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Application Tips

Tips to Help You Succeed

Developing land requires an understanding of hundreds of land-use and building requirements.  The steps on this page can help you avoid getting too deep into your project, only to find out that a step has been overlooked or a form unfinished.

Work in Stages

In Step 3 of our Guide for Home Builders, we advised you to work in stages by stopping by the Permit Assistance Center and asking for information as often as you feel is necessary. Experienced professional developers assume nothing and work in stages. We recommend that you do the same.

Consider Arranging for a Critical Area Administrative Review

State law requires Thurston County to regulate development in various types of "critical areas." Examples include wetlands, rivers, floodplains, high-groundwater areas, steep slopes and marine shorelines. Often, this requires that a buffer be set aside to protect the critical area from development.

Thurston County offers a "Critical Areas Administrative Review" service whereby a staff member will visit a property to help identify critical areas and the possible buildable area before a property owner submits a permit application. This service, subject to fees, can help a property owner develop a better site plan without revisions and can ultimately save time and money. A more rigorous environmental review of the site plan itself is conducted after the property owner submits an application.

Please be aware: Thurston County's Critical Areas Ordinance sometimes requires landowners to also supply professionally-prepared reports to determine the extent and functions of critical areas, which are then used to identify buffers. These reports will still be required regardless of whether you arrange for a Critical Area Administrative Review.  Also, having a Critical Area Administrative Review does not mean that your project is approved.

Schedule Your Required Scoping Report for a Drainage Plan

When land is developed in Thurston County, the developer must meet certain requirements for managing rainwater that flows off the property. The requirements are set forth in a document called the "Drainage Design and Erosion Control Manual for Thurston County."  In virtually all cases, the manual requires builders to submit a drainage plan along with their permitting applications.  

Before you begin designing stormwater ponds, catch basins and other stormwater facilities, learn about our Scoping Report submittal process. (In some cases this is mandatory; but many applicants choose to go through process voluntarily to avoid surprises later). Basically, this involves giving Thurston County a conceptual design of drainage plan before you move forward and invest time and money in submitting a formal plan.

  • Click here for a description of Drainage Plan Scoping Reports (external link). Click here for a link to fees.

Other Tips

Check to Make Sure Your Application is Complete

The Building Development Center will only accept complete application packages.  Please double check the submittal requirements and checklist on each application.

Visit Us When the Appropriate People are On Staff

The Building Development Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday through Friday; however, certain plan reviewers are available Tuesday through Thursday only. Click here for details.


Contact Us

Please click here for contact information.


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