You’ve completed your business planning, applied for licenses, and selected a location. Now it’s time to transform your space – first securing the necessary permits.
|Permit Type||Required for||Time and Cost|
|Health Dept. Food Service Plan Review||Required for all||You must get Food Service Plan approval ($402-$804) before construction permits will be issued. Note: Later, you will also need an annual food service business permit|
||Master Use Permit must be approved before construction permits; (Conditional Use takes 5-7 months and costs $3,700-$5,000) Construction Permit to Establish Use is usually issued concurrent with other construction permits|
||Minor interior alterations are issued with 24 hours. Small project initial plan review takes 1-2 weeks. Remodels and new construction permits may take 5-8 weeks. Costs are usually based on project value.|
||Over-the-counter or subject-to-field-inspection permit for small improvements. Plan-reviewed permit for larger projects. Costs are usually based on project value.|
|Sprinklers and Fire Alarms||
||4 to 9 weeks for each cycle of review|
|Sign & Awning Permits||
||Basic fee for signs up to 100 square feet is $120; additional amount for larger sizes.|
||Outdoor seating: Tables & Chairs ($146), Sidewalk Café ($516)|
Public Health-Seattle & King County requires a plan review for all food services operations before opening day. The plan review must be approved before any construction begins to ensure you have the necessary facilities and equipment. Note: Restaurants that have been closed less than 90 days may in certain situations be exempt from plan review. Check with the Food Protection Program to clarify your responsibilities.
- What’s in the Plan? The Guide for Food Service Plan Review provides detailed information about developing and submitting a plan, and about the approval process. In most cases, the Food Protection Program will share the plan with Plumbing Division for plan review and approval.
- What’s in your menu? Permits and fees are based on risk levels determined by the type of food and preparation steps required for your menu, which determines your classification. The more complex the menu and preparation of foods, the higher the risk level, which in turn relates to more frequent inspections:
- Risk Level 1 – one routine inspection per year
- Risk Level 2 – one routine inspection and one educational visit per year
- Risk Level 3 – two routine inspections and one educational visit per year
- We highly recommend that you set up a pre-submittal meeting with the county Food Protection Program before submitting your application. That way, you’ll know your submittal is complete during the plan review process.
Once you’ve secured your location, you can apply for any necessary land use permits.
- Master Use Permit must be applied for before the construction permit application is made.
- Construction Permit to Establish Use can often be completed as part of the construction permit process.
The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections issues permits for new construction and alteration of commercial buildings. In many cases, construction permits can be issued along with trade permits (such as electrical, mechanical, or refrigeration) and with a use permit, if required. A Certificate of Approval from the Department of Neighborhoods is required if your site is a landmark building or in a historic neighborhood.
- Subject-to-Field-Inspection (STFI) Permits are for small, relatively simple projects. Please note that the use of space must be previously established by a previous permit for restaurant use to be considered for a STFI permit. If the commercial space you are looking at requires a change of use, the space would not qualify for a STFI permit.
- Full-Plan Review Construction Permits are for complex projects, such as major additions or new structures. See Seattle Tip 100 – Getting a Multifamily or Commercial Construction Permit. If your construction is valued over $75,000, a licensed design professional (architect or engineer) will have to prepare the plan documentation for you.
- If you propose a substantial renovation or will increase the building’s useful or economic life (as determined by Seattle DCI), you’ll have to meet the Substantial Alterations requirements.
- General construction permitting information for new businesses in Seattle
- Seattle Tip 102 – Small Business – Getting Your Use and Building Permit from DPD
Trade permits are needed for work in specific areas, but usually your licensed contractor will get the permit.
Trade Permits Issued by Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections:
Trade Permits Issued by Public Health-Seattle & King County:
Sprinkler and fire alarm permits are required from the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections when installing or upgrading these systems. (Do you need sprinklers?)
- The Department of Construction and Inspections will route architectural plans and fire sprinkler and fire alarm shop drawings to the Fire Department for review. Each round of review may take up to 4 weeks depending on the complexity of the project. Prior to project completion, the Seattle Fire Department inspects all fire protection systems, including sprinklers, fire alarms, and rangehood fire suppression systems.
- Sprinkler systems may also require permits from King County Plumbing and a Water Availability Certificate or other certification from Seattle Public Utilities (SPU). For new systems, a flow test may be required to ensure sufficient water flow.
Sign or Awning Permits are required from the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections to install, alter, or repair any permanent sign that’s visible from the public right-of-way. You’ll also need a permit to install or alter an awning, even if you’re just covering an existing awning with new fabric.
You may also need the following permits/approvals:
- Electrical Permit from the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections for electric signs.
- Street Use Permit from Seattle Department of Transportation if your sign or awning extends over any public place. This permit processing time ranges from 1 day to 2 weeks depending on the details. You must get your Street Use Permit before applying to the Department of Planning and Development for your Sign Permit.
- Certificate of Approval from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods if your site is a landmark building or in a historic neighborhood.
If you’re planning outdoor seating, in order to install anything that extends into or over public space, or if you temporarily need to use public areas for construction activities, you’ll need a Right-of-Way Permit from the Seattle Department of Transportation.
- Outdoor Seating: Apply for a Table and Chairs Permit or a Sidewalk Café Permit from Seattle Department of Transportation; locations in historic neighborhoods or landmark buildings will also need a Certificate of Approval.
- Street Use Permits are required if you install or place anything that extends into or over any public place (e.g., ventilation ducts, lights, and flower baskets). Permits are issued by the Seattle Department of Transportation and must be renewed annually. Permit processing time is 1 day to 2 weeks, depending on the specifics of the permit.
- Temporary Use of the Right-of-Way Permit may be needed during construction for material storage, scaffolding, or crossing the curb and walkway with heavy equipment.