Building FAQs

Q. What are permits and why do I need one?
A. Building permits are the way Baker City/Baker County regulates construction. Baker City/Baker County operates under the current adopted Oregon codes. These codes can be found on-line at The safety of the occupants in the building is the primary reason for having construction codes.

Q. Which building codes are administered for this jurisdiction?
A. We inspect from the currently adopted Oregon Specialty COdes for the State of Oregon. A link to those can be found here: Building Codes Division: Adopted Codes Online : Codes and standards : State of Oregon.

Q. How large can I build an accessory structure (tool shed, play house, storage sheds, etc.) without needing a permit?
A. 200 square feet and a height of 10 feet measured from the finished floor level, to the average height of the roof surface. However Planning/Zoning may still need to approve the structure placement.

Q. Do I need a permit to build a deck?
A. If the deck is greater than 30" from grade or if it will have a cover, a permit is required. 
Q. Do I need a permit to replace windows in my home?
A. Only if the new window is larger than the existing window, creating structural changes.

Q. What are the design criteria for buildings in Baker City?
A. 25# snow load, 103 MPH wind speed (3 second gust), 24" frost depth, seismic zone (c), Baker County snow zone varies – call for information. Exposure B or C – call for information.

Q. I think I am ready for a framing inspection, how can I know when it is time to schedule an inspection?
A. Call the Building Department inspection line 541-524-2054. Same day inspections must be requested by 7:30 a.m.. See inspection schedule for the "County" on main Building Department page.
Q. Can you recommend a contractor for my building project?
A. No. The building department cannot make such recommendations. Ask the builder for references and ask to see samples of previous work. You can also check with the Oregon Construction Contractors Board.

Q. How much space is allowed between the individual railings in a guard rail?
A. Intermediate railings and ornamental railing must not allow a sphere 4" in diameter to pass through. Note: 5" space allowed along stairway guardrails.

Q. What is the minimum size for a bedroom escape (egress) window?
A. 5.7 square feet (except that grade floor windows may be 5 square feet). Also the minimum width is 20" and the minimum height is 24". Maximum sill height above floor is 44".

Q. What are the requirements for the treads and risers on stairs in a single family residence?
A. Minimum tread depth of 10" and a maximum riser height of 8". All risers to be equal in height within any flight of stairs. Treads to be equal in depth within any flight of stairs. A 3/8" tolerance is allowed between the greatest and the smallest riser or tread.

Design Criteria


Snow Loads within City Limits:

• 25 psf snow – Baker City
• 70 psf snow – Sumpter
• 60 psf snow – Halfway
• 25 psf snow – Richland
• 200 psf snow – Cornucopia
• Other areas – please call the Building Department, or check the longitude and latitude at the SEAO website,  

Other Criteria:

• Wind load – 103 MPH (3 second gust)
• Frost Depth – 24"
• Exposure – SITE SPECIFIC (Refer to the 2014 Oregon Residential Specialty Code
• R301.2.1.4 Exposure Category)
• Seismic – C
• Climate - 2