Construction - Temporary Structures & Uses

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What Is It?

A temporary permit allows you to use a building or property for something different than its ordinary use for a short period of time. Some common examples include:

  • Temporarily installing prefabricated structures such as offices or classrooms
  • Setting up tents or canopies for a farmer’s market
  • Holding an event for many people in an existing commercial building
  • Building temporary platforms or bleachers for a festival

The Seattle Land Use Code has rules for temporary uses; the Seattle Building Code has rules for temporary structure and occupancies.

Some temporary permits are issued by the Seattle Fire Department. These permits include the temporary use of a building for assembly not more than once every 3 months, or the temporary installation of limited-size tents. See the Seattle Fire Department Special Events section for more information.

How Much Does It Cost?

Our fees are based on the number of temporary structures proposed and/or the duration of the proposed temporary use.

How Long Does It Take?

We try to complete the initial review for temporary permit applications in 2 weeks, though actual review time depends on the scope of work. The total time it takes to get your permit depends on how complex your project is and how many corrections, if any, you need to make to your plans. In addition, if a temporary use will exceed 4 weeks, you may need a discretionary land use permit, which can significantly lengthen the permit review time.

Steps to Get Your Permit


1. Research

Get your property information. Find property information to help you plan your project.

Determine restrictions that apply to your project. Research the codes to determine allowable uses, building size limits, and construction requirements.

2. Start Permit Application

Get a project number. Get a project number by starting your application online or by submitting a preliminary application. You will need to include a site plan or location plan. You can use the number to track your project.

Request a pre-application site visit. You need a pre-application site visit if you will disturb more than 750 square feet of land or disturb any land on a site with an environmentally critical area (other than liquefaction or peat-settlement prone areas). Request a pre-application site visit online or submit a pre-application site visit form. Our report will include information about your site conditions and any additional requirements.

Apply for exemptions. Learn more about exemptions from code requirements.

Coordinate with other agencies. You may need permits or approvals from other agencies. These are the most common agencies you may need to work with for your permit type:

Prepare your plans. Plans should be to scale and easy to read and scan.

Attend a coaching session. If you have questions about requirements for your project, visit the Applicant Services Center for permit coaching.

3. Submit Plans

Submit your application. You can submit your application electronically or in person.

  • Apply electronically: Sign in to your Seattle DCI Project Portal, click on your project number, and upload your application materials and plans. Click the "Submit for Screening" button when you are ready to submit. We will review your plans to make sure they are complete. If changes are needed, we may ask you to revise your plans and submit them again.
  • Apply in person: Bring your application materials and 2 copies of your plans to the Applicant Services Center. We will review your plans on a walk-in basis to make sure they are complete. If changes are needed, we may ask you to revise your plans and come back again.

Pay fees. You pay most of all your fees when you submit your application. If you submit electronically, we will notify you when you need to pay your fees, and you may pay fees online.

Make corrections and resubmit your plans. Your project reviewer will send you a corrections letter if changes are needed.

4. Get Permit

Pick up permit. You will be contacted when your plans are approved. You can then pick up your permit and approved plans at the permit issuance counter in the Applicant Service Center. If you submitted your plans electronically, you can print you permit and approved plans from your Seattle DCI Project Portal.

Pay fees. You will need to pay any outstanding fees to pick up your permit.

Display your permit. Place your permit in a visible location on the project site.

Get related permits. You may need to get additional permits or approvals from other departments.

5. Schedule Inspection

Request an inspection. See the construction inspections page for when to call us and how to schedule your inspection.

6. Complete Project

Close your permit. After your project has passed its final inspection, your permit information will be archived in our electronic document management system.

Remove your temporary structure. If your permit includes a temporary structure, you will need to remove it at the end of your specified time period.

What Do You Want To Do?

Still Need Help?

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  • Call us at (206) 684-8850