Grading is the process of changing your property’s ground level.
You may need a grading permit if your project includes any of these activities:
If your grading project is part of a construction permit application, you do not need a separate grading permit.
For a complete list of work that needs a grading permit, and for possible exemptions, see Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 22.170.060. In general, you will need a grading permit if your project will include any of the following:
You will need a grading permit for work in a shoreline district (the land within 200 feet of the ordinary high water mark of most lakes and bays and the Puget Sound) if:
You will need a grading permit for work In Environmentally Critical Areas and Buffers if you are disturbing land in:
In addition, in environmentally critical areas and buffers, you need a grading permit and possibly an environmental review if:
Whether you need a permit or not, you need to meet all code requirements such as restrictions on land disturbance in ECAs and their buffers.
The fee for review a grading permit is based on the time it takes us to complete the review. Our review fee is based on the Seattle DCI hourly rate.
How long it takes us to review your grading permit application depends on the complexity of your project. Depending on the scope of your project, we may take 2 days, 2 weeks, or 8 weeks for the initial review. Each additional review cycle takes 1 to 2 weeks.
Get your property information. Find property information to help you plan your project.
Determine restrictions to your project. Research the codes to determine requirements and limits for your project.
Determine if you need an environmental review. You might need an environmental (SEPA) review in addition to a grading permit. We need several months to do a SEPA review, which must be submitted before you apply for a grading permit.
Attend a coaching session. We offer 20 minutes of free coaching to answer drainage, land use, geotechnical or construction permit questions. If you need a longer coaching session, we offer one-hour sessions for $250.
Get a project number. Get a project number by starting your application online or by submitting a preliminary application. You will need to include either a location plan (for interior work) or a site plan (for exterior work). 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 next steps, what to include in your plans, and what to provide at your intake appointment.
Request a pre-submittal conference (optional). We recommend pre-submittal conferences for very complex projects, including buildings with unusual structural systems, substantial alterations, or work in environmentally critical areas or shorelines. One-hour pre-submittal conference fees vary based on the type of conference you need.
Apply for exemptions. You may need an exemption from code requirements if your project is located in an environmentally critical area or near the shoreline.
Prepare your plans. Plans should be to scale and easy to read and scan.
Fill out forms.
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:
Get your project screened by our permit techs. We screen your application to make sure it’s ready to submit. Screening is available on a walk-in basis at the Applicant Services Center on the 20th floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower.
Schedule an intake appointment. Call (206) 684-8850 to schedule an intake appointment at the Applicant Services Center, or schedule an electronic appointment. You may schedule an appointment without screening if you are a consistently prepared applicant with a rating of 80 percent or better.
Pay fees. You will pay an initial fee for one hour of review. We will add other reviews (e.g. geotechnical review) depending on the scope of your project. All reviews will be at our hourly rate.
Make corrections and resubmit your plans. Your project reviewer will send you a corrections letter if changes are needed.
Pick up or print permit. You will be contacted when your plans are approved. You can 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 your permit and approved plans from your Seattle DCI Project Portal.
Pay fees. You will need to pay all 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.
Request an inspection. See the construction inspections page for when to call us and how to schedule your inspection.
Get special inspections. If we assigned special inspections as part of your grading permit, some parts of your project will need to be inspected during construction. See the special inspections page for more details.
Close out Special Inspections for your project. See the special inspections page for information on how to submit a final letter to us for review.
Close your permit. Your permit information will be archived in our electronic document management system.