General Permit Resources

Required Permits

SMC 16.20.195 "Permits Required":

Any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by this code, or to cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the Building Official and obtain the required permit.

unless the work is specifically “Exempt From A Permit” per SMC16.20.200.

Permit Not Required

Most improvements on a residential or commercial lot require a permit. The following are examples that do not need a permit if the property is not in a critical area or within the standard shoreline setback. :

  • One story-detached accessory buildings used as a tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided that the projected floor area does not exceed 200 square feet, and there are no zoning setback issues.
  • Fences not over 6 feet in height (other fence regulations may apply).
  • Commercial - Moveable cases, counters and partitions not over five feet, nine inches in height.
  • Rockery or site retaining walls that are not over four feet in height, measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II, or III-A liquids or in a critical area.
  • Decks, platforms, walks and driveways not more than 30 inches above grade at any point within five horizontal feet, and not over any basement or story below.
  • Painting, papering and similar finish work.
  • Commercial - Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.
  • Window awnings supported by an exterior wall of a single family home and Group U Occupancies when not projecting more than 54 inches.

Unless otherwise exempted, plumbing, mechanical and electrical permits may be required for the above exempted items.

Please Note: These exemptions are only applicable to required "building" permits. Other permits may still be required for work exempt from a building permit. For example, see SMC 16.15.050 for work that requires (or, is exempted from) a "tree removal" or "grading" permit (otherwise known as a "Clearing and Grading Permit").

The eGov Alliance has prepared a tip sheet for single family properties with frequent questions about whether a permit is required or not. 

See the Permits When Required Tip Sheet.


Re-roof permits are required under any of the following criteria:

  • Residential and commercial buildings that are installing or replacing any portion of the roof decking (sheathing), including the adding of plywood over existing skip sheathing.
  • Commercial buildings receiving a type of roof covering of a different class rating from the existing roof unless the class rating is of a higher classification. The applicant must provide written documentation of what the existing material is, and what is being replaced.
  • Commercial buildings receiving a type of roof covering heavier than the existing system.
  • Commercial buildings receiving new covering over the existing system.
  • Any building with clay tile or concrete tile roofs.

Re-roofs exempt from permits:

  • Single-family residences that are installing composition roofing over composition roofing do not require a permit (a total of two layers maximum).
  • Any building receiving a complete tear off and re-installation of the same type and classification of roofing material (tile not exempted) and roof decking (sheathing) is not being installed or replaced.
  • Alteration of roof coverings less than 100 square feet.


A building permit is required when making any modifications to a deck that is more than 30 inches above grade (measured to the lowest point within three feet of the deck).

Be aware that even if no permit is required, any modified decks or patios must still meet current land use regulations. Contact the Permit Center if you are not sure.

Right of Way Use Permits

The City requires a Right of Way (ROW) permit for any activity that disrupts traffic, restricts access or modifies any infrastructure within the right of way or for any private use of the public right of way. Examples include:
  • Replacement of, or modifications to, driveways
  • Placement of fences or rockeries in the right of way
  • Utility repairs, installation, and maintenance
  • Special Events and Parades (any type of non-construction event held in the Right-of-Way)

To determine whether require a permit and how to obtain one, please see the ROW Use Permits page.