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A Guide for Home Builders

Step 2: Site Information

In the previous step, we discussed whether your property will likely need a building permit.  Before developing your building plan, take the time to find out whether your property is appropriately zoned and whether there are other important site considerations -- such as whether your site features wetlands or is near a high groundwater flooding area.

red arrowThis step is complicated, but you don't need to do it alone!  The Building Development Center is here to help.  Stop by our office from 8 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday to talk to a staff member and review maps.

Does Your Property Have an Address?

If your building site does not have an address, contact the Thurston County Building Development Center with your tax parcel number.  The Building Development Center will assign an addressed based on the parcel. 

Determine Your Property's Zoning

Before you begin the hard work of planning, make sure your project is actually allowed in the area in which you are building. All property in Thurston County is assigned to a particular zone. Each zone has regulations that determine how parcels of land may be used or developed. Find out more about your property's zone, other criteria, and the development regulations that apply to it.

Check for Easements  

An easement allows another person the right to use your land for a specific purpose. Common easements are those granted to public utility or telephone companies to run lines on or under private property and to neighboring houses to use a common driveway to give access to their home. An easement is attached to the property involved, and not the owner of the property. You cannot build anything on an easement that would infringe on the easement holder's limited use of the portion of the property.

To obtain easement information, refer to your property deed or call the Thurston County Auditor's Office at (360) 786-5405 (press 0).

Check for Critical Areas

State law requires local governments to protect five types of critical areas: important fish and wildlife habitat areas, wetlands, critical aquifer recharge areas, frequently flooded areas; and geologically hazardous areas, (such as bluffs). Thurston County’s critical areas regulations are a response to that law – they regulate how development and redevelopment can safely occur on lands that contain critical areas. In many cases, buffers around critical areas are required. Click here for more information

Check for Shorelines

Thurston County’s Shoreline Master Program governs uses and activities on all marine (salt water) shorelines and many lake and river shorelines in the county. In most cases, buffers are required. Click here for more information

Check for Special Flood Hazard Areas

Thurston County enforces building codes for properties that are within Special Flood Hazard Areas, such as requiring that new structures be built 2 feet above base flood elevations.  The standards are set largely by FEMA. Click here for more information.

Check for Past Permitting Activity

This check is described in Step 1 of this guide.

Get Building and Sewage System Plans

Find a set of building plans for your home or begin working with a design professional (see Step 3: Design Project). If your site will require on-site sewage disposal you need to contact a certified on-site sewage (septic) system designer.  If your site already has a septic system you can request an "as built" septic drawing from the Permit Assistance Center.

If your site will require on-site sewage disposal, you will need to contact a certified on-site sewage (septic) system designer. Thurston County Environmental Health keeps a list of certified designers in the area. State-licensed engineers with expertise in civil or sanitary engineering and state-registered sanitarians also are qualified to design on-site sewage (septic) systems.

See all the Land Use Ordinances

To read Thurston County's land use ordinances, click here.

Contact Us

Please click here for contact information.


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