Note: West Coast Decks, referenced in this article, closed in 2022.

Dunn Lumber partnered with professional deck builder and Northwest regional expert Ron Spillers, from West Coast Decks, and created a series of videos that cover a series of decking questions. 

In this post, Ron explains why homeowners need building permits when building decks. For more in this series, click here.

Who Needs a Building Permit?

Are you thinking about building a deck and wondering if you need a building permit? Here are some guidelines: Is your deck 30 or more inches off the ground? You need a permit. Does it exceed a certain size? You need a permit.

Still not sure if you need a permit? Chances are, you do—and you definitely don't want to spend a lot of time building your deck just to find out that it should have been permitted from the beginning.

The easiest way to find our requirements is to contact your local building department (you can easily find their website by doing a web search for your county and "building department," but we've included links to a few local ones below.) They'll let you know if you need a permit, what type you need, how to submit it, and any fees associated with obtaining the permit.

  • Click here for the King County Building Department website.
  • Click here for the Snohomish County Building Department website.
  • Click here for the Pierce County Building Department website.

Code requirements for decks are far more strict these days than they used to be. Working with a professional to navigate the permit application process can save a lot of time and unnecessary grief.

A designer or architect can help you visualize your deck. They can then create the plans necessary for the permit and apply for the permit on your behalf. If you hire a professional deck contractor they will come take a look at the project, discuss your wants and needs, create a preliminary design and estimate, and submit permit drawings for you. (Expect to pay around $75 plus any associated fees for the permit.

Why Is a Building Permit Important?

The permitting process ensures decks and other structures are built correctly—for everyone's safety. In addition, if you ever sell your home permit documentation is very important in that process to provide proof that any renovations were performed up to code standards. A homeowner is required by law to disclose any work done on your home without permits.

Have any questions or suggestions about this post? Comment below to hear from our experts. Or, if you're ready to make an appointment with a Dunn Lumber decking expert, visit this link.