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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

Apply for a project number. Get a project number by starting your preliminary application online through your Project Portal. You will need to upload a site plan and a complete legal description for your site.

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 through your Project Portal. You'll receive an email once we have added the pre-application site visit (PASV) fees to your project. After you have paid the fee, we will perform the inspection. Your preliminary application materials will be sent to other departments for their review and comment as part of this process. You will receive a preliminary application report that will include critical information about whether you need Design Review, SEPA, or street improvements. Our report will include information from the utilities about your specific site and proposal. Our report will also identify potential project stoppers.

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. If your project includes a temporary structure that is open to the public or adjacent to areas open to the public, you will need an engineered design by a Washington State licensed structural engineer.

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

3. Submit Plans

Upload your plans. Sign in to your Seattle DCI Project Portal, click on your project number, and upload your application materials and plans.

Schedule an appointment. You typically do not need a formal intake appointment for a temporary permit applications. Call (206) 684-8850 to contact a temporary permits facilitator to set up a time to bring in your application materials.

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. Once all of our reviews are done, you will receive an email telling you that corrected and/or additional documents can be uploaded into your portal. Your project may require multiple correction rounds before our reviews are complete.

4. Get Permit

Pay final fees. We will notify you to pay any final fees before we issue your permit.

Print your permit and approved plan set. We will notify you when we have issued your permit and the documents are available in your Seattle DCI Project Portal. Print the permit and approved plan set and have it on site for our inspector.

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?

 Ask Us

  • Call us at (206) 684-8850