Do You Need a Permit?

There are several benefits to getting a permit for your project, including increasing the resale value, ensuring your insurance company will cover repairs, and avoiding complaints about unpermitted work.

Most projects in Seattle require a permit. For a quick reference to commonly required permits, see:

Some small projects do not need a permit. You can find a list of work that doesn't require a permit in:

Even if you don't need a permit, 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 Permit Types page.

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. The $6,000 limit is based on fair market value of labor and parts, even if you do the work yourself.

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
  • Abatement of hazardous materials
  • Limited in-kind repair or similar replacement 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.

Underground storage tanks. You do not need a permit from us to remove or replace underground storage tanks that are subject to regulation by a state or federal agency. A Seattle Fire Department permit is required to remove, replace, and decommission underground storage tanks.


Construction and Inspections

Nathan Torgelson, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA, 98124-4019
Phone: (206) 684-8600
Phone Alt: Violation Complaint Line: (206) 615-0808
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SDCI issues land use, construction, and trade permits, conducts construction and housing-related inspections, ensures compliance with our codes, and regulates rental rules. SDCI is committed to an antiracist workplace and to addressing racism through our work in the community.