Homeowner’s Guide to Permitting

Most cities and counties have a similar process for permitting. The time to complete permitting for each project varies, depending on how complicated the project is and where it is located – counties or larger cities can often take longer to process permits. Building permits sometimes require a civil engineering plan set as well. The City of Seattle’s permit process differs slightly from most other surrounding jurisdictions and can sometimes take longer. Click here to learn about the City of Seattle’s permitting process.

This article applies to Permitting for Residential Repairs, Remodels, or New Construction. For information on permitting short plats, contact us.

1. Pre-submittal or pre-application meeting

For more complex projects, a pre-submittal/pre-application meeting with the jurisdiction is often recommended or required. This involves preparing a preliminary plan set and submitting it to the jurisdiction for initial review. At the meeting, relevant City staff will provide comments and recommendations for design and permitting. CG Engineering will typically attend these meetings with the client.

2. Prepare Engineering Plans

Depending on the project, a site plan may be required, which CG Engineering can complete. Sometimes additional materials are required, like geotechnical reports, surveys, or critical area reports. CG Engineering doesn’t provide these items, but we often work with clients to source these materials from other consultants.

3. Apply for Critical Area Exemptions

3. If your project includes impacts to a critical area or it’s buffer (such as a wetland, stream, or steep slope), a critical area exemption may be required. This typically needs to be completed prior to any construction permitting. Exemptions may require a report from an outside consultant, and CG Engineering can recommend consultants who can produce these.

4. Submit plans and permit application to the jurisdiction, pay fees.

Some jurisdictions require an intake appointment to accept permits, but they typically don’t take too long to schedule. More and more jurisdictions have online permit submittals. There is usually a fee required by the jurisdiction. Many building permits have a fee assessed up front (a review fee) and another fee due before the permit can be issued (the permit fee). For new construction, there are sometimes also impact or mitigation fees assessed at the time of permit issuance, to help offset the impact of the new home to the City’s infrastructure and services. The client is responsible for these fees.

5. Comments and Resubmittals

Most permits require a few cycles of jurisdictional review and plan revisions. The jurisdiction will conduct an initial review and issue comments with requests for plan revisions or more information. CG Engineering will revise the plans as requested and re-submit for another review. Most projects require 1-3 rounds of review and comments.

6. Permit Issuance

Once the jurisdiction has approved the plans and all fees have been paid, the permit can be issued and you can begin construction on your project.

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