The city of Seattle looked very different before Amazon moved its campus from Beacon Hill in the southeast part of the city to South Lake Union, which is closer to Seattle’s downtown. Amazon has spent nearly two billion dollars on building permits Seattle alone. Seattle has a very streamlined building development process in comparison with larger cities. Let’s take a look at what obtaining a building permit in Seattle entails.
When Do You Need a Seattle Building Permit?
While minor building repairs or remodels that are estimated to come in at under $6,000 won’t require a building permit, practically every other type of structural development in Seattle will. Even projects that come in at under $6,000 will require permits if they involve altering weight-bearing supports or fire safety under existing codes, or if they reduce access to light, ventilation, and exits. You won’t need a permit, however, to install kitchen cabinets or paneling, to build a fence less than eight feet tall (unless masonry elements are more than six feet tall) or to repair your roof.
You will need a construction permit if your building project consists of structural renovations or additions that will exceed $6,000 in costs. The term “addition” includes any kind of changes that affect the footage of outside areas as well as the construction of additional rooms.
The Logistics of Seattle Building Permits
Building permits in Seattle are priced as a percentage of the estimated cost of the entire building project, and three-quarters of that amount is due at the time that you submit your permit application. There may be additional fees in conjunction with certain specialized services such as drainage or geotechnical inspections.
Whenever possible, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) will try to complete the initial review of your building project within three to eight weeks. This does not mean you will obtain your permit after this period of time, however. Frequently, the SDCI will stipulate changes to your building plans. These stipulations will have to be reflected in an updated plan before your building permit will be approved.