Is a permit required to…
Q - Put in a swimming pool?
If the swimming pool is capable of holding more than 24 inches (2 feet) of water, a pool permit is required. This applies to above ground seasonal pools (taken down and stored during fall/winter), above ground permanent pools and in-ground pools. There are also code requirements related to the electrical connections serving a pool and the enclosure (fencing) of a pool. For more information, click on the link for the type of pool:
Above Ground Seasonal Swimming Pool - Brochure and Permit Application
Above Ground Permanent Swimming Pool - Brochure and Permit Application
In-Ground Swimming Pool- Permit Application (Contact our office for further code information on in-ground pools)
Install/construct a deck?
If your deck is 30 inches or more above grade and/or will be covered, a building permit is required. Deck Requirements
Q - Put up a fence?
If the overall height of the fence, including all components of the fence such as decorative trim, will not exceed 6 (six) feet at any point a permit is not required. However, the zoning regulations do apply whether or not a permit is required. Fence, Walls, & Hedges
Q - Cover an existing porch, deck or patio?
A permit is required to cover an existing porch or deck. Please contact Building Services to discuss the details of your project and to obtain assistance on filing the permit application and construction documents. Deck Requirements
Q - Turn my unfinished basement into living space?
A permit is required to finish a basement. Finishing Your Basement
Q - Replace the roof on my house?
A permit is not required to re-shingle, but the code requirements must still be met. Permits are required to replace structural components of the roof such as framing.
click here for the 2006 IRC code requirements
Q - Replace siding, windows or gutters?
No permits are required for any of these improvements unless structural modifications are required to enlarge window openings. However, when downsizing bedroom windows, at least one window must be maintained at a minimum size that would meet egress window requirements. Exits and Emergency Escape Windows
Q - Replace my water heater, furnace or air conditioner?
Yes, a plumbing permit is required for replacement of a water heater and a mechanical permit is required for replacement of a furnace or air conditioner. Depending on the type of appliance being replaced and whether or not the installer is a City of Salina licensed contractor an inspection may not be required. Please check with Building Services to determine inspection requirements for your appliance. A permit is required regardless of whether or not an inspection is required.
Q - Replace an outlet or change a light fixture?
Permits are not required to replace existing equipment. However, if you need to add an outlet or a light either on an existing circuit or on its own circuit a permit is required.
Q - Put in a garden shed?
A permit is required to build or install any detached storage structure larger than 120 square feet. Even if a permit is not required, the structure must still meet all building and zoning codes, including being tied down to prevent wind displacement (Placement and anchorage on a concrete slab or through the use of helical mobile home anchors), required setbacks from property lines, and may not be placed in an easement. (Approved Locations of Residential Sheds). Also, the city’s zoning ordinance prohibits the placement of more than one storage building on each lot. Residential Accessory Buildings
Q - Operate a business from my home?
A Home Occupation permit is required to have a business in your home. There are some limitations to the types of businesses you can have in your home. For more information contact the Planning Division at 785-309-5720. For more information, please reference the application - click for "Home Occupation Certificate" application form.
Other Often Asked Questions...
Q - How many detached buildings can I have on my lot?
Only two detached accessory buildings may be constructed on each residential lot. The area of all structures on the lot may not exceed 35% of the lot area (30% in the “R” zoning district). Only one of the allowed buildings can be used as a garage and only one of the buildings can be used as a storage building. One building can not be larger than 770 square feet and the smaller one can not be larger than 360 square feet, as long as the lot coverage limits are not exceeded. Residential Accessory Buildings
Q - Can I place my fence in a drainage easement?
No, fences cannot be placed in dedicated drainage easements. Please contact the Engineering Division of Public Works at 785-309-5725 for specific code information.
Q - Can a homeowner do work on his or her own home?
If a person is the owner occupant of a single family dwelling, he or she may do any work on that dwelling that would otherwise require a licensed or registered contractor. The owner-occupant is still required to obtain permits, inspections, and comply with the applicable codes. Requirements for Residential Property Owners
Q - How long does it take to get a building permit?
Residential Permits generally take 3-5 working days. This time frame applies once a complete application with all of the required documents is received. Work cannot commence until the building permit has been issued.
Q - What inspections are required on a permit and how do I contact an inspector?
At the time a building permit is issued, you will also receive instructions regarding the required inspections. The required inspections are also indicated on the back of the inspection record card given to you at the time of permit issuance. Not all permits require the same types of interim inspections, but all permits do require at least a final inspection. To request an inspection for your permit, call 785-309-5715 and your request will be processed and scheduled by the permit technicians.
Q - How do I know I am getting a good contractor to perform work on my home?
Unless you are planning to do the work yourself, the most important step in planning your home renovation project is finding the right contractor for you. Hiring A Contractor
Q - What is the maximum size house I can build on my lot?
The zoning classification of a particular legal building lot dictates the maximum allowed coverage of structures on that lot, as well as minimum setback requirements. Maximum coverage on residentially zoned lots varies from 30% to 40%. “Lot Coverage” means all covered structures including but not limited to detached garages, decks, porches and gazebos. It does not include driveways or uncovered decks.
Q - What is the minimum size for an egress window?
Emergency escape and rescue windows are required in any bedroom, including all basement bedrooms. Egress windows on the grade floor shall have an openable area of 24” X 30”. Egress windows on other levels shall have an openable area of 24” X 36”. All egress windows shall be no more than 44” from the finished floor to the openable portion of the window. Exits and Emergency Escape Windows
Q - Can an egress window well encroach into a setback or an easement?
An egress window well may encroach into a yard setback, but because easements contain sewer, gas or electrical lines, or are preserved for drainage ways, egress window wells may not encroach into an easement. Please check with the Building Services staff to determine whether or not your property contains easements.
Q - What is the difference between a setback and an easement?
The setback is the minimum distance prescribed in the zoning and building codes that a building shall be located from the property line. Setbacks are required in order to limit fire spread, insure proper room for drainage and to maintain a neighborhood appearance.
An easement is a legal term which indicates that the property owner has given to someone else (usually the City or Public Utility Company) the right to use a portion of their property for a specific purpose, such as utility lines or drainage. Because the easement has a specific use and also has something physically present in it (for example: a sewer line), the City of Salina does not permit any structures, including roof overhangs, to be located in easements. Staff members can tell you if there are platted easements on a particular property.
Q - Am I required to use trusses to construct the structural frame for my roof?
No, the International Residential Code not only allows the construction of “stick built” roofs but also provides several tables that can be used to determine what size and spacing of lumber to use. Please see a Building Services staff member for help in designing your roof framing system.
Q - Can I build a detached garage or shed with pole construction and metal siding?
Yes, the City of Salina does allow pole construction. However as a general rule the pole building must be designed by an engineer. Typically, pole buildings have larger spans and different loading than what is seen in conventionally framed buildings. Therefore, the code does not have specific prescriptive code requirements for pole construction such as there is for conventionally framed buildings. Several lumber yards in this area sell pole buildings that have been designed by an engineer licensed in the State of Kansas. Also, as a general rule, the city’s zoning ordinance will require that the accessory building be similar in appearance to the house on the lot.
Q - Can “pre-fab” houses be erected in the City?
Yes, they can as long as certain requirements are met. First of all, you must check your property deed or the subdivision covenants to make sure that the original developer did not prohibit non site built homes. A copy of the covenants can be obtained from the Register of Deeds Office at 300 W. Ash. Secondly, the proposed home must meet the requirements of a “residential design manufactured home” as established by the Salina City Commission. The home must have residential-type siding and roofing, with a pitched roof and a roof overhang. It must be placed on a permanent foundation and the axle removed. It will need to conform to all the zoning requirements for setbacks. In addition it may not be a single wide – that is the length must not be more than 2.5 times the width. A Building Services staff member can give you more information on permit requirements. Residential Design Manufactured Homes
Q: Why do I need an inspection when I’ve hired a licensed contractor.
A: Licensed contractors generally have a good working knowledge of the various codes that they work under. However, codes constantly change as technology changes. We have learned that a lot of the things that we did 30 years ago were not as safe as we had originally believed. And we regulate more things as we learn how they impact safety in the built-environment. It is a lot for a contractor to keep up with. Part of our responsibility and we take it very seriously, is working with the contractors to keep them abreast of code requirements. An inspector has the discretion to simply advise a contractor about a code violation and not require a correction if the violation is marginal. But you have to remember that the consumer will live with that violation for a long time, so the inspector has to be very careful about what he approves and disapproves while trying not to be too strict. Also, in the competitive world we in which we live, contractors are always looking for a more economical way to do something, to find a shortcut. There is nothing wrong with that as long as the end product still meets code. Occasionally it doesn’t but it may only miss by a little. Pretty soon, if an inspector routinely approves it, the code violation makes it into the category of an “accepted practice”. This ultimately leads to the fulfillment of the old proverb “Give them and inch and they’ll take a mile”. Each time it misses by a little more. Without an inspection department maintaining a minimum level of consistency to keep the playing field level, consumer safety can be marginalized. The code is the minimum standard that provides the consistency. It is a rare occurrence that a reputable contractor makes a serious mistake, although it does occasionally happen. Our usual role is more as quality assurance inspectors. However, we do also watch for those contractors that may not be as competent or ethical as they should be. By the way, contrary to some beliefs, codes are more than just guidelines, they are the law when they are adopted by your community.
Q: I understand why we have codes for public buildings, but why do the codes have to apply to my own house?
A: The national average for the length of time someone owns any one home is less than 5 years. It is inevitable that someone else will someday own your house. In addition, many people modify their homes while they own them to not only meet the needs of their personal tastes and life style, but to improve the value. Home improvement is a big business in this country. People buying homes in a community that adopts and enforces building codes have an expectation that the product that they are buying meets some minimum standards. While there is always a certain element of “buyer beware” in any purchase, where permits and inspections are required, there is a basic assurance that what is concealed in the walls is safe. Our experience has been that folks generally want a contractor to meet all code requirements as long as they know what the cost of that will be up front. However, human nature being what it is, some people are willing to compromise on certain code requirements if they don’t recognize an immediate cost-benefit to themselves, and would be willing to indemnify themselves against the possible risk. That same person though, if he were the buyer, would expect that everything about the house met code unless any deficiencies were disclosed to him and if he were willing to accept those deficiencies, that the purchase price would reflect a discount because of them. A community deals with this reality by adopting codes as laws that prevent anyone from indemnifying him or herself from a code violation. In other words, you might be willing to live with the consequences of an improperly installed water heater, but the law does not allow you to assume that risk. As an example, you can not sign a waiver with the police department that allows you to exceed the speed limit as long as you accept the liability for whatever damages that might result from an accident that was caused by your speeding.
Q: If I get a building permit, will my taxes go up?
A: Maybe, maybe not. If you put on an addition, your appraised value will go up. If you finish your basement your appraised value will probably go up. If you refinish a kitchen or bathroom, it may not go up. In fact, the chances are greater that your appraisal will go up if you repaint or replace siding on the outside of your house than doing a little interior remodeling. However, concern about the few dollars that your taxes may go up to reflect the enhanced value of your home should not be a reason to avoid obtaining a permit and the associated safety inspections.
Q: Why are there so many codes?
A: Most codes result as a reaction to a tragic event. After some catastrophic fire which results in the loss of life and property, or a hurricane, earthquake or the outbreak of a health crisis such as SARS or Legionaries disease, insurance companies, health officials and communities begin to look at the circumstances that made the event worse or things that could have been done to prevent loss. Once the basic codes are in place, organizations begin to look at other issues to try and prevent other kinds of tragedies. Soon you have handrail requirements for stairs and allowable rise and run rules to keep stairs from being too steep for example. As more people examine the causes of more accidents and failures, the list continues to grow as we learn from our mistakes.