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FAQs - Development Services - Building & Planning
Building Permit and Process

Q: Do I need a building permit to re-roof a single family home?

A: Whether a permit is required or not depends upon the scope of the work. If you are replacing roofing material in kind (i.e. shingle to shingle, asphalt to asphalt), then a permit is not needed. If you are replacing the roof sheathing, you will need a permit. You will also need a permit if you are changing roofing material or changing the structure of the roofline in any way. Note: Permits are required for the re-roof of multi-family homes and commercial property.


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Q: Do I need a building permit to build a shed?

A: Permits are not required for one story detached accessory structures used as a tool and storage sheds, playshouses, and similar uses not exceeding 200 square feet; however, all zoning requirements must still be met.


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Q: Is it okay to build within the setbacks of my property?

A: No, in most cases nothing may be constructed within a setback. Platforms, walks, driveways not greater than 30¡± in height may be constructed in yard setbacks. There are some setback areas that you cannot build anything in. Please call the Development Services Group at (206) 275-7605 prior to construction.


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Q: When do I need a building permit?

A: Most improvements on a residential or commercial lot require a permit. See Permits (when required) for items that do not require a building permit. Unless otherwise exempted, separate plumbing, electrical, and mechanical permits may be required for the exempted items. If in doubt about any improvement, call the City of Mercer Island Building Department at (206) 275-7605.


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Q: How long does it take to get a permit?

A: The permit process can take anywhere from minutes to several weeks depending on the type of permit and the corresponding issues. Additionally, several factors such as completeness and clarity of plans can affect the process time lines of obtaining a permit. Turn-around times on permit applications are establsihed due to workload, not as a result of process. Click here to be redirected to our Target Times page to see projected timeframes.



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Q: What uniform codes do you use?

A: 

Click here for the link to our "Codes and Design Criteria" page that shows the codes adopted and amended by the State of Washington and the City of Mercer Island.



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Q: How can I get a copy of a permit and/or building plans?

A: Permit history can be viewed online at MyBuildingPermit.com or a copy of a permit may be obtained at the Building Department upon request at no additional cost. A copy of building plans requires a copy fee. Plans are sent to an outside vendor for copying, thereby keeping the cost down for the customer.


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Q: How much do building permits and plan review cost?

A: A plan review fee is collected at the time of plan submittal. A building permit fee is collected at the time of permit issuance. The fee is based upon the value of the project.  Click here to link to our latest Permit Fee information.


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Q: Can I pay by credit card?

A: Payment may be made by VISA or MasterCard, checks or cash. Credit card payment is limited to simple, over the counter permit types only.  Perits requiring plan review must be paid by check or cash.  For more information, see our Permit Types page.


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Q: Do I need a building permit to build a deck?

A: Yes, when the walking surface is greater than 30 inches above grade measured within 5 ft. of the deck. If less than 30 inches, no building permit is required; however, restrictions related to setbacks, easements, and impervious surface issues do apply.


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Q: Do I need a permit to build a rockery?

A: Yes, a permit is required for a rockery more than 4' in height (measured from the bottom of the lowest rock to the top of the highest rock), or if the rockery is supporting a surcharge (from a slope steeper than 2 horizontal to 1 vertical, or a footing, etc.). Regardless of permit requirement, a rockery supporting a fill greater than 30" above existing grade cannot be located within a setback yard.


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Q: Do I need a permit to demolish a building?

A: Yes. The adopted Building Code states that “No building or structure regulated by this code shall be erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished unless a separate permit for each building or structure has first been obtained from the building official."


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Q: Do I need a plot plan for my property if I am doing a remodel?

A: If there is an existing nonconforming structure a plot plan may be required.


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Q: Do I need to upsize my water meter when I do a remodel?

A: If you add any additional plumbing fixtures, you must calculate your water meter requirements using the Plumbing Residential Workup sheet. If this indicates a need for a meter upsize, you may, as an alternative, submit a hydraulic analysis by a qualified licensed plumbing designer or engineer that verifies the adequacy of the existing meter for the new fixtures.


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Q: When do I need a survey?

A: 

Click here to see when a survey is required.



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Q: Where can I find information about my lot?

A: The City of Mercer Island has a street file for most building lots on the Island. This is public information, however if you wish verification of lot size, lot lines, setbacks, etc., you will need to contract with a surveyor. We also recommend that you also review your County assessor information and title report for any easements or private covenants that might restrict development on your lot.  Please see our Mercer Island G.I.S maps page.


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Q: What is a legal nonconforming structure?

A: A nonconforming struction is a structure lawfully in existence on the effective date of the Unfied Land Development Code, or at the time of any amendment thereto, which does not conform to the regulations of the zone in which such structure is located.


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Q: When is an intake screening required when submitting for a permit?

A: The City of Mercer Island requires an Intake Screening Meeting for the following building projects: all new commercial projects, major tenant improvements, all new single family residences, or any development that creates additional impervious surface in excess of 500 square feet, or footprint increase greater than 500 square feet or in a critical area.

Intake Screening Meetings are held once a week on Tuesdays, each 55-minute appointment is for a single site only.


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Q: Does the City have assessor maps that will show my property lines?

A: We have some assessor maps here for your review and they may or may not accurately show property lines. For accurate property line descriptions, you will need to obtain a survey.


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