a dwelling be 4 inches or more below the doors threshold?

Yes.  Exception to R311.3.1, but no more than 7 3/4" below top of threshold provided the door does not swing over the landing or floor.

(2009 IRC, Section R311.4.3)

            Can the exiting into the garage be your required exit?

No, the required exit door shall provide for direct access from habitable portions of the building without requiring travel through a garage (2009 IRC, Section R311.1)



            What is a floating slab?

A floating slab is a concrete slab with a minimum of a 4” inch thickness and a perimeter footing 12” deep, 8” to 10” inches wide with two (2) number four (4) rebar in the footing.

            When can I do a floating slab?

If the building does not exceed 600 square feet and has an eave height of less than 10’ a floating slab is allowed. (2009 IBC, Section 1805.2.1 Exception)

            When are footings to be inspected?

All footings, including poles and piers, shall be inspected when the excavation is complete and all required forms and/or rebar is in place prior to placing of concrete.  (2009 IRC, Section R109.1.1)



            Do I have to remove old layers of roof material when I am applying a new roof?

Yes, as per (R907.3)  If the existing roof covering is water soaked or has severely deteriorated, if the existing roof is wood shake, slate, clay,

cement, or asbestos-cement tile, or if the existing roof has two or more applications of any type of roof covering the existing roof coverings

must be removed before installing new roof coverings.  (2009 IRC, Section R907.3)


ICE AND WATER BARRIER is required.  It shall extend from eave's edge to a point at least 24 inches inside the exterior wall line

of the building.  EXCEPTION:  Detached accessory structures that contain no conditioned floor area.  As per Section R905.2.7.1 of the 2009 IRC.



            Is a permit required for a swimming pool?

If the swimming pool is an in-ground or above ground pool a permit is required for the fence, deck and electrical.

            Are hot tubs, spa’s and fixed in place wading pools required to fence?

Yes, if the depth is 24” or greater, then a 48” fence or barrier is required with openings of 4” or less.  If hot tub has a safety cover that complies with ASTM F1346, fencing is not required.



            When are guardrails required on decks?

Porches, decks, balconies or raised floor surfaces located more than 30” above the floor or grade below shall have guards not less than 36”

in height.  Open sides of stairs with a total rise of more than 30” above the floor or grade below shall have guards not less than 34” in height

measured vertically from the nosing of the treads.  (2009 IRC Section R312.1)


Guards on open sides of stairways, raised floor areas, balconies and porches; plus the triangular openings formed by the riser, tread and

bottom rail of a guard; plus openings for guards on sides of stair treads all have sphere passage requirements – refer to Code. (2003 IRC, Section R312.3)



            Who is responsible for enforcing the requirements for ADA?

Although the Americans with Disabilities Act is federal legislation, Washington County is responsible for enforcing its requirements.



            If you are building a new home you will need the following:

                        Two (2) copies of the house plans which include square footage.  One copy will be returned to you with the inspectors notes.

                        Percolation test results

                        Legal description of the property

                        Site plan showing where the house will be placed on the ground with distances in feet to all property lines

                        Approach permit from the County Highway Department


                        Cash or check is required at the time of application.  Electronic payments are not accepted at this time.

            If your house is a modular or manufactured home, you need to know which one:

Modular – built to Uniform Building Code standards.  Look for the Nebraska Modular Housing Unit Seal in the living room window

Manufactured – built to Housing and Urban Development Code standards.  A red and silver Federal Manufactured Home label is affixed to the rear end exterior of each transportable section of the home.

                        You will need:

                        Copy of your sales agreement for price of home

                        Copy of estimate for basement, if applicable

                        Moving permit from County Highway Department

                        All of above under new home


ACCESSORY BUILDINGS – all accessory buildings require a building permit

            In a platted subdivision?  If so, is there a house on the property?  If yes, you will need:

Site plan showing where the building will be placed on the ground with distances in feet to all property lines and all other buildings

                        Legal description

                        Two (2) copies of building plans

                        Cash or check is required at the time of application.  Electronic payments are not accepted at this time.

If the property is in a subdivision and there is no house on the property, you will not be able to build the accessory building until the house footings have been inspected or after a Conditional Use Permit has been obtained.


If the property is not in a subdivision, you will need a site plan, legal description, building plans and payment at the time of application.


During the application process we will:

            Review the required inspections

            Discuss any additional permits needed (electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and septic)

            Explain how an address is assigned

            Explain the building deposit




(including amendments)





If you have any questions, please e-mail us