Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Q: We’ve been looking at land to buy and hope to build our own home.

My husband and son are totally capable of building it themselves but we’ve been told the County won’t let you build your own house and that you have to use an architect. We already have house plans and don’t need an architect. What’s the story?

A: I’m sorry that you’ve been told such erroneous information. You can build your own home here. The County just requires you to file an affidavit and show proof that you know what you’re doing. You don’t have to use an architect. However, it is always wise to share your plans with a qualified contractor and/or designer to be sure that what you want to build complies with King County and Washington state requirements.

The County has an extensive website that will tell you each permit you will need, what the requirements are, and how to get a complete package together for the County building folks. It is straightforward but involved, so be prepared. You will need a detailed drawing of the property and everything that will be on it. You might find it easy to develop that off the septic design drawings.

There will also have to be engineering drawings but those often come with plans. Be sure to have a local engineer take a look to be sure the specification fit King County requirements. The place to start is the septic design. It’s always a real bonus if you find a property that has already had a septic design done. If it hasn’t, you should do one before closing on the purchase. That will tell you so much about how the property can be developed.

Water is also an issue, of course, so be sure a well can be drilled on the parcel or that there is a water share available. Again, the best option is finding a parcel that already has a water source. The land must be of a certain size to allow for a well and septic so be sure you understand the requirements.