City launches pilot program for same-day permits

The Bellingham Business Journal

Beginning July 1, certain project applicants will be issued permits over-the-counter the same day applications are turned in as part of a pilot project in the city permit center. The permits, called “Subject-to-Field-Inspection” permits, will be issued for simple, well-defined projects.

“Many jurisdictions use this type of approach,” said Jim Tinner, Bellingham’s building official. “It saves time and money for the customer for simple projects such as repairs, dormers, uncovered decks and non-structural remodels.”

By not requiring plan review, the fees are reduced and the inspectors determine code compliance in the field. Customers do need to know how to build according to the adopted building codes and guidance will be provided as part of the pilot.

The intent of the pilot is to clarify and test which permits work well for issuance over-the-counter by permit technicians. Following a year-long pilot, a permanent program will be developed.

Projects are not eligible for the pilot if they require design review, are located near a critical area such as wetland or within the Lake Whatcom watershed, if they require additional land use permits, or if they require a fire sprinkler or alarm system. Building officials have the authority to determine if a project exceeds the scope of the program.

Contact Jim Tinner with questions at 778-8307 or

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