Can my house be rebuilt if it is destroyed by fire or flood?
Yes, any legal dwelling unit destroyed by fire or flood can be rebuilt. Current building code requirements would be applied and the septic system may need to be brought into compliance with current codes.
- Non-conforming dwellings (those built legally but which do not meet current setbacks or density) can generally be rebuilt.
- Houses that meet the allowable density but do not meet the setbacks may be rebuilt on the original footprint (i.e. same size and location) and can be expanded in size provided that the improvements do not increase the non-conforming portion of the structure, such as encroaching further into the setback.)
- Houses destroyed by fire that exceed the allowable density may also be rebuilt at the same size and location, but expansion is limited to a maximum of 10% of the original floor area.
When a home is rebuilt, must it be built in compliance with current building codes?
Yes, the code in effect now is the 2016 California Residential Code, as amended and adopted by Sonoma County. For more information, visit 2016 California Residential Code
Can I rebuild my home on its original footprint even if it would not meet the current Riparian Corridor setbacks?
If your original home was legally constructed before the Riparian Corridor regulations went into effect, your replacement home may be constructed on the same footprint as the original house. However, you are encouraged to locate your replacement home further away from the river or stream if feasible. No planning permit is required as long as the replacement home is not any larger than the original house.
Will I need to upgrade my driveway entrance when rebuilding after the fire?
Permit Sonoma will not require driveway entrance upgrades for rebuilds due to the Sonoma Complex Fire. This policy modification only applies to rebuilds destroyed by the Sonoma Complex Fire. Current policy is still in effect for everything else. You will also need to check with Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services to determine whether they have any additional requirements for the driveway.
What design professionals will I need to hire as I rebuild my home?
It depends on the design of the home. At a minimum, a simple home design would require, a designer, and a Calgreen and Energy consultant. More complex designs would require an architect, a civil engineer, a geotechnical engineer, and a Calgreen and Energy consultant. Note: The majority of rebuilt homes in the burn areas will require a geotechnical engineer to evaluate the soils. A septic consultant will be required to evaluate the functionality of the existing septic system.
Is the geotechnical report required on each individual lot a requirement to rebuild?
If the home was destroyed, a cleanup is required. Whether the property owner participates in the Sonoma County Consolidated Debris Removal Program (administered by Sonoma County Department of Health Services Environmental Health) or a Private Debris Clean-Up, a soils analysis of the burned area (house footprint) will be required.
If the house that I plan to rebuild has 10,000 square feet or more of impervious surface, do I need to adhere to Low Impact Development requirements for post-construction best management practices (BMP) implementation?
When rebuilding, do I need to do Energy Calculations and comply with the provisions of CALGreen??
Yes, you will need to do Energy Calculations and you will need to comply with the provision of CALGreen. For more information, visit Residential Plan Checklist
If a home that burned down had an EPA compliant wood stove in it, can another be reinstalled?
Can a house be rebuilt on a fire-damaged foundation?
Applicants who wish to use the existing foundation systems must have a “suitability analysis” of the existing foundation performed by a registered civil or structural engineer. This analysis shall state that the engineer has visited the site and investigated the condition of the existing building elements. It shall also state that the remaining foundation is suitable for the support of the new structure, and that all under-slab utility systems (such as drain, waste, vent, water, mechanical, electrical, etc.) are suitable for continued use. Electrical conduits may remain but all under-slab electrical conductors must be replaced.
Can I leave my damaged foundation in place and enclose my old foundation with a new foundation?
Yes, provided the new foundation does not rely on the structural integrity of the old foundation. If you go with the public debris removal option, the Army Corps of Engineers may remove the foundation. More information on the debris removal program
Do I need to have a survey done to re-establish a lot line when rebuilding my property?
No survey will be required except for the following limited instances:
- The structure has zero lot line setback.
- During the first inspection, the Permit Sonoma inspector cannot clearly see a marked offset that complies with drawings and existing structures/houses/trees, etc.
Do I need to mark my property line prior to building inspections?
Yes, prior to the first inspection, all sites must have clear paint or string Property Line markers.