Seattle Permit: Which Projects Need One

If this is your first time going through the permit process in Seattle, you may be wondering if your project even needs a permit in the first place. Here are a few rules of thumb to determine whether your building project requires a Seattle permit, or whether the project is permissible without one.

Projects which Require a Permit

A general guideline for deciding whether a permit is necessary is this: if your project involves building a new structure such as a home or commercial building, or adding onto an existing building, you will most likely require a permit. Additionally, any projects which require major electrical, mechanical, HVAC, plumbing or demolition of an existing building.

Some common projects which require a building permit in the City of Seattle include, but are not limited to:

If you do not get a permit then the City may issue a stop work order against you if you start a building, addition, or remodeling project without a Seattle permit. If you build without a permit or fail to get a final inspection approval, then the City may fine you or take other enforcement action against you. The fines can be up to $500 a day.

The City of Seattle ordinances require that you get a construction permit for projects that involve new construction, renovation, or alterations of buildings. Fortunately, they are available on the City of Seattle’s website. We took the liberty of listing them below. It’s up to you to read up on the codes. The Section labeled SRC stands for Seattle Residential Code and covers residential permits. The SBC stands for the Seattle Building Code and covers Commercial and Industrial uses. Happy Reading.

SRC Section R105.2

SBC Section 106.2

Projects which do NOT Require a Permit

No Seattle permit is necessary for any projects that are considered minor repairs or alterations, nor is a permit usually required for miscellaneous home improvement projects such as patios and concrete slabs, painting, power-washing, refinishing interior wall and ceiling surfaces, insulating existing buildings, or replacement or repair of deteriorated parts of a structure.

Specifically, Even if a permit is not required, your project must meet all code requirements and development standards. You can find information about electrical, plumbing, side sewer, construction, and land use permits on the City of Seattle Permit Types page.

Some small projects do not need a permit. You can find a list of residential projects that do not need permits in Seattle Residential Code Section R105.2

Unless you’re in an environmentally critical area, the following projects usually don’t require a permit.

Minor repairs or alterations. You don’t need a permit for minor repairs or alterations that cost $6,000 or less in any 6-month period. You need a permit for any work on load-bearing supports, changes to the building envelope, and work that reduces egress, light, ventilation, or fire resistance no matter how small the project.

Miscellaneous work. These projects usually don’t require a permit:

  • Patio and concrete slabs on the ground (on grade)
  • Painting or cleaning a building
  • Re-pointing a chimney
  • Installing kitchen cabinets
  • Paneling or other surface finishes over existing wall and ceiling systems
  • Insulating existing buildings
  • In-kind or similar replacement of or repair of deteriorated parts of a structure

Buildings and landscaping. You usually don’t need a permit for

  • A one-story detached accessory building such as a greenhouse, tool or storage shed, playhouse, or similar building if the projected roof area is less than 120 square feet and the building foundation is only a slab on the ground
  • Some retaining walls and rockeries that are not over 4 feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall
  • Fences that are less than 8 feet high and have no concrete or masonry elements higher than 6 feet
  • Arbors or other open-framed landscape structures that don’t exceed 120 square feet in area

Platforms, walks, and driveways. You do not need a permit for these if they are less than 18 inches above grade and not over a basement or other building story.

Roofing and siding replacement. In detached one- and two-family houses, you do not need a permit to replace existing roof sheathing or to repair the roof only you are not making changes to the building envelope and the work is as good as the existing structure.

Dish and panel antennas. You don’t need a permit to install dish and panel antennas that are 6.56 feet (2 meters) or less in diameter or diagonal measurement.

Still have some questions, or not sure what to do next? Let Permit Place help you out. We specialize in navigating the sometimes-tricky Seattle permit process in and can assist you with everything you need to obtain or change a permit. Request a free quote using our online form to see how we can help.

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