If you're planning to build an entirely new house from the ground up, you need to apply for a Plan Review permit.
Step 1 (Coaching) is optional but highly recommended, Step 5 (Screening) is required unless you are on DPD’s Consistently Prepared Applicant list. Step 7 is the application submittal. DPD’s goal is to provide you with assistance in advance of your application submittal, so that the application materials are complete and accurate, reducing the need for correction cycles that will delay approval. Below are seven steps for submitting your application.
Application Submittal Steps
Step 1. Coaching - Highly Recommended
This is not required, but is highly recommended for applicants who are unfamiliar with DPD’s permit process. No appointment or fee is necessary for this session with a permit specialist; which is available at any time during the preparation of your application. The purpose is to provide you with specific code and application requirements, including fee estimates.
Step 2. Research & Prepare a Preliminary Site Plan for Your Proposed Project
The site plan should be prepared according to the standards outlined in CAM 103, Site Plan Requirements, and CAM 103A, Site Plan Guidelines. Site plans should show the location and dimensions of all existing and proposed development, the general topography of your site, and the existing level of street and alley improvements in the right-of-ways abutting your site.
Step 3. Submit a DPD Preliminary Permit Application Package to the Applicant Services Center
Once you know for sure that you have a single family project requiring plan review in Seattle, you should submit a DPD Preliminary Application package. A separate package is required for any required land use permits. The DPD Preliminary Application package can be obtained during coaching or on our Forms website, and includes the following:
- DPD Preliminary Application Form
- 2 copies of the preliminary site plan, meeting the standards of CAM 103 and CAM 103A (Step 2).
The Preliminary Application package does not constitute a permit application, but informs City departments that you intend to apply for a permit in the near future. The DPD permit application packet can be dropped off at the DPD Applicant Services Center (ASC) (location & hours), faxed to (206) 233-7866, or mailed to the ASC at 700 Fifth Ave., P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA 98124-4019.
Information required in the application includes: owner and applicant information, a project description and project characteristics, and property related information, including the legal description and the King County Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN). After screening the preliminary application for completeness, DPD staff will provide a project number, which will be used in tracking the project throughout the permitting process. DPD staff will conduct a pre-application site visit (PASV) when the project involves ground disturbance.
For projects involving the construction of a new house, the application information will be shared with other City departments so that DPD and other City departments have the opportunity to inform you of important requirements, such as required right-of-way and utility improvements or whether the site is in an environmentally critical area (ECA). DPD will notify the applicant of these requirements by mail, email or fax. It will take approximately 2-3 weeks for City requirements to be identified. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you submit the Preliminary Permit Application package a minimum of 8 weeks prior to your desired date for project submittal. Submitting this application form early will provide the time necessary to incorporate any requirements identified by City departments into your project design prior to submittal.
Step 4. Prepare Detailed Plans for Submittal
The City requirements that are sent to the applicant in Step 3 should be incorporated into the project design and plan documentation, and the detailed plans for the proposed development should be finalized. Plan requirements:
- Drawings (see CAMs 103, 103A, 106 and 303)
- Plan sets – minimum of 3 full sets (for new construction).
Additional plan sets may be required if your project involves a variance, or shoreline or ECA review. ASC staff will provide that information on a project-specific basis.
Using Licensed Professionals
As an owner you may elect to obtain your own permits. If you choose to prepare your own application materials, DPD staff will assist you as much as is reasonably possible. However, we strongly recommend using a professional designer or licensed builder. Fully prepared applications are required for all plan review projects, and well-prepared plans have a much higher chance of being reviewed more quickly and with fewer corrections (unless your project has unusual structural elements or involves variances, shoreline or ECA). For complex structural projects you may need to have your plans stamped by a licensed architect or engineer. DPD staff cannot recommend designers and builders, but we suggest consulting the Yellow Pages, and design and construction associations, for information about their services.
For Plan Review projects your plan sets with supporting documents and the DPD Coversheet constitute your application. There is no general application form to fill out. The required documents listed below are available from the ASC (location & hours), or on the Forms website:
- DPD Coversheet – plan size 24" x 36", requires owner and project information. Coversheets must be attached to each set of plans.
- DPD Preliminary Application Form
- Building or Mechanical Permit Contact Disclosure Form – required for all construction projects with a value of more than $5,000, and requires information under Washington state law that must be posted at the job site (e.g., owner, prime contractor, lending institution, etc.).
- Temporary Erosion and Sedimentation Control (TESC) Standard Plan – usually required for projects causing 750 square feet or more of land disturbing activity. (Projects resulting in 5000 square feet or more of new or replaced impervious surface will require a drainage control plan designed by a licensed civil engineer.) The issues addressed by the TESC Plan include soil stabilization over winter months, sediment retention on-site, prevention of pollution, and construction vehicle access.
- Equipment Sizing Form – deals with Energy Code requirements, is needed if your project contains over 500 square feet of new heated space.
- Target UA Calculation Form – required if you are not using the Prescriptive Energy Code compliance standards.
- Financial Responsibility – For projects with earth disturbance or projects without earth disturbance but a construction value greater than $50,000.
Step 5. Screening
Screening is required prior to submitting your application, unless you are on the DPD list of consistently prepared applicants (CPA) (see CAM 121, Criteria for Consistently Prepared Applicant Submittals). No appointment or fee is required for this review with an experienced reviewer. This review is to verify the completeness of the plans, forms and other documents prior to submittal. Steps 2 and 3 above must be completed prior to screening. Screening is provided in the ASC (location & hours), on a walk-in basis; expect some wait time.
Step 6. Submit Your Street Improvement Engineering Plans to the Seattle Department of Transportation
Very few single family projects will require street or alley improvements, but some may require curb cuts (see item D on Single Family Residence Permits packet page). For those that do, the street improvement plans will need to be submitted to Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), and accepted for review, prior to submitting your construction permit plans to DPD. Construction permit applications for new buildings will not be accepted by DPD until SDOT plan submittal has occurred. SDOT notifies DPD electronically with the date on which the plans are accepted for review, which must be prior to the construction permit intake appointment.
Step 7. Intake
Applications for Plan Review are made by appointment. All individuals not on the DPD list of consistently prepared applicants (CPA) must go through, and have screening approved for intake. For more information about the CPA list, please see CAM 121, Criteria for Consistently Prepared Applicant Submittals. Intake is never guaranteed during a screening session, but it is sometimes possible. Those with a sufficient successful intake percentage on the CPA list can bypass screening and call for intake appointments. Appointments are made for a set time and day, and can last over an hour. Approximately 75 percent of the fee is paid at intake. Intake appointment wait times vary seasonally, from three working days to several weeks. Visit the ASC (location & hours), or call (206) 684-8850 to make an appointment.
Permit fees are established by the Seattle Permit Fee Subtitle available from the PRC, (206) 684-8467, or on DPD's fees website.
Required Reviews and Estimated Turnaround Times
For single family plan review projects, zoning and building code reviews are always required. Depending on your specific proposal, additional reviews for your project could include ECA, shoreline, drainage/grading. Turnaround times for initial plan reviews vary throughout the year. The following estimates are useful as general guides only.
- Non-complex new home: 2 weeks
- Complex new home or addition/alteration: 6-7 weeks
It is common for reviewers to require corrections on complex projects. It’s important to note that many “corrections” are actually requests for more information. Comprehensive, well-prepared plans will reduce the need for these corrections. Corrections are sent by mail, with the reviewer’s name and phone number. Contact your reviewer directly if you have questions about the requested corrections. Plans needing correction can be either mailed directly to you or picked up at the Plans Routing Library, located on the 21st floor of Seattle Municipal Tower at 700 Fifth Ave. (will be moved to 20th floor on May 16, 2011). Once the applicant makes the corrections requested and revised plans have been submitted back to the Plans Routing Library, it will usually take 1-2 weeks for staff to re-review the project.
*To keep your project on time, it's advisable to plan for more than one round of reviews when creating a schedule for your project.
Tracking Your Permit Plan Review
You can get information about your permit as it is being processed by accessing DPD’s Permit Complaint and Status tool.
Approved plans are issued at the Plans Routing desk in the ASC (location & hours), and can be picked up on a walk-in basis. You will be notified by phone or mail when your plans are ready for issuance, including any remaining fees that must be paid at issuance. Please do not visit the ASC to pick up your permit until you are notified.
To request a building inspection (for all permits), call the 24-hour Inspection Request Line at (206) 684-8900. Same day inspections are provided for requests made by 7 a.m. Or, use our Request an Inspection online. If you have questions for your inspector call (206) 684-8950.
The Public Resource Center (PRC) is DPD’s general information center, and provides information documents, codes and access to current Master Use Permit files. The PRC is also the home of the Microfilm Library, where plans and permit history may be available for your property.
The Applicant Services Center (ASC) provides application assistance and intake for all applications to DPD, including Master Use Permits, Building Permits and associated permits such as electrical, furnace, boiler and sign. The ASC includes the Drainage and Site Development Desks.
The PRC and ASC are located on the 20th floor of Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 Fifth Ave.
- ASC main phone number: (206) 684-8850
- PRC main phone number: (206) 684-8467
Codes to Help with Single Family Applications
CAMs offer code information but are not the actual codes. For simple projects, the CAMs may provide most or all of the information you need to complete your project. For more complex projects you will need to consult the various Codes and Director’s Rules.
The Codes most often related to a single family project:
- Seattle Land Use Code (Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) Chapter 23)
- Seattle Building Code
- Seattle Residential Code
- Seattle Energy Code
- Washington State Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality Code (Washington Administrative Code Ch 51-13)
- Stormwater, Grading and Drainage Control (SGDC) Code (SMC Ch. 22.800-22.808)
- Environmentally Critical Areas (ECA) Ordinance (SMC Ch. 25.09)
May 2, 2011