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Building Permit FAQs

  1. Is a permit required for a deck at my single family residence?
  2. Do I need a permit for a detached storage shed at my single family residence?
  3. How long will it take to get a permit?
  4. Do I need a permit to enclose the carport at my single family residence?
  5. Can I add onto my house?
  6. Can I draw my own plans or do I need to have an architect draw my plans?
  7. What scale should my plans be?
  8. Do I have to hire a contractor or can I build this project myself?
  9. What are the hours of construction?
  10. Do I need a permit to add, remove or modify an interior wall?
  11. Why do I need a thermal expansion tank for my water heater?
  12. Do I need a permit to build a rockery or other retaining wall?
  13. Do I need to get a permit to bring in a load of dirt to landscape?
  14. How much does a permit cost?

Don't see your question here? Check Planning FAQs. Check Public Works FAQs.


  1. Is a permit required for a deck at my single family residence?
    Yes, if the deck is more than 30 inches above the grade level measured within 5 feet adjacent to the deck. Please check out the Basic Decks Construction Tip Sheet for some help with your deck building project.  Also note that although the Building Department may not require a permit, sometimes Zoning regulations may affect the size and location potential of a deck.  Always contact the Planning Department before beginning a project.

  2. Do I need a permit for a detached storage shed at my single family residence?
    Not if the shed is 1 story (provided that the height does not exceed 12' measured from grade plane to the highest point of the roof) and the combined floor area and usable area under the roof projection measures less than 200 square feet total.  Even if a building permit is not required, the structure you build must comply with current building code minimum standards as well as all Zoning requirements.  All other structures over the 200 square feet or 12' tall as described above will require a building permit.

  3. How long will it take to get a permit?
    The process of obtaining a permit is an interactive process. Factors that influence the length of time to obtain a permit are as follows:
    • Completeness, accuracy and clarity of the plans and application
    • Lot/property specific issues
    • Availability of contacts (owner, agent, architect, engineer etc.) to answer reviewer questions
    • Workload of City Staff at the time of permit application
    • The type of permit
    Depending on the type of permit and the factors listed above, the length of time will vary greatly. For example, a very small interior-only project with no engineering requirements might qualify for 1-3 days, but a complex project may take 6 weeks for the City to review. If plan corrections are required, an additional review will be required.  The 2nd review is typically done within 2 weeks.

  4. Do I need a permit to enclose the carport at my single family residence?
    Yes. Concerns such as protection from decay, and the possibility of additional wind-load created by adding wall surface area are checked during the review of the plans and permit application. Job site inspections take this to the next step by looking for building code conditions that can only be verified during construction.

  5. Can I add onto my house?
    First talk to the Planning Department for height restrictions, setbacks from the property lines and allowable lot coverage. If your project fits within the Planning Department requirements, contact Building Services for applicable building, plumbing, mechanical, energy and electrical codes & guides.

  6. Can I draw my own plans or do I need to have an architect draw my single family plans?
    For most detached single family residential projects you may draw your own plans if you have the ability. The main requirements are that the plans accurately convey the scope of the project, include adequate details and dimensions, and all applicable job site conditions are on the plans.  It may be necessary to have the property surveyed for property lines, elevations and more, depending on the project.

  7. What scale should my plans be?
    1/4 inch = 1 foot is an acceptable scale for plan views, elevations and sectional views.  Drawings intended to show more detailed information are commonly scaled at 1/2 or 3/4 inch = 1 foot.  Site plans typically are scaled 1:10 and are sized to fit on the submitted sheets, but must not be too small to read easily.  Please label all scales used on the plans.

  8. Do I have to hire a contractor or can I build this single family project myself?
    You may do your own construction on the home you own or live in.  You are not allowed to do electrical work or plumbing on structures you do not own unless you are licensed to do this work as required by Washington State law.

  9. What are the hours of construction?
    Development activity and heavy equipment operation is restricted to 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. No development activity or heavy equipment operation may occur on Sundays or on the following Holidays: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. The Planning Official may grant written permission to engage in a development activity or to operate heavy equipment outside of the hours established if this will not interfere with any residential use that is permitted in the zone in which it is located. Call the Planning Department at 425-587-3600 for the application form. The form should be submitted to the Planning Department for review.

  10. Do I need a permit to add, remove or modify an interior wall?
    Yes, regardless of whether or not the interior wall is load-bearing. The removal or modification of an interior wall or exterior wall requires a permit, as does the addition of an interior wall. This kind of work is considered to be a single family alteration/remodel.

  11. Why do I need a thermal expansion tank for my water heater?
    Water purveyors are installing backflow prevention devices at the water meter and plumbers are often required to install pressure reducing valves.  Each will create a “closed” system in the waterline.  Without an expansion tank, there is no place for water to expand as it is heated in your water heater and the over-pressure device activates with each batch of heated water, releasing a small amount of water.  Frequent occurrence such as this could create a buildup of minerals and/or prematurely wear out the over-pressure device.  You cannot eliminate the over-pressure device because an increase of pressure could burst pipes or create a potentially life-threatening explosion hazard. You need both an over pressure device and a thermal expansion tank to take care of the excess pressure.  You can see a diagram of a properly outfitted water heater by checking out the Water Heater Construction Tip Sheet.

  12. Do I need a permit to build a rockery or other retaining wall?
    A permit is required if the rockery or retaining wall is more than 4 feet high (measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall) or if it is supporting a surcharge such as a slope or additional back-filled soil, a structure, driveway or any other similar load.  Otherwise, even if a permit appears not to be required, it is important to contact Development Services when considering a rockery to avoid locating it in the public way, prevent damage to utilities and trees, and other concerns.

  13. Do I need to get a permit to bring in a load of dirt to landscape?
    Whether or not a permit is needed largely depends on the amount of dirt involved and what is being done with it. If 50 cubic yards of dirt is being cut and/or filled, a Land Surface Modification permit is required. Otherwise, movement of any amount of dirt that changes a drainage course, such as filling in a low spot on the property, requires a permit. Even if a permit appears not to be required, it is important to contact Development Services to prevent damage to utilities and trees, deflection of water to neighboring properties, and to address many other concerns. Sometimes, an inspector will have to go to the site to check out the property and then decide if the project will require a permit or not.

  14. How much does a permit cost?
    Permit fees are largely based on the construction value of work that is being performed. See the Building Valuation Data Table & Fee Subtitle to learn how the value of work is calculated and what the relevant fees are.

Building Services
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday
Counter closed 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday
123 Fifth Avenue, Kirkland WA 98033

General Inquiries
T. 425.587.3600 | F. 425.587.3651
Building_Services@kirklandwa.gov