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Oregon counties that permit sustainable shelter

 
Posts: 12
Location: Lane County Oregon; Looking for NE Klamath County land
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We're looking for land.  One acre of land preferably to create a sustainable home.  Does anyone have experience with counties in Oregon that embrace (or even accept) buildings that do not adhere to standard practices (and are far better environmentally).  We would like to land in Central Oregon, but are open to other parts of Oregon that would give us some reign to build a sustainable home.  It would be nice to at least narrow our search to areas that have already done what we want to do.  Any help, comments, advice are always appreciated.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 955
Location: Southern Oregon
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There is a fair amount of natural building in Oregon. I don't know the ins and outs of specific counties. I would suggest contacting some local natural builders, or attending workshops in Oregon, others there will be able to provide information for their respective counties.
 
gardener
Posts: 1857
Location: Cascades of Oregon
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Central Oregon is great, however living in Deschuttes County is very expensive tax wise. look at Klamath and  Lake Counties. There are straw bale and earthships in Deschuttes county but since it is the most rapidly growing county in Oregon properties are at a premium price wise.
 
Dawn Compton
Posts: 12
Location: Lane County Oregon; Looking for NE Klamath County land
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Contacting local natural builders is a great idea.  Thank you Stacey!  Also hoping there are Central Oregon permies on this site that have navigated the process and can give us a boost.  Would love to hear from them!
 
Dawn Compton
Posts: 12
Location: Lane County Oregon; Looking for NE Klamath County land
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Central Oregon is great, however living in Deschuttes County is very expensive tax wise. look at Klamath and  Lake Counties. There are straw bale and earthships in Deschuttes county but since it is the most rapidly growing county in Oregon properties are at a premium price wise.

Too right Robert Ray! Deschutes County is expensive all the way around:  the land, permits and taxes.  We're focusing on Klamath County for the moment as a realtor expressed the permit process was less stringent.  But looking into Crook and Jefferson counties as well.
 
Stacy Witscher
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Posts: 955
Location: Southern Oregon
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I'm in Jackson County, but the northeast section. I know there are natural building contractors in this county. My property doesn't have any natural buildings yet, but even when we do, we don't plan on getting permits, so I can't really help with that. But if you end up in Klamath County we won't be far from you.

As far as property taxes, the key seems to be the zoning. We are zoned EFU and the property taxes are quite low. Woodland Resource zoning can give you lower property taxes if you don't actually plan on logging and it's a relatively small parcel. When we were looking into it, rural residential zoning seemed to produce the highest property taxes, but often they allow more homes to be built than EFU or Woodland Resource.
 
Dawn Compton
Posts: 12
Location: Lane County Oregon; Looking for NE Klamath County land
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Stacey Witcher, thanks for the info.  We might be neighbors down the road.  We will definitely look for Exclusive Farm Use (EFU) (had to look it up - newbie on board) zoning as we will have goats and chickens and plans for a large garden.  Do you have animals?  Growing food?  What kind of shelter are you thinking about creating?  We would love to meet with you on one of our land hunt adventures!
 
Stacy Witscher
pollinator
Posts: 955
Location: Southern Oregon
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Dawn - I would be happy to meet with you on one of your excursions, just PM me. We have only been on our property for 6 months. We have a garden. Currently building a chicken coop, and plan to fence for goats next spring. We are hoping to build some detached bedrooms in the future, as well as some private retreat type spaces. We have traditional houses so we only need extra happy places.

FYI- the EFU zoning doesn't mean that you have to farm, just that the land can't be developed as something else and it's taxed differently.  It's a state zoning statute, meaning that the county can't change it, or at least not easily.

Good luck in your search.
 
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I lived in Klamath County a few years back. I talked to the county about natural building, as I was interested in it but never ended up acting on it.  Basically, they are happy to approve anything a certified engineer has signed off on.  There are several straw bale buildings in the county, but the owners had to hire an engineer to review their blueprints and vouch that they were structurally sound.  My memory is fuzzy, but it's either 150 or 200 square feet, such that if you build anything smaller than that you don't need a permit either. So, you can build outbuildings or maybe even a tiny home, without a permit at all, though if it has plumbing it may need a permit at any size. It was 5ish years ago, so I don't remember details. And of course you can always go rogue and proceed without a permit, then ask forgiveness if you get caught.
 
Robert Ray
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Posts: 1857
Location: Cascades of Oregon
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<200 square feet uninhabited does not require a permit. Straw structure in Deschutes County have to be infilled so post and beam essentially and then the straw.
 
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Does anyone know if Wallowa County has allowed any cob buildings?
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