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Demolition of Housing

  • If your building is unfit to live in we may make you demolish the house.

What Is It?

Demolition of housing is the complete removal of the building (or buildings). You may be required to demolish housing if we declare it unfit to live in.

What Permits Do you Need?

You need a demolition permit to remove housing.

There are rules restricting demolition of housing that do not apply to demolition of non-residential buildings. You can demolish housing only if:

  • The house is owner occupied
  • It has not been used as rental housing within the last 6 months
  • You have already been issued a permit for a new use or a new building at the site
  • You use and meet the rules for residential deconstruction described in Director's Rule 4-2009, Demolition Permits With Waste Diversion Plan
  • The housing will be relocated
  • We issue an order declaring the property unfit to live in
  • Your project is in a master planned community zone

You cannot demolish housing to create non-required parking. There are also limits on demolition of landmarks; consult the Department of Neighborhoods Historic Preservation Program, (206) 684-02284. You need to follow the tenant relocation rules if the building you plan to demolish has tenants.

Your demolition permit application must include proof that you have contracted a licensed pest control company to eliminate any rats that may be on your demolition site.

We require salvage assessments for all projects that include demolition, including whole building removal and alterations.

If you want to demolish housing in an environmentally critical area, such as a wetland or steep slope, there are different restrictions you must follow.

You must meet asbestos survey requirements before you can obtain a demolition permit. Contact the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency at (206) 689-4058.

You may also need to apply for electrical service changes or new services from Seattle City Light.

Research the Code

Read the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) section on demolition of housing, SMC 23.40.006.

Should You Hire a Professional?

Unless we determine otherwise, plans accompanying small residential demolition projects rarely require a professional’s stamp indicating the project was designed, or reviewed, by an architect or engineer. You may prepare the drawings yourself or hire a professional to help you. Larger residential projects are more likely to require professional drawings. 

Work such as rat abatement and asbestos surveys must always be done by licensed professionals. Whether the demolition itself is done by you or by a contractor, the work must meet all code requirements including best management practices. See the Demolition Permit page for more details.

What Do You Want To Do?

Still Need Help?

 Ask Us

  • Visit our Applicant Services Center
    700 5th Avenue, 20th floor
    M, W, F: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
    T, Th: 10:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
    (arrive before 2:00 p.m. for walk-in service)
  • For unfit buildings, visit Code Compliance
    700 Fifth Ave., 19th floor
    M, T, Th, F: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
    W: 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.