Building a Home in Boundary County

There are relatively few administrative requirements for building a home in Boundary County and Boundary County does not require building inspections beyond what the state requires to build a home or set up a modular or mobile home.

There are no building inspections other than those required by the state; for the minimum recommended construction standards it is recommended that an engineer or construction contractor be contacted. Building your home in Boundary County involves some considerations regarding optimum placement on your property: in addition to locating septic drain fields and the need for a perc test (Panhandle Health), you will want your garage and driveway situated to take advantage of the contours of your land in conjunction with conforming to county driveway standards (Road & Bridge) such that not only is your home situated where you want but your parcel is in compliance with current health and highway guidelines.

Before beginning construction or installation of a residential structure, however, it is necessary to obtain a residential placement permit (see Zoning & Subdivision Ordinance, Section 6.4), which requires completion of an application and a $35 fee. Upon receipt of an application for a residential placement permit the zoning administrator will ensure that the parcel meets the minimum lot size for the zone district in which construction is taking place or that the parcel is a legal non-conforming lot of record, that set-back requirements are met, that the property where the home is being placed does not lie within wetland or flood zones identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and that the application meets airport overlay provisions.

Upon receipt of an application for a residential placement permit, a copy will be provided the County GIS Mapping Department for assignment of a physical address and to Road & Bridge to ensure the driveway conforms to standards. The zoning administrator may take up to ten business days to approve or deny an application or provide an explanation as to why this deadline can't be met. If a new address is part of the request it will be provided with the approval permit.

If you are building within the incorporated city limits of Bonners Ferry or Moyie Springs, separate city regulations apply; in Bonners Ferry, call City Hall at (208) 267-3105, in Moyie Springs, call the City Office at (208) 267-2598.

Before purchasing a parcel in the county on which you intend to build a home, it is a good idea to contact the Planning and Zoning office at (208) 267-7212 with the parcel number of the property you are interested in to find out what the zoning of that parcel is and whether a zoning certificate to allow construction can be approved. If the parcel does not meet the standards established in the Boundary County Zoning and Subdivision Ordinance, no permit will be issued and residential construction on that parcel will be in violation of the ordinance, subjecting the owner to the possibility of prosecution and removal of the structure (See Zoning & Subdivision Ordinance, Section 4.6.3).

If the property is located in a flood zone identified by FEMA, a National Flood Insurance Program Certificate of Elevation is required, which must be completed by an engineer or surveyor licensed in Idaho to determine base flood elevation and to ensure that the first floor elevation of the structure is above base flood level. Failure to obtain a valid Certificate of Elevation when building in a flood zone is not only a violation of the zoning and subdivision ordinance, but can result in Boundary County being excluded from participation in the National Flood Insurance Program, meaning that flood insurance, most often required for financing a home or land within a FEMA-identified flood zone, will not be available to anyone in the county.

ADMINISTRATIVE DEVELOPMENT PERMITS

The following is extracted from the Boundary County, Idaho, Land Use Ordinance 2017-1a, Section 6, from which more detail can be reviewed.

Recording: Development permit applications will be maintained as a permanent record pursuant to Idaho Code, and will be made available for public view on request by any interested party.

Concurrent Processing of Applications: Whenever application is made for a proposed use requiring the issuance multiple permits, the applications will, to the extent possible, be processed concurrently, with single public notice process covering all application procedures. When applications are processed concurrently, only the fee established for the highest cost permit under consideration will be imposed.

Certificate of Compliance: When a property owner requires documentation that a particular use, unregulated by Boundary County, is in compliance with the provisions of this ordinance, that property owner may make application for a certificate of compliance, describing the use being conducted. Upon ascertaining that the use described meets the provisions established herein, the administrator shall issue, at no fee to the property owner, a certificate of compliance. Certificates of Compliance shall remain valid for two years following cessation of the use described. Expansion of an unregulated use may require additional permitting.

Residential Placement Permit: Where established within a zone district as a use requiring administrative permit, a residential placement permit is required prior to the onset of construction of a primary residence or an Accessory Dwelling Unit intended for residential occupation.

Duration of Permit: Following issuance, a residential placement permit will belong to the applicant and will only be transferable to the extent that development as depicted on the application has been completed on the date of sale or transfer of the parcel or lot.

Commercial/Industrial Placement Permit: Where established as a use requiring administrative permit, a commercial/industrial placement permit is required prior to the onset of construction or expansion of a primary structure to establish a commercial, light industrial or industrial use as defined in Section 2; or for converting a residential or accessory structure into a primary structure for commercial or industrial use.

Duration of Permit: Following issuance, a commercial/industrial placement permit will go with the land and remain valid for the life of the use and be transferable on sale of property, to the limits established in the approved application. Expansion beyond the limits established in the approved application will require the issuance of a new commercial/industrial placement permit or conditional use permit, as applicable. When a use for which a commercial/industrial placement permit was issued is discontinued for a period of two years, the permit will be considered lapsed.

Penalties for Violation: Failure to obtain a Residential Placement Permit or a Commercial/Industrial Placement Permit when required will constitute an infraction, pursuant to Section 4.1.

There is NO requirement for nor does Boundary County, Idaho, offer a Certificate for the following:

  1. Occupancy
  2. Continuing Occupancy
  3. Smoke Detector
  4. Carbon Monoxide Detector
  5. Fire Extinguisher

Boundary County does not regulate any of the five foregoing non-Certificate items. In the absence of specific local guidelines for construction, material quality and building practices the potential buyer can ask the seller for a State-licensed home inspection. This inspection would mandate the seller to correct any items found on inspection. This practice is not regulated in any local manner, relying instead on State of Idaho licensed inspectors and procedures.

In addition to these County requirements, the State of Idaho requires an electrical inspection and a plumbing inspection, administered through the Idaho Division of Building Safety. If you are installing a septic system, a permit is required from Panhandle Health; if you are drilling a well, a permit is required from the Idaho Department of Water Resources; and if you are building or improving a driveway connecting to a county road, a permit from County Road and Bridge is required. Information on each agency is provided below.

Boundary County Road & Bridge

PO Box 518
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 267-3838

Idaho Division of Building Safety

1250 Ironwood Dr., Ste 220
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
(800) 955-3044

Idaho Department of Water Resources

7600 Mineral Drive Suite 100
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83815-7763
(208) 762-2800

Panhandle Health

7402 Caribou
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 267-5558

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