DC Building Permit Guide
How To Get A DC Building Permit & When You Need One

About DC Building Permits

When do you need a DC building permit? Where do you go to get one? How long does it take and how much does it cost? Homeowners in DC have many questions about the odious DC permitting process. Here’s some DC.gov info to get you started.

What Is a DC Building Permit?

A DC building permit is an authorization to build according to a specific scope of work, including approved plans. You are required by law to get a permit for construction in the District of Columbia. Any modification of permit scope or approved plans must be specifically approved.

What Can You Do With It?

A DC building permit does not give you the authority to build in or occupy public space, remove or prune trees greater than 55” in circumference (18” in diameter) on public or private property & occupy your building after construction (CofO).

When Do You Need a DC Building Permit?

New construction and foundations, additions, alterations or repair of existing buildings, demolition, razes, construction of retaining walls, fences, sheds, garages or vault construction, erection of signs or awnings, changes to layout of interior space for tenants in new or existing commercial buildings (e.g. changing the floor plan of a building from six one-bedroom apartments to three two-bedroom apartments).

How Much Does It Cost?

Consult the list of fees to find out the cost of a DC building permit.

How Long Is The Permit Coverage Period?

Any issued DC building permit will become invalid if the authorized work is not begun within one year after the permit is issued, or if the authorized work is suspended or abandoned for a period of one year, after the date work is begun.

Can I Start Work Now And Get The Permit Later?

No. You will be fined if you start construction before you get a DC building permit or work after it expires. Work must be inspected on completion for the final approval to be issued.

When You Don’t Need A DC Building Permit

Unless you are in a historic district, the following work does not require a DC building permit: Brick pointing caulking, patching, and plaster repair, installation of cabinets and architectural millwork, installation of window screens and storm windows, repair of existing fences with ‘like’ materials, retaining walls 18″ (0.46m) or less in height, construction of garden storage sheds complying with DC Code Section 105.2.6, painting (but not painting with fire-retardant paint), replacement of non-rated windows & doors, siding, gutters & downspouts, private sidewalks & driveways, patios, non-rated suspended ceiling tile, floor coverings up to 160 SF (9.3m) of gypsum board,  duct work of up to 10 linear feet (3.05m) in non-hazardous and commercial kitchen exhaust systems. Information on permits in historic districts

Tell Me About The Permit Application Process

Apply for your permit at 1100 4th Street SW, Second Floor. Most permits require the following forms: Building Permit Online Application Environmental Intake Form Contract Agreement DDOE Environmental Questionnaire Lead Hazard Control Form for existing buildings built before 1978 (available in package below) Reasonable Accommodations FormZoning Data Summary Form Complete Building Permit Application Package You can check the status of your permit online. You’ll see which disciplines (electrical, structural) have reviewed your plans to date. Please note: You may be able to view comments about your project online, but you won’t be able to pick up your plans until all required disciplines have reviewed them. View the building permit application requirements to see all the supporting documentation required for your particular permit. Depending on the type of permit a plat from the Office of the Surveyor may be required. A plat is a scaled drawing of a lot, showing the lot lines and record dimensions. It must show all existing and proposed structures, drawn to scale. Plats are required for all exterior work. You can get a plat of your property at the Office of the Surveyor. Once you get the plat, you must draw the structures on the document before you submit it with your building permit application. To order a plat online, please read Get a Building Plat.

DCRA Links

Visit DCRA In Person

Office Hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and Thursday 9:30 am to 4:30 pm 1100 4th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024 Phone: (202) 442-4400 Fax: (202) 442-9445 TTY: (202) 123-4567 Email:dcra@dc.gov


Serving the neighborhoods of Northwest DC, Northeast DC, Southeast DC and Southwest DC including Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, Crestwood, Capitol Hill, H Street, Kalorama, Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights, Georgetown, West End, Burleith, Foggy Bottom, Shaw, LeDroit Park, Bloomingdale, U Street, Penn Quarter, Mt. Vernon Triangle, Palisades, Chevy Chase, Friendship Heights, Barnaby Woods, American University Park, Observatory Circle, Forest Hills, Woodley Park, FoxHall, 14th Street Corridor, U Street Corridor, Meridian Hill, Hill East, Barracks Row, Eastern Market and portions of Northern Virginia including Arlington, Alexandria, McLean, Great Falls, Fairfax, Vienna and Falls Church.
Realtors are not CPAs or attorneys and are not permitted to give accounting, investment, tax or legal advice. Refer to a CPA, investment professional or legal professional for all related matters. Any information provided on this site pertaining to such issues is not intended as tax or legal advice and is provided solely for the purpose of illustration. Resources cited are believed to be accurate but are not guaranteed and are subject to change without notice.