Building permits may be issued for single-family nonstructural work that does not increase the area or height of an existing building (BT). These projects usually do not require plan review and the permit can be issued the same day.
Projects that require the removal or relocation of bearing walls or structural members, increase the loading on walls, beams or footings, or create an accessory dwelling unit are considered outside the scope of a BT permit.
Apply for this permit online at MyBuildingPermit. When entering your Application Information, choose the following:
- Application type: Building
- Project type: Single Family Residential or Single Family Condominium Unit
- Activity type: Remodel
- Scope of work: Residence
Examples of Projects that Qualify
- Converting an unfinished basement into living or sleeping space(s)
- Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom
- Removing, relocating or installing non-bearing walls
- Repairing an existing deck or porch guardrail, handrail, stairs or deck boards. Note: repairing framing members, such as joists or beams, requires plan review.
- Non-structural remodel of a privately owned condominium unit. Note: Initial construction requires plan review.
- Roof replacement or re-roofing where roof sheathing is replaced or altered. Note: if the weight of the new roofing material (clay, slate, etc.) is greater than what was existing, plan review may be required.
Inspections are Required
If it is determined that your project qualifies for a permit with no plan review, please be aware that inspections are required:
- before starting any work – to discuss the project and code issues, a pre-construction meeting is required.
- before any concrete is poured.
- before any framing or insulation is covered.
- after the work is completed.
Plans May be Required
If the field inspector determines that your project exceeds the scope of a BT permit, you will be required to submit plans for review. Plan review may involve a three-week turnaround time and a plan review fee will be accessed.
International Residential Code Requirements
All new construction must comply with current building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, energy and indoor air quality codes. Listed below are some of the most commonly identified code issues that occur in over-the-counter permitted construction. For more information, refer to Guidelines and Tip Sheets at MyBuildingPermit.com. This list is not intended to address every code requirement that may arise with your project.
Since you are responsible for correcting any nonconforming work, it is important that you take the time to read about code requirements and arrange for a preconstruction meeting with a building inspector before beginning construction.
Ventilation and Natural Light
- Exhaust fans which are vented to the exterior of the building must be provided in all remodeled or newly constructed laundry areas (minimum 50 cfm), bathrooms (minimum 50 cfm) and kitchens (100 cfm), per IRC M1507.4.
- Habitable rooms (not including bathrooms, closets, hallways or storage areas) must be provided with natural light by glazed openings not less than eight percent of the floor area (IRC R303.1). Ventilation for habitable rooms must be provided per IRC section M1507.
- Safety Glazing adjacent to doors is required in the following locations if the bottom edge of the glazing is less than 60 inches above the walking surface:
- Within 24 inches of either side of the door if glazing is in the same plane as the door
- Within 24 inches on the hinge side of an inswing door if glazing is in a wall perpendicular to the door (IRC R308.4.2).
- Glazing within 36 inches of the walking surface horizontally and less than 36 inches above the walking surface of stairs and ramps is required to be safety glazing (IRC R308.4.6).
All sleeping rooms must have an emergency egress window or door that leads directly to a yard or public way (IRC R310.1).
- Emergency egress windows must provide a minimum clear openable area of 5.7 square feet, 24 inches high and 20 inches wide.
- Emergency egress windows must have a maximum finished sill height of 44 inches above the floor.
- No openings are allowed between a sleeping room and a garage (IRC R302.5.1)
A smoke alarm must be located in every sleeping room and a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm must be located outside of and in the immediate vicinity of each sleeping area (IRC R314 and R315)
Stairways and Handrails
Dimensional requirements for stairways, per IRC R311.7:
- Maximum riser height of 7¾ inches and minimum tread depth of 10 inches with a minimum 36-inch stair width.
- Minimum headroom clearance of 6 feet, 8 inches.
- Graspable handrails must be 34 to 38 inches above the tread nosing with a cross sectional dimension of 1¼ to 2 inches.
- Handrail ends are to be returned to the wall or end in newel posts or safety terminals.
Guardrails are required at decks or any open-sided walking surfaces that are more than 30 inches above grade at any point within 36 inches horizontally from the open edge (IRC R312.1).
- Guardrails must be a minimum of 36 inches in height.
- Rails are to be spaced so that a 4-inch diameter sphere cannot pass through.
State Energy Code
Walls, ceilings and floors of heated spaces must be properly insulated and glazed to minimize heat loss. Exterior walls, ceilings with unheated space above and concrete slab edges must be insulated. All new glazing must be double-paned glass with a minimum U-value based on the energy design option chosen. Contact the building desk in Development Services (425-452-4121) for requirements specific to your project. See the WSU Energy Program website for more details about energy efficiency.
- Water closets (toilets) must be located in a space with a minimum clearance of 15 inches on each side from the center line of the fixture, and must have a minimum 21 inches of clear space in front of the fixture (IRC R307.1).
- Newly installed water closets must be designed to conform to the requirements of the Washington State Water Conservation Act.
- Wood placed in contact with concrete must be pressure-treated or naturally durable lumber (IRC R317).
- Water heaters and other appliances designed to be in a fixed position must be provided with seismic straps. Straps must be a minimum of ¾ inch wide and made of at least 22-gauge metal. There must be one strap in the upper and lower 1/3 of the tank height, with a minimum 4-inch clearance above the controls (IRC M1307.2).
- Water heaters and other appliances in a garage must be raised so that the source of ignition is a minimum of 18 inches above the floor unless the appliance is listed as flammable vapor ignition resistant (IRC M1307.3).
- Water heaters and other appliances installed in a location subject to vehicle damage must be protected by an approved barrier (IRC M1307.3.1).