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When do I need a permit?

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When do I need a building permit?

Most construction projects in the City of Tumwater require a building permit. In addition to construction of new buildings, renovation, remodels, repairs, building additions, demolition and relocation, plumbing, electrical (issued by L&I) mechanical construction and repair work also require a permit. Other non-construction activities that require permits are tree removal, land clearing and sign placement.

For example, a building permit is required when building or installing:

  • a new structure
  • decks
  • patio or deck roof cover
  • chimneys
  • garage
  • ventilation, heating or air conditioning supply or exhaust
  • fences over seven feet (7') high
  • tool or storage sheds over 200 square feet in area
  • swimming pool (in ground or above ground)

Adding to or changing:

  • rooms
  • dormers, bay windows or other wall openings
  • electric water heater or any other parts of the plumbing system
  • furnaces, gas water heaters, or any other parts of the heating and gas system
  • circuits or any other parts of the electrical system
  • walls to a porch or carport
  • garage to a livable area

Replacing or repairing:

  • roofing
  • termite damage, rot and water damage (replacing siding, foundation, etc.)
  • porches or decks
  • existing stone, brick or concrete
  • wall covering (excluding wallpaper and paint)

If you are in doubt as to whether or not a permit is required on work you are proposing, or have related questions, please call Community Development at (360) 754-4180.

What type of construction work does not require a building permit?

A building permit is not required for items such as wallpapering, painting, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops or similar finish work; fences six feet-six inches high or lower; platforms, decks and walks 30 inches high or lower above grade that are not attached to a dwelling; and swings or other playground equipment accessories not connected to the family dwelling. 

In addition, a permit is not required for one-story detached accessory structures used as a tool or storage shed, playhouse or similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet.  Please be aware, however, that detached accessory structures must still comply with the minimum zoning setback requirements from property lines.

If you are in doubt as to whether your project needs a permit, call Community Development at (360) 754-4180 before beginning construction.

What if I don’t get a permit?

It is a violation of the Tumwater Municipal Code to begin work before obtaining a permit. In addition to possible fines and penalties, you will be required to obtain permits for the work and it must pass inspection, or you'll be required to return the structure or site to its original condition at your cost, which also requires a permit.

Need help?

For more information or assistance, contact the Community Development Department at (360) 754-4180 or