Getting a construction permit in the District involves different elements based on the scope of your project. Depending on the project, you may be required to get approvals or services from agencies besides DCRA.
What Requires a Permit?
You need permits for the following projects
- New construction and foundations
- Additions, alterations, or repair of existing buildings
- Construction of retaining walls, fences, sheds, garages, or vault construction
- Erection of signs or awnings
- Layout of interior space new or existing commercial buildings (e.g. changing the floor plan of a building from six one-bedroom apartments to three two-bedroom apartments)
Any issued 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.
Unless you are in a historic district, the following work does not require a building permit:
- Brick pointing
- Caulking, patching and plaster repair of non-rated assemblies
- Installation of window screens and storm windows
- Repair in kind of existing fences
- Painting other than fire-retardant paint
- Papering, tiling, carpeting, floor covering, cabinets, countertops and similar finish work
Replacement in kind of one of the items listed hereafter. For the purpose of this section, “replacement in kind,” means replacement with a feature of like material that replicates the existing feature in proportion, appearance, texture, design, detail and dimensions.
- Roofing and coping
- Gutters and downspouts and fascia
- Private sidewalks and driveways
- Nonrated suspended ceiling tile.
- Not more than 160 square feet (14.9 m2) of gypsum board excluding installation of firerated gypsum wall board or shaft liner.
- A single garden storage shed that does not exceed 50 square feet (4.65 m2) in area, is less than 10 feet (3048 mm) in overall height, is an accessory structure to a building of Use Group R-3 or to a building under the jurisdiction of the Residential Code, and is erected on a lot with no other exempted storage shed.
- Prefabricated pools, accessory to a Use Group R-3 occupancy, or accessory to buildings under the jurisdiction of the Residential Code, which are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep, do not exceed 1,000 gallons (3785.41 L), are installed entirely above ground and are not designed or manufactured to be connected to a circulation system.
- Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet (1219 mm) in height, measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, for one and two family dwellings only where the area of land disturbance is less than 50 square feet (4.65 m2).
- Shade cloth structures constructed for nursery or agricultural purposes, not including service systems.
- Swings and other playground equipment accessory to one- and two-family dwellings.
- Movable fixtures, cases, racks, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches (1753 mm) in height.
Your project may require additional permits such as Supplemental Systems Installation (A/C, electric, plumbing, etc.) and Water or Sewer Excavation (pipe installation, water main connections, etc.) *Note: Only licensed DC contractors for the specific trade may apply for these permits.
A public space permit is required to use or install structures on public space—the area between the building or property line and the curb. Many front yards in the District are considered public space. Examples of work that requires public space permits include the following:
- Dumpsters in public space
- Sidewalk construction and repair
- Sidewalk cafes
- Front patios
- Flag poles, planter boxes, retaining walls and fences in public space
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) manages and oversees the use and occupancy of public space. Learn more about public space permits at DDOT's website.
- Addition Alteration Repair Permit
- After Hours Permit
- Alteration & Repair Permit
- Awning Permit
- Capacity Placard Permit
- Christmas Tree Stand Permits
- Demolition Permit
- Excavation Only Permit
- Fence Permit
- Foundation Permit
- Fireworks Stand Permit
- Garage Permit
- Historic Property - Special Permit
- New Building Permit
- Simple Scopes of Work (Post Card Building Permits)
- Retaining Wall Permit
- Raze Permit
- Scaffolding Permit
- Shed Permit
- Sheeting & Shoring Permit
- Sign Permit
- Soil Boring Permit
- Solar Panel
- Special Sign Permit
- Swimming Pool Permit
- Tenant Layout Permit
- Tent Permit
- Tower Crane Permit
- Underground Storage Tank Permit