When Is an Inspection Required?

Inspectors conferring over safety codes, one pointing out something to the other


An inspection is required every time a permit is issued. If you need a permit, then you will need an inspection, whether it is for commercial building, site road development or a homeowner permit.

The four project categories below cover general homeowner types of permits.


Project Categories

The projects listed below are grouped into four general categories:

  1. Accessory Buildings (includes sheds);
  2. Home Improvement and Repair Projects;
  3. Appliance Installations (includes replacements); and
  4. Miscellaneous.

Type of Permit and Symbols

The symbols listed below appear in the permit/plans column to indicate the type of permit required. The symbols denote:

  • B — Building Permit
  • E — Electrical Permit
  • M — Mechanical Permit
  • P — Plumbing and Gasfitting Permit Issued by Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC)
  • G — Grading Permit
  • N — No Permit or Plans Required
  • Y — Plans Required
1. Accessory Buildings Permit Plans
Build shed that is more than 150 square feet B Y
Build storage shed that is 150 square feet or less (only one allowed per lot without permit) N N
Any shed that is attached to a building or carport B Y
Build farm building (on farm property, agricultural use only) E* N

*Electrical and Mechanical Contractors License required to obtain electrical and mechanical trade permits.


2. Home Improvement and Repair Projects Permit Plans
Install exterior siding N N
Replace roof shingles (no structural repair involved) N N
Replace roof sheathing B Y
Panel Interior walls without partitions N N
Put up partitions and finish rec room (electric/plumbing, separate permits required) B Y
Exact window and/or door replacement (no structural alteration) N N
Install prefabricated fireplace B Y
Build masonry chimney for stove B Y
Build masonry fireplace B Y
Construct entrance way/area way into basement B Y
Construct, dig or enlarge a basement under existing dwelling B Y
Driveways and paving B Y
Foundation waterproofing B Y
Build patio less than 500 square feet on grade (no steps; cannot be used to park vehicles) N N
Build above-grade patio B Y
Build patio covers B Y
Replace or install carpeting N N
Painting N N
Replace or install kitchen counter or bathroom counter N N
Replace interior or exterior door N N
Enclose carpet B Y
Build or replace porch or deck B Y
Relocate stairs B Y
Pier B, G Y
Bulkhead B, G Y
Boathouse B Y
Mooring pile B, G Y
Boat lift B Y
Build dormers B Y
Install a hardwood or asphalt tile floor on a subfloor N N
Install kitchen cabinets N N
Replace switch plates N N
Replace electrical wiring E* N
Relocate switches, outlets, lighting fixtures and sub-panels E* N
Relocate service entrance cable or change the size of service E* N
Install smoke detectors (if connected to house wiring) E* N
Replace circuit breakers E* N
Replace kitchen stove exhaust E* N

*Electrical and Mechanical Contractors License required to obtain electrical and mechanical trade permits.


3. Appliance Installations Permit Plans
Install electric air conditioning** E, M* N
Install gas air condition M, P* N
Install heat pump E, M* N
Install well-water pump E* N
Install humidifier E* N
Install boiler (gas, oil, etc.) E, M, P* N
Install portable cooling unit (i.e., window A/C)** N N
Install electronic air cleaner E* N
Install attic fan E* N
Install oil furnace E, M* N
Install gas furnace E, M, P* N
Install electric furnace E* N

*Electrical and Mechanical Contractors License required to obtain electrical and mechanical trade permits.
**Cord and plug connection does not require permit.


4. Miscellaneous Permit Plans
Build retaining walls (over 2 feet high) B Y
Build brick or block privacy wall (over 4 feet high) B Y
Install hot tub/spa/pool B, E* Y
Construct fences (over 4 feet high/6 feet limit) B Y
Install outdoor gas barbeque (if served by Washington Gas Light Co.) P N
Install swimming pool (if connected to WSSC, permit required) B, E* Y
Install solar heating system M, B, E* N
Erect freestanding radio or TV antenna or satellite dish 18 inches or more in diameter B, E* Y
Demolish building (RAZE Permit) B, P** N

*Electrical and Mechanical Contractors License required to obtain electrical and mechanical trade permits.
**Requires disconnect letters from all utility companies.