Do I need a building permit?

Any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by adopted codes, or to cause such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit. INTERNATIONAL RESIDENTIAL CODE SECTION 105, TITLED PERMITS Section R105.1 Required.

Do you have different forms for different permits?

We have one form for residential and one form for business.  Other than that distinction, most kinds of permits (mechanical, building, plumbing, etc.) use that same form.

What work is exempt from needing a permit?

A building permit shall not be required for the following:

1. One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet (11 m2) for commercial uses or 200 square feet (18.58 m2) for residential uses.
2. Oil derricks.
3. Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet (1219 mm) in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II or IlIA liquids.
4. Water tanks supported directly on grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons (18 925 L) and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2:1.
5. Sidewalks and driveways not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above adjacent grade, and not over any basement or story below and are not part of an accessible route.
6. Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work.
7. Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.
8. Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R-3 occupancy that are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep, do not exceed 5,000 gallons (18 925 L) and are installed entirely above ground.
9. Shade cloth structures constructed for nursery or agricultural purposes, not including service systems.
10. Swings and other playground equipment accessory to detached one- and two-family dwellings.
11. Window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches (1372 mm) from the exterior wall and do not require additional support of Groups R-3 and U occupancies.
12. Nonfixed and movable fixtures, cases, racks, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches (1753 mm) in height.  SECTION 105.2 

Do I need a permit for a fence?

Yes, any fence of any height needs a fence permit.  Fences that exceed 6′ in height also need a building permit.  Click to a fence permit form

What if I’m working with electrical systems?

Electrical systems are regulated by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.  All work is permitted and inspected by that agency.

Do I need a building permit to reroof a building?

Yes, except for minor repairs.

What if my project is not listed?

If your project is not listed as an exception in Section 106.2, you need to obtain the proper permits from the City of Sumner. First, make sure your project complies with city regulations.

How do I know if my project complies with City regulations?

Come visit the Permit Center.  First, we need to know in which zone your property is located.  Click here to look at a zone map, or ask for someone from Community Development to assist you at the Permit Center.  Once we know what zone your property is in, then we can check if your proposed project complies with the regulations for that zone.

What can I do if my project does not comply with the zoning regulations?

The easiest option is usually to modify your project to fit the zoning regulations.  However, you can challenge the zoning of your area by applying for a rezone. To understand all your options, contact the Community Development Department to discuss your options.

What do I do when my project does comply with the zoning regulations?

If the proposed project complies with the zoning regulations of the property, the next step is to understand the basic zoning restrictions that affect your project.

What are the zoning restrictions for my property?

The restrictions vary depending on the zoning regulations. We recommend you consult the Community Development Department to determine any restrictions your property may have. Print the following worksheet as a guide for the questions you should ask to find out the restrictions you will have on your property:

What are the required yards (setbacks from property lines) for your project?
Front Yard:
Side Yard:
Street Side Yard:
Rear Yard:

What other zoning restrictions will affect my proposal?

Will I have to put in a sidewalk to get my permit?

Section 12.20.040 of the Sumner Municipal Code specifies that all property improved by new construction within the city shall have sidewalks (Includes any and all improvements in the space between the street pavement edge and the property line, including driveways, curbs, gutters and sidewalks) in and completed, for the full width of the property being developed, before the buildings are occupied.  Corner lots shall have sidewalks for the full width and length of the property on all sides that abut the street.

For the purposes of this section, property improved by new construction shall be defined as any improvement requiring a building permit, except:
1.    Those which do not increase the habitable space of a residence as defined by the International Building Code in effect at said time
2.    Accessory structures less than 200 square feet
3.    Re-roofing work

Also, under the following conditions a property owner may be allowed to enter into an agreement with the city for the construction of sidewalks, curbs and gutters at a later date:
1.    Where the street is undersigned
2.    Where no sidewalks, curbs and gutters exist
3.    Where the absence of a storm drainage system would cause standing water and a health safety problem

What do I do once I understand the restrictions on my property and project?

When you have verified that your project complies with the zoning regulations, and you are aware of any restrictions or improvements to your property, the next step is to obtain a building permit. You must contact the Permit Center in order to determine any fees or submittal requirements and obtain the proper forms that must be completed for issuance of a building permit.

Does my permit expire?

All permits are non-transferable and will expire 180 days from issuance and the date of the last approved inspection

When can I turn in my permit application?

Permit applications must be submitted prior to 4:30pm of the business day. This will allow staff enough time to process the application request. If an application is submitted after this time, it will be processed the following business day.

Do I have to include a site plan if I am just doing an addition or alteration to my house?

All additions, alterations, and new construction applications must include a site plan. For additions and alterations the site plan does not need to be as complex as for new construction.

How do I get more information?

Continue to look through the online Permit Center for more information and forms and applications.  However, the online center is designed to give you an idea, not replace a visit to the City Hall Permit Center.  An in-person visit can help you best understand the process and materials you will need to submit.

The Permit Center is located on the second floor of City Hall and is open during normal business hours (Monday through Friday 8 am-5 pm).

Contact Us

Allison Judge
Permit Specialist

To schedule inspections, please call the 24-hour inspection line at 253 299-5530.

For more information on code issues, please contact the Building Official:

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