Chapter 15.10


15.10.010    General provisions.

15.10.020    Purpose and intent.

15.10.030    Application.

15.10.040    Existing buildings.

15.10.050    Definitions.

15.10.060    Permit applications.

15.10.070    Frequency of permits.

15.10.080    Plans.

15.10.090    Waiver of plans.

15.10.100    Plan modification.

15.10.110    Permit issuance.

15.10.120    Permit validity.

15.10.130    Permit review.

15.10.140    Inspections.

15.10.150    Inspection requests and notices.

15.10.160    Recorded agreement.

15.10.170    Temporary occupancy.

15.10.180    Fees for permits and inspection.

15.10.190    Records.

15.10.200    Liability.

15.10.210    Violation constituting a public nuisance.

15.10.220    Penal provisions.

15.10.010 General provisions.

On March 25, 2014, the Amador County board of supervisors duly made findings that there are special local conditions within specified areas of Amador County where modifications and changes of the standard regulations for limited density owner-built rural dwellings are reasonably necessary because of local climatic, geographical or topographical conditions.  The rural housing construction standards adopted by this chapter are modifications to the standard building regulations otherwise applicable in Amador County and are adopted pursuant to Section 17958.5 of the Health and Safety Code.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.020 Purpose and intent.

The modifications contained in this chapter are intended to permit, under specified circumstances, the use of the ingenuity and preferences of individual builders of dwellings intended for occupancy by the builder in designated areas of Amador County, while at the same time maintaining minimum requirements for the protections of life, limb, health, property, safety and welfare of the general public and the occupants of dwellings constructed pursuant to this chapter.  It is further intended to allow the use of substitute materials and procedures and alternatives to the specifications prescribed by the uniform technical codes to the extent that a reasonable degree of health and safety is provided by these modifications.  In applying these modifications, the community development agency director or designee shall have the authority to exercise reasonable judgment in determining compliance with all requirements of this chapter.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.030 Application.

The provisions of this chapter shall apply to the construction, enlargement, conversion, alteration, repair, use, maintenance, and occupancy of limited density owner-built, owner-occupied dwellings and appurtenant structures in rural areas in Amador County.  Such dwelling and appurtenant structures shall include seasonally or permanently occupied dwellings, hunting shelters, vacation homes, recreational shelters and detached bedrooms used solely by the owner of the dwelling.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.040 Existing buildings.

A building permit may be obtained pursuant to the provisions of this chapter for a dwelling that was constructed or was partially constructed before the effective date of these modifications, provided:

A.    The applicant is the owner of the dwelling at the time of application for and issuance of the permit; and

B.    The dwelling meets all standards required by this chapter; and

C.    An inspection of the dwelling is made by the community development agency director or designee, and he/she determines that the requirements of this chapter have been met or substantially met to the extent that no abnormal risk to health or safety will result from occupancy of the dwelling.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.050 Definitions.

For purposes of this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given below:

A.    "Detached bedroom" means a separate accessory structure without kitchen or sanitation facilities, designed for and used primarily as a sleeping facility in conjunction with a main structure which includes kitchen and sanitation facilities.

B.    "Owner-occupied rural dwelling" means any structure consisting of one or more habitable rooms intended or designed for single-family occupancy with all basic facilities for living and sleeping which is situated or is to be situated in a rural area to which the provisions of this chapter are applicable and which is owned by one or more members of the family occupying the structure.

C.    "Owner-built" means a structure owned and constructed by any person or family member who acts as the general contractor for, or as the provider of, all or the major part of the labor expended to build the structure and which is to be occupied as the principal residence of that person or family, and not intended for sale, lease, rent or employee occupancy.  "Owner-built" shall also mean constructed by a licensed contractor for occupancy by the person or persons owning the property at the time construction is commenced.

For the purposes of this chapter, the sale, lease, renting or employee occupancy of owner-built structures within three years of issuance of a certificate of occupancy shall be presumptive evidence that the structure was erected for the purpose of sale, lease or renting.

D.    "Rural" or "rural area" means lands of Amador County which are beyond boundaries of an incorporated city which are zoned for residential construction by right or with a conditional use permit.  A "rural parcel" is defined as: five acres or larger for lands west of the Mount Diablo meridian line range 13/14; and all lands located east of the Mount Diablo meridian line range 13/14 that are beyond the limits of a planned development.

E.    "Sound structural condition" means a structure in which:

1.    Any plumbing, any fireplace, wood stove or other source of heat, and any electrical wiring has been built in conformance with and conforms to the applicable codes and has been and is maintained in a good condition so as to present no unreasonable risk of health and safety; and

2.    The fireplace of chimney does not list or bulge and has not settled due to defective material or deterioration, and in which fireplaces and chimneys are of sufficient size to carry imposed loads with safety.

F.    "Substandard building" means a structure in which there exists any condition that abnormally endangers the life, limb, health, or safety of anyone within or outside of such structure.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.060 Permit applications.

Permits shall be required for the construction or repair of owner-built, owner-occupied rural dwellings and appurtenant structures.  Applications for a permit pursuant to this chapter shall be made to the building department.  Permit applications shall contain the following information:

A.    Name and mailing address of the applicant;

B.    The location, assessor’s parcel number, and address (if known) of the site where the proposed structure is to be built;

C.    A general description of the structure and the intended use (where applicable), mechanical installations with all clearance and venting procedures detailed, electrical installations, and fire safety details;

D.    A plot plan indicating the location of the dwelling in relation to property lines, other structures, sanitation and bathing facilities, water source and water ways;

E.    If the application being made pertains to a dwelling structure, application shall be made concurrently for approval by the county environmental health department for the installation of sewage or waste disposal facilities;

F.    In the case of dwellings, an agreement shall be recorded by the applicant that the dwelling is to be owner-built, owner-occupied and used only for residential purposes;

G.    The plan provided for in Section 15.10.080;

H.    Such other necessary data or information as may be required by the community development agency director or designee to implement these regulations.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.070 Frequency of permits.

No more than two building permits of initial construction of an owner-built, owner-occupied dwelling in a rural area shall be issued to the same person in any five-year period.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.080 Plans.

Each applicant for a building permit pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall, at the time of making such application, submit a plan for the proposed structure.  Such plans shall contain a general description of the structure and all necessary specific information to reasonably facilitate a determination by the community development agency director or designee of conformance with all applicable codes, including the provisions of this chapter.  The plans may include a simplified diagram of the single-item floor plan and site evaluation in order to determine the appropriate dimensions of structural members.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.090 Waiver of plans.

The community development agency director or designee may waive the submission of plans required under the provisions of Section 15.10.080 which he/she determines are not necessary to obtain compliance with this chapter, based upon the nature of the work for which application is made.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.100 Plan modification.

Modifications to the design materials and methods of construction may be allowed; provided, that the building continues to conform to the provisions of this chapter and the community development agency director or designee has approved the modification in writing.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.110 Permit issuance.

When the community development agency director or designee determines that the planned work will comply with all applicable codes, including provisions of this chapter, the permit shall be deemed complete.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.120 Permit validity.

Permits issued for initial construction of dwellings shall be valid, without renewal, for a period of five successive years.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.130 Permit review.

A.    Basis of Approval.  Pursuant to Section 218 of Title 26 of the California Administrative Code, except as otherwise provided by this chapter, dwellings and appurtenant structures constructed in compliance with this chapter need not conform with the construction requirements prescribed by the latest applicable editions of the Uniform Building, Plumbing, and Mechanical Codes, the National Electrical Code, or other applicable technical codes.  Projects will be evaluated against the 1985 code cycle.

B.    Mechanical Requirements.  Fireplaces, heating and cooking appliances, and gas piping installed in buildings constructed pursuant to this chapter shall be installed and vented in accordance with the requirements of the Uniform Building Code, the Uniform Mechanical Code and the Uniform Plumbing Code.  Alternate materials and methods of venting shall be permitted if substantially equivalent in safety and durability.

C.    Heating Capacity.  A heating facility or appliance shall be installed in each dwelling subject to the provisions of this chapter; however, there shall be no specified requirement for heating capacity or temperature maintenance.  The use of solid fuel or solar heating devices shall be deemed to comply with the requirements of this section.  If nonrenewable fuel is used in the dwelling, rooms so heated shall meet current insulation standards.

D.    Electrical Requirements.  No dwelling or appurtenant structures constructed pursuant to this chapter shall be required to be connected to a source of electrical power, or wired, or otherwise fitted for electrification, except as set forth in this subsection.

If electrical wiring or appliances are installed, the installation shall be in accordance with the provisions of the current version of the National Electrical Code for single-family dwellings.

In structures where electrical usage is to be confined to one or more rooms of a structure, the remainder of the structure shall not be required to be wired or otherwise fitted for electrification unless the community development agency director or designee determines that electrical demands are reasonably expected to exceed the wiring capacity of the area that is to be wired.  In such instances, the community development agency director or designee may require such further electrification of the structure as may be necessary to meet the excess anticipated demand.

The provisions of this subsection apply to buildings which include a workshop, kitchen, or other single room which may require electrification and there is no expectation of further electrical demand.

E.    Room Dimension Requirements.  The only room dimension or other room requirements for a structure constructed pursuant to this chapter shall be as follows:

Bedrooms shall be equipped with either a door to the outside or an exterior window with 5.7 square feet of openable area for emergency exit.  The window shall have a minimum width of twenty inches, a minimum height of twenty-four inches, and the window sill shall not be more than forty-four inches above the bedroom floor.

F.    Sanitation Facilities.  A bathtub or shower and a lavatory, or alternate bathing and washing facility, shall be provided at the dwelling site.

G.    Plumbing Specifications.  Where conventional plumbing, in all or in part, is installed within a dwelling, it shall be installed in accordance with the Uniform Plumbing Code.  Alternative materials and methods shall be permitted if the design complies with the intent of such code, and such alternatives shall perform to protect health and safety for the intended purpose.

H.    Domestic Water Supply.  There shall be a water supply provided by a source approved by the County Environmental Health Department.

I.    Fire Safety. Provide for a defensible space by complying with the standards for emergency access, signage, emergency water, and fuel modification found in Chapter 15.30 of this code, Fire and Life Safety Regulations.

J.    Exterior Wildfire Exposure.  Exterior wall coverings, exterior wall vents, exterior door assemblies, and roofing systems shall meet the requirements of Chapter 7A of the 2009 California Building Code supplement.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.140 Inspections.

All construction or work for which a permit is required under this chapter shall be subject to inspection by county inspectors.  Structures of conventional or simple construction shall be inspected at a single final inspection.

Additional inspections shall be conducted under the following circumstances:

An inspection shall be conducted where there is reason to believe that the footing of the structure will be subjected to abnormal vertical or lateral movement due to unstable soil conditions; or in cases where interior wall coverings or construction elements will conceal underlying construction, electrical or mechanical systems; or where an unconventional construction method is to be employed which would preclude examination at a single inspection.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.150 Inspection requests and notices.

It shall be the duty of the holder of a building permit issued under this chapter to notify the building department that the construction is ready for inspection and to assure that the premises will be accessible at the time scheduled for inspection.  Inspections shall be requested by the applicant at least forty-eight hours in advance of the intended inspection.  The inspector shall notify or inform the permit holder of the day during which the inspection is be conducted and shall notify the permit holder if the inspection cannot be made as scheduled.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.160 Recorded agreement.

An agreement shall be recorded against the property on which the limited density "owner-built" rural dwelling is constructed stating that the building was constructed according to the 1985 California Building Code cycle.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.170 Temporary occupancy.

An owner builder and his/her immediate family may use and occupy a portion or portions of a dwelling or appurtenant structure prior to the completion of the entire structure if approved sanitary facilities are available and functioning at the site and if the work completed does not endanger life, health or safety.  Neither the county nor any official or employee thereof shall be responsible for any injuries to anyone, occupants or otherwise, which are attributable to the unfinished structure.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.180 Fees for permits and inspection.

A.    Any person required to obtain a building, plumbing, electrical, heating or comfort cooling permit under this chapter, or a combination of any such permits, shall at the time of filing an application therefor pay to the building department the fees set forth in the current resolution of the board of supervisors establishing fees for permits issued.

B.    Where work is commenced after the effective date of these regulations and prior to obtaining a permit, a double fee may be charged.

C.    The community development agency director or designee may refund up to eighty percent of the permit fee subject to the following limitations:

1.    Fees allocable to plan checking are not refundable after that building department has commenced review of the plans;

2.    No work shall have commenced on the project for which such permit was issued;

3.    The permit must be canceled by the owner or holder, in writing, within sixty days of the date of issuance; and

4.    No refund shall be made when the permit fee is ten dollars or less.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.190 Records.

It shall be the duty of the building department to keep a permanent record of all pertinent transactions under this chapter and to render a monthly report to the board of supervisors concerning such transactions.  The building department shall transmit to the county assessor copies of all applications for building permits and copies of all completion reports pertaining to building permits.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.200 Liability.

This chapter shall not be construed as imposing upon the county or upon any of its officers or employees any liability or responsibility for injury or damage resulting from any building, plumbing, electrical, heating, or comfort cooling work approved or performed hereunder.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.210 Violation constituting a public nuisance.

Any building or structure erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished, equipped, used, occupied or maintained contrary to the provisions of this chapter shall be and the same is hereby declared to be unlawful and a public nuisance.  Any failure, refusal or neglect to obtain a permit as required by this chapter shall be prima facie evidence that a public nuisance has been created in connection with the erection, construction, enlargement, alteration, repair, movement, improvement, removal, conversion or demolition, equipping, use, occupation or maintenance of a building or structure moved, improved, converted or demolished, equipped, used, occupied or maintained contrary to the provisions of this chapter.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).

15.10.220 Penal provisions.

A.    No person, firm or corporation, whether as owner, lessee, sublessee or occupant, shall erect, construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, improve, remove, convert, demolish, equip, use, occupy or maintain any building or premises, or cause or permit the same to be done, contrary to or in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter or any order issued by the community development agency director or designee or the environmental health director hereunder.

B.    Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punishable by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment in the county jail of the county of Amador for not more than six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.  Each such person shall be deemed guilty of a separate offense for each day or portion thereof during which any violation of the provisions is committed, continued or permitted by such person.

C.    The provisions of subsection B of this section shall not apply to an owner of real property building or improving structures thereon or appurtenances thereto who does such work himself; provided, that:

1.    Such structure or structures are not intended or offered for sale, lease or rent; and

2.    Such structure or structures are one-family dwellings, farm or ranch buildings, which are not more than two stories in height.

D.    In all action, criminal or civil, brought under this chapter, proof of the sale, leasing or renting, or the offering for sale, lease or rent, of any such structure by the owner-builder within three years after completion of construction is presumptive evidence that such structure was undertaken for purposes of sale, lease or rent.  Sale, lease or rent of a limited density rural dwelling may be allowed by the community development agency director or designee upon demonstration of hardship.  (Ord. 1735 §2(part), 2014).