If you are one of the many opening or renovating a retail store, restaurant, or office space in Seattle, then you need reliable support to streamline the process and ensure your project stays on track. Besides being the law, acquiring a permit helps you avoid fines and lawsuits, ensure safety and insurance coverage, and avoid costly repairs or city demands for demolishment.

While some work doesn’t require a permit, most does. A few common projects that require a building permit in the City of Seattle include new construction, alteration, remodeling, demolition, change of use, development in an environmentally critical area, or adding/moving soil. If you are unsure of the Seattle building permit requirements, it’s best to consult an expert to better understand what your project needs.

Looking for a way to start and streamline the permitting process — and track your progress along the way? At Scout Services, we specialize in supporting commercial construction projects with submittals in Seattle and nationwide. Connect with our experienced team and learn more about our process today.

Key Items to Note For Seattle Building Permit Requirements

Type of submittal method: Online
Digital or wet stamps: Digital
Naming convention: Not Required
Timing for standard plan review: 4-6 Weeks
Options for expedited review: No
Contractor license requirement:
Is it okay to submit TBD while out to bid? Yes
Additional filings required: Dependant on project scope of work

Permit Process Overview in Seattle, WA

The permit process and plan review ensures Seattle buildings meet standards for public health and safety — all while achieving strategic goals like energy efficiency and accessibility. Seattle aims to transition to 100% clean energy in their buildings by 2050. By meeting specific green building goals and certifications, your project may be approved for a faster building permit. Even if you aren’t spearheading environmental initiatives, there are still ways to ensure a faster and smoother permit application process by following the steps outlined below.

1. Submit a Preliminary Application

For all new construction applications, Seattle requires a Preliminary Assessment. This submittal includes a preliminary site plan — which can be accessed with the Seattle Services Portal. Once you submit your preliminary application, request the Pre-Application Site Visit, and pay any associated fees, the City of Seattle will visit your project site. You will receive a Preliminary Assessment Report outlining any major project problems and detailing the permit requirements.
We recommend a conversation with City staff — they can answer questions and provide additional suggestions to support the application. Note that for very complex projects, like high-rise structures for example, a Pre-Submittal conference may be an additional requirement. If your project is located in an environmentally critical area or near the shoreline, you may qualify for an exemption.

2. Schedule an Intake Appointment

In Seattle, all new permits require an online intake appointment. Construction permit intake appointments typically take several months to schedule so it is recommended to schedule them well in advance.

3. Submittal and Screening

Before submittal, you must understand the permit type you need to gather your application materials — which can call be submitted through the Seattle Services Portal. Find updated information about new construction, land use permits, and more with the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections. Depending on the type of project, there may be some additional requirements for screening. Typically Seattle building permit requirements include construction drawings, application forms, reports, and other documents. The city of Seattle has a comprehensive list of permitting guidelines, policies, procedures, and requirements for reference.

Once all the plans are ready, they must be uploaded to Seattle’s online permitting system. On the intake appointment date, Seattle will review your application to make sure it is complete and meets submittal requirements.
Building a new office, store, restaurant, hotel, or installing a new sign in Seattle can be challenging to navigate alone. At Scout Services, our Permit specialists can lead the way with our complete understanding of Seattle permits, the requirements, rules, and regulations.

5. Revisions and Review

City staff may request additional information before accepting your permit application. While most permits require a few rounds of review and revisions, partnering with an experienced team can help you minimize the amount of time spent addressing additional requests. To prevent unwanted delays, we recommend you first confirm you have all necessary documents before you submit your application for review.

6. Permit Issuance

For more complex projects, approval time can be longer. To check the status of your permits and plans, follow up with the Seattle Services Portal — accessible whenever you need it. Once fees have been paid and the City of Seattle has approved your plans, you will finally be issued a permit. From this point, you can begin construction of your project.

Stay Ahead of Seattle Building Permit Requirements

At Scout Services, we understand how disruptive the permitting processes can be for architects, general contractors, and engineers. From finding the right documents to meeting the needs of jurisdictions, there are many ways your application can turn on its head. For commercial projects across retail, banking, telecom, hospitality, industrial, and more, you need a reliable team with established expertise to ensure your project launches without a hitch.

Once you are assigned to one of our permit specialists, you can rest assured your Seattle permits will be completed with confidence and will be approved by the city of Seattle. With Scout Services, you get the advantage of streamlining the permitting process with our national database of permit requirements. Whether you have one site or multiple, take the pain out of permitting with an experienced team. Start your next commercial project today with experts who know how to navigate Seattle permits.