Getting started with the permit process
The permit process in unincorporated King County varies depending on the size and complexity of a project and also according to the zoning on the property.
It is important to the Permitting Department to make the permit process as easy-to-understand as possible, especially for first time and one-time-only permit customers. Described below are a variety of mechanisms the Permitting Department offers to help customers with the permit process.
Free sources of customer information
Check jurisdiction and zoning first. The Permitting Department's jurisdiction is unincorporated King County and the Permitting Department issues new permits only for property in unincorporated King County. For property within city limits (external link), you must contact the city for building and land use permits, not the Permitting Department. For example, for property inside Seattle city limits, contact Seattle (external link). Find out how to check jurisdiction and zoning, as both affect the permit process.
Customer information bulletins. The Permitting Department's customer information bulletins are designed to provide user-friendly overviews and background information on a wide range of building and land use topics. For example, bulletin 12, Residential building permit process (PDF*, 211KB), provides an overview of the residential process and bulletin 8, Commercial and multi-family building permits (PDF*, 188KB), an overview of the commercial process.
FAQ. Answers to frequently asked questions about land use and permitting issues in unincorporated King County are available at FAQ.
Property research. Use online property research tools to find zoning (allowed use), district (fire, school, water, etc.), planning (applying the King County Comprehensive Plan to specific parcels) and Assessor (property description and valuation data) information on property. Look up property using an address, parcel number or street intersection.
Permit information. Permits available for unincorporated King County are listed at types of permits. Forms and application materials are conveniently grouped into packets according to permit type, and forms also are listed individually. See permit fees for cost information. To look up past or current permits processed by the Permitting Department, go to the online permit search.
Permitting Department staff assistance. The Permitting Department's permit center offers a full range of technical support to customers. Go to the Permitting Department in Snoqualmie to sign up for walk-in assistance, or call the Permitting Department's customer service line at 206-296-6600 for basic information about the Permitting Department or the permit application submittal process, to request application materials, or to be directed to a particular staff member or review discipline.
Customized property research and analysis
If a prospective permit applicant is planning a complicated development, or if the applicant simply has never been through the permit process before, paying a relatively small fee up front for detailed research and analysis can save a great deal of time and money down the road in plan changes and mitigation fees.
Voluntary pre-application meeting. A voluntary pre-application meeting is an opportunity to meet directly with a Permitting Department technical specialist(s) and discuss your proposed project. They are designed to outline permit requirements and assess major site issues for a proposal in order to prepare the applicant for the permit intake and review process. The Permitting Department charges its standard hourly rate per staff person for this service. See pre-applications for more information about pre-application meetings for building permits and for land use permits as well as application forms.
Critical Area Designations. The Critical Areas Designation allows the Permitting Department to designate the presence, type, and location of critical areas on a property at the beginning of the review process. Customers looking to develop or sell property are encouraged to take advantage of this designation process which can save a property owner unanticipated expense in advance of preparing detailed construction plans. The designation is assessed at the Permitting Department's standard hourly rate. For more information, see critical areas designation.
Preferred consultant program. The Permitting Department's preferred consultant program offers permit customers the option of choosing a consultant from lists the Permitting Department maintains of individuals with a proven track record of high quality work in King County. The Permitting Department developed this program to make the permitting process more efficient and less costly. For more information, see preferred consultants.
*Note: To view PDFs, free software from Adobe is required. Windows Media requires Windows Media Player. For assistance, see helpful hints.
To request this information in alternate formats for people with disabilities, call 206-296-6600 or TTY Relay: 711.