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Often times we are asked the question, “When do I need a Building Permit" and, although there are exceptions now and then, the rules are pretty clear. The International Building Codes dictate the conditions where permits are not required and that leaves us to conclude that anything else not specifically mentioned will require a permit.

Work exempted from permits are listed briefly as:
1. One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet. Such structures must also be located inside of the building setback line, typically 5 feet from the side property line and 20 feet from the rear property line.
2. Fences not over 6 feet high.
3. Rockeries & retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height, unless supporting a surcharge. Rockeries or retaining walls over 30" are not allowed in setbacks.
4. Sidewalks and driveways not more than 30 inches above grade and not over any basement or story below and which are not part of an accessible route.
5. Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, countertops, and other similar finish work.
6. Temporary theater stage sets and scenery.
7. Residential window awnings supported by an exterior wall when projecting not more than 54 inches out from the wall and that do not require additional support.
8. Prefabricated swimming pools in which the pool walls are entirely above grade, less than 24 inches deep, and the capacity does not exceed 5000 gallons.
9. Moveable cases, counters, and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches in height.
10. Decks not exceeding 200 square feet in area, that are not more than 30” above grade at any point, and are not attached to a dwelling and do not serve an exit door required by Section R311.4.  
11. Like-for-like re-roofing of 1 and 2 family dwellings, provided that the roof sheathing is not removed or replaced.  
Other exemptions, which apply to non-residential structures, are not listed here. If you are finishing a basement, building an addition, remodeling, adding a plumbing fixture, gas appliance or air conditioner, a permit will be needed prior to starting the work.

Submittal requirements vary with the type of permit. That information can be obtained by contacting the permit coordinator at (425) 649-4444.

If a contractor will be used for any portion of the permitted activity, a state business license is required, as well as a city business license. Any hired individual or company is required to have a city business license, which costs $50 for an entire calendar year. Failure to comply with any of the permit requirements will result in the permit not being issued or a stop work order being posted after the permit is issued.

With any permit, at least one inspection is required. When the permit is issued, the applicant is informed of the required inspection(s) and a sign-off card is normally provided. A project is not considered complete unless given a final approval by the inspector. Copies of all inspection reports are left at the site and are to be kept with the permit documents.

Any situations not specifically described above or situations that are unique to the processes listed must be approved by the building official. The building official must approve alternate materials, methods, or codes prior to proceeding with the work.

All permits shall expire after two years from the date of issuance, regardless of whether the work is completed. If a permit is expired for time, a new permit may be obtained for ½ of the original permit fee provided that no changes have been or will be made in the original plans and specifications for such work.


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