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FAQ - Permit Process

I want to build a house, where do I start?

Navigating the permitting process is less daunting if you know the basic steps.

  • Click here for a general description of the permitting process.
  • Click here for a Step by Step Guide for Home Builders
  • Click here to view our "Before You Build" publication.

The Building Development Center is here to help you every step of the way. Visit us early and often to get guidance and to ensure that you are following the procedures required for your project. Click here for tips that will help make the permitting process smoother.

Where do I get a permit and which one do I use?

Visit our FAQ page on required permits to find out the types of applications that must be filled out for common projects.  A complete list of applications can be found by clicking here.

How do I submit a permit application? Do I need an appointment?

The Permit Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Click here for the address. Please arrive no later than 3:30 p.m. if submitting an application.  Only complete application packages will be accepted at time of submittal. Application submittal requirements are listed on each application.

What is the cost of a permit?

Please click here for permit fee information.

What is the status of my permit?

To check the status of your permit, you can use our online "Check Permit Status" tool, or call our automated information line.

How long does it take to get a permit?

We will begin to work on your application immediately and in the order received. For a basic residential permit, it can take up to 12 weeks; however, more complicated projects and land-use reviews might take up to a year. To check the status of your permit, you can use our online "Check Permit Status" tool, or call our automated information line.

When is a pre-application meeting required?

Click here to find out when presubmission conferences are required.

Are there time limits for applications?

Yes, an application for a permit will be considered to be "abandoned" after the application is submitted and the applicant fails to take action within 180 days on requests for information made by any Thurston County permit reviewing agency. However Thurston County may grant one or more extensions of 180 days each if the applicant demonstrates that they are working in good faith to address the requests.

How much time do I have once the permit is issued? Will it expire?

Yes, a building permit will expire if the work allowed in the permit is not finished and inspected within 365 days of the date the permit was issued.  Thurston County may extend the permit for one or more extensions of 365 days each, provided the applicant submits a request before the building permit expires.  Click here for the building permit extension request form. An administrative fee will be assessed for all permit extensions.

If you finish a structure after a permit has already expired, and without all the needed inspections, you will need to start the process over again -- ie, apply for a permit and complete an application package as if it were a new project. Please see the following question.

What can I do if I buy property and find out later that a structure on the property was built without permits or all of the inspections were not completed on an issued permit?

Customers with illegally-built structures on property in unincorporated Thurston County may apply for a permit through the Permit Center. The customers need to complete an application package as if they were submitting a new project application. Click here for a bulletin on this issue. Click here for residential application forms.

Depending on the quality of construction, alterations to the structure may be required to comply with county codes. The time period during which the structure was built may be taken into consideration during permit review.

The same process is used when a structure is completed after a permit has expired and without all the needed inspections.

How do I apply for a manufactured home permit?

Click here for information about manufactured homes.

How do I make changes to my plans?

Changes to the approved building plans require building department approval. For changes to plans or technical assistance, a plans examiner can be reached between 8:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at (360) 754-3355 ext 7289. Depending on the complexity of the proposed changes, it may be necessary to provide additional information (drawings, details, specifications, design calculations, etc.) for review. Additional plan review fees may be assessed when you submit changes for review.

Can a building permit be issued prior to the formal issuance of a zoning variance?


Contact Us

Thurston County Building Development Center, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia, WA 98502-6045.
Phone: (360) 786-5490. TTY/TDD call 711 or 1-800-833-6388.  E-mail: permit@co.thurston.wa.us.

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