When Is a Permit Required?

A permit is required for the following project categories. When you apply for a permit, remember you will also need an inspection. If you need a permit, then you will need an inspection, whether it is for commercial building, site road development or a homeowner permit.

The four project categories below cover general homeowner types of permits.

Project Categories

The projects listed below are grouped into four general categories:

  1. Accessory Buildings (includes sheds);
  2. Home Improvement and Repair Projects;
  3. Appliance Installations (includes replacements); and
  4. Miscellaneous.

Type of Permit and Symbols

The symbols listed below appear in the permit/plans column to indicate the type of permit required. The symbols denote:

  • B    —    Building Permit
  • E    —    Electrical Permit
  • M   —    Mechanical Permit
  • P    —    Plumbing and Gasfitting Permit Issued by Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC)
  • G   —    Grading Permit
  • N    —    No Permit or Plans Required
  • Y    —    Plans Required
1.  Accessory Buildings PermitPlans
Build shed that is more than 150 square feet BY
Build storage shed that is 150 square feet or less (only one allowed per lot without permit)NN
Any shed that is attached to a building or carportBY
Build farm building (on farm property, agricultural use only)E*N

*Electrical and Mechanical Contractors License required to obtain electrical and mechanical trade permits.

2.  Home Improvement and Repair ProjectsPermitPlans
Install exterior sidingNN
Replace roof shingles (no structural repair involved)NN
Replace roof sheathingBY
Panel interior walls without partitionsNN
Put up partitions and finish rec room (electric/plumbing, separate permits required)BY
Exact window and/or door replacement (no structural alteration)NN
Install prefabricated fireplaceBY
Build masonry chimney for stoveBY
Build masonry fireplaceBY
Construct entrance way/area way into basementBY
Construct, dig or enlarge a basement under existing dwellingBY
Driveways and paving BY
Foundation waterproofingBY
Build patio less than 500 square feet on grade (no steps; cannot be used to park vehicles)NN
Build above-grade patioBY
Build patio coversBY
Replace or install carpetingNN
Replace or install kitchen counter or bathroom counterNN
Replace interior or exterior doorNN
Enclose carpetBY
Build or replace porch or deckBY
Relocate stairsBY
PierB, GY
BulkheadB, GY
Mooring pileB, GY
Boat liftBY
Build dormersBY
Install a hardwood or asphalt tile floor on a subfloorNN
Install kitchen cabinetsNN
Replace switch platesNN
Replace electrical wiringE* 
Relocate switches, outlets, lighting fixtures and sub-panelsE* N
Relocate service entrance cable or change the size of serviceE* N
Install smoke detectors (if connected to house wiring)E* N
Replace circuit breakersE* N
Replace kitchen stove exhaustE* N

*Electrical and Mechanical Contractors License required to obtain electrical and mechanical trade permits.

3.  Appliance InstallationsPermitPlans
Install electric air conditioning**E, M*N
Install gas air conditionM, P* N
Install heat pumpE, M* N
Install well-water pumpE* N
Install humidifierE* N
Install boiler (gas, oil, etc.)E, M, P* N
Install portable cooling unit (i.e., window A/C)**NN
Install electronic air cleanerE* N
Install attic fanE* N
Install oil furnaceE, M* N
Install gas furnaceE, M, P* N
Install electric furnaceE* N

 *Electrical and Mechanical Contractors License required to obtain electrical and mechanical trade permits.
**Cord and plug connection does not require permit.

4.  MiscellaneousPermitPlans
Build retaining walls (over 2 feet high)BY
Build brick or block privacy wall (over 4 feet high)BY
Install hot tub/spa/poolB, E*Y
Construct fences (over 4 feet high/6 feet limit)BY
Install outdoor gas barbecue (if served by Washington Gas Light Co.)PN
Install swimming pool (if connected to WSSC, permit required)B, E* Y
Install solar heating systemM, B, E* N
Erect freestanding radio or TV antenna or satellite dish 18 inches or more in diameterB, E* Y
Demolish building (RAZE Permit)B, P**N

 *Electrical and Mechanical Contractors License required to obtain electrical and mechanical trade permits.
**Requires disconnect letters from all utility companies.