Code Compliance

Washington County's Department of Land Use & Transportation, Planning and Development Services Division, is responsible for maintenance and enforcement of the Community Development Code and the Building Codes. County staff review land development projects to ensure compliance with their code-based conditions of approval. They also investigate all land use and building complaints.

Enforcement of Community Development and Building Codes is generally complaint-driven, due to limited resources. The exceptions are when there are life-safety issues. Since Washington County building inspectors are in the field daily, the county can be more proactive in noting possible violations of the Building Code. According to state law, Code Enforcement Officers must either actually observe an infraction in process or have evidence and a witness willing to testify in order to write a Notice of Civil Violation - Washington County Code Chapter 1.14 citation.

The objective in land use and building code compliance proceedings is, first and foremost, to obtain compliance. When a property owner makes a good faith effort towards compliance, aggressive enforcement tactics are not employed and property owners are allowed a reasonable time to comply. If reasonable methods to achieve compliance are not successful, Washington County reserves the right to pursue more aggressive enforcement, as warranted.

When significant life-safety issues are involved, we strive to correct this issue in the shortest time possible by requiring more than a good faith effort to obtain the appropriate permits. 

 

Code Violations - Prioritization

Code Compliance staff will generally respond to potential violations based on the priority ranking listed below. The priority may be adjusted based upon available resources or aggravating circumstances.

Building Services - Priority 1 Violations

These violations consist of fire and life-safety hazards to the public resulting from conditions in or associated with building and/or their sub-systems.

  • Fire and electrocution hazards associated with electrical systems and electrical installations made without permits and inspections.
  • Unsanitary conditions associated with plumbing systems and plumbing installations made without permits and inspections.
  • Dangerous conditions associated with structural construction and structural work without permits and inspections.
  • Any other condition regulated by building codes which present a significant hazard to the public.

Building Services - Priority 2 Violations

These violations may be a violation or infraction of Chapter 14 of the County Code, but are not of a magnitude to be considered a Priority 1 Violation:

  • Construction of small, uninhabited accessory buildings
  • Grading and/or fill activities
  • Fences over 6 feet tall
  • Low voltage wiring

Aggravating Circumstances

Some code violations may have aggravating circumstances requiring a different sequence for compliance activity. The county may choose a different sequence of priority if one or more of the following circumstances are present:

  • The code violation is severe
  • Actions leading to the violation(s) were intentional
  • The violation has existed uncorrected for a significant length of time
  • There is little likelihood of obtaining voluntary compliance
  • Code Compliance is required by the Board of County Commissioners or the Director of Land Use & Transportation

 

How to submit a complaint

Washington County Building Services investigates complaints by the public on possible violations of the Washington County Code (Chapter 14).  If you have a complaint you would like us to investigate, please complete this fillable form and then save it to your computer. You may then choose to submit your complaint using one of the following methods:

  • Fax: 503-846-4875
  • Email: PDSCodeCompliance@co.washington.or.us
  • Mail of Submit in person:
    Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation
    Planning and Development Services Division - Building Services Section
    Code Compliance
    155 N. First Avenue, Suite 350, MS 12
    Hillsboro, OR 97124

NOTE: If there are images or photos to support your complaint, please also include these along with the completed complaint form.