Snohomish County Online Government Information & Services

PDS switchboard staff compiled a list of the most common questions they receive.  Click the desired question to view the answer or browse up and down the page by using the scroll bar to the right.
1.  How do I find out the zoning of my property?
2.  Which zones allow for a certain use?
3.  Which properties are considered a legal building lot?
4.  Does this property have critical areas like steep slopes, Native Growth Protection Areas, wetlands, streams, lakes, rivers, and geological hazards?
5.  What can I do in a Native Growth Protection Area (NGPA)?
6.  What do I do about a dangerous tree in a greenbelt or Native Growth Protection Area?
7.  What are the dimensions and square footage of this property?
8.  Where are my property lines?
9.  Who is the owner of this piece of property?
10.  How do I find out what the parcel number (AKA tax account number) is for a piece of raw land that has no address?
11.  Do you have drawings of where my water and sewer lines connect to my house?
12.  Is sewer coming to my area?
13.  What are the setbacks for a well, septic system, and/or drainfield?
14.  What types of projects do not require a permit?
15.  How much is a permit going to cost?
16.  Where do I get an electrical permit?
17.  Can I store a mobile home on my property?
18.  What do I do if I want to move a house to a new location?
19.  How do I find out if a structure had a permit?
20.  Can I run a business from my residence?
21.  If I buy a piece of property and find out that the previous owner did not get permits for work that was done, what do I do?
22.  What do I do if I have a noise complaint about a construction site?
23.  What are the setbacks for this piece of property?
24.  I want to put up a fence. What are the rules?
25.  Is there ever a situation where you cannot develop a piece of property?
26.  What is the definition of my zoning classification?
27 What is the status of my permit?
28.  I noticed some kind of development going on at a certain piece of property. What is taking place?
29.  Is my property subdividable?
30.  Can I have two dwellings on one lot?
31.  What type of stream is on this property?
32.  Do I need a permit to cut down trees on my property?
33.  Is this property in a flood zone?
34.  What should I do if I am having a dispute with a neighbor over a property line or their vegetation encroaching into my property?
35.  Where can I get aerial photos of properties in Snohomish County?
36.  Do you have the plans of my house on file there?
37.  Do you have a drawing of how my house sits on the property?
38.  Who is the sewer and/or water purveyor for this property?
39.  Where is my septic tank located?
40.  Do I need to have a perc test done to get a permit?
41.  How do I get a permit?
42.  How long does it take to get a permit?
43.  Do I need a permit to replace my mobile home with a new one?
44.  Can I live in a travel trailer?
45.  Is there a special permit needed to move a house, accessory building, or mobile home on a county road?
46.  How do I make a structure that was built without a permit "legal"?
47.  Can I raise and have chickens, turkeys, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits and similar small animals on my property?
48.  Can I have horses on my property?
49.  Who do I contact about asbestos removal?
50.  Why do I have to provide a notarized copy of a contractor's card if I am using a contractor?
51.  How do I get someone from the county to come out and look at a piece of property that appears to have a code violation?

1.  How do I find out the zoning of my property?      back  to top

Snohomish County Planning and Development Services can provide zoning information for all unincorporated areas of Snohomish County. ("Unincorporated" means that the property is NOT within the boundaries of a city.)  For information about properties in incorporated areas, contact the appropriate jurisdiction.

For County zoning information, visit our office on the 5th floor of the County Administration building in downtown Everett at 3000 Rockefeller Avenue, or call our office at 425-388-3311. The phone receptionist will take a message for the Permit & Zoning Counter staff. A complete address or a tax account number (parcel number) will be needed to research zoning information. Due to the number of inquiries we receive, it may take 24 to 48 hours to respond. The call back time may be longer during our busy summer season.

In addition, color-coded zoning maps are available to view on-line on the PDS website. These maps may be difficult to interpret, however, due to their scale and complexity. Hard copies of the maps are available for purchase at the Cashier Station at the PDS offices. See Map and GIS Data Products for details.

2.  Which zones allow for a certain use?                 back  to top

Chapter 30.22 of the Snohomish County Code (SCC) contains a use matrix. This chart lists use categories and whether those uses are permitted in certain zones, allowed as a conditional use permit in certain zones, or prohibited.     SCC Title 30 (also known as the Unified Development Code), which took effect February 1, 2003,  replaced a number of code titles relating to land development. 
Unified Development Code:   See Snohomish County Code Title 30

3.  Which properties are considered a legal building lot?

Generally, if the piece of property is an established lot within an approved plat or short plat, that lot is considered a legally created lot. Development of a lot is subject to compliance with applicable building codes and land development ordinances. If a parcel is not a platted or short platted lot, the parcel will need to obtain lot status certification. For questions on lot status certification, we recommend you visit our Permit and Zoning Counter staff on the 5th floor of the county administration building at 3000 Rockefeller Avenue in Everett.  Please review "Legal" Building Lots - Bulletin #24 (pdf) for information on how to get lot status certification.

4.  Does this property have critical areas like steep slopes, Native Growth Protection Areas, wetlands, streams, lakes, rivers, and geological hazards?                                                                     back  to top

We will have the information available if the property is a lot within a plat or short plat, where the plat and short plat maps have identified these areas. Or, if the lot has been developed previously with a dwelling and these features were identified as part of the plan review process for the building permit, then we will have this information. Most lots created by plat or short plat prior to 1995 do not contain this information.

Snohomish County offers a "Pre-Application Conference". This is recommended for raw pieces of land that have streams, wet areas, or other conditions that may cause potential site-related development issues. The process may involve a staff biologist, a site reviewer, or a drainage reviewer who will visit the site and review it for potential development issues. A meeting is then held here in our office to go over the findings of their reviews.   Visit our Applications Packets page for Pre-application information and request form. 

5.  What can I do in a Native Growth Protection Area (NGPA)?                                                   back  to top

Generally, NGPA's specifically state that no clearing, grading or construction of any kind can occur in these areas. Passive recreational activities that don't disturb the vegetation or soils are not a problem. However, there are exceptions to these restrictions. In order to determine what is allowed in any individual NGPA, it's necessary to review the recorded restrictions on file with PDS.
SCC 30.62

6.  What do I do about a dangerous tree in a greenbelt or Native Growth Protection Area?

Dangerous trees can be removed from an Native Growth Protection Area (NGPA) with county approval. The dangerous tree could be in an easement or NGPA area of your property OR the tree may be on an NGPA tract owned by the homeowner’s association. It is important for you to identify who owns the property with the dangerous tree on it before you contact PDS. Please contact the building official by letter describing the dangerous situation. If the tree is down or in immediate danger of falling, please call 425-388-3311.

7.  What are the dimensions and square footage of this property?                                                      back  to top

Newer plats and short plats have the dimensions and square footage of each lot on the face of the recorded plat map. You can visit www.co.snohomish.wa.us/auditor to see if the recorded plat map is available, or you can call or visit our office. If your property is not part of a plat or short plat, then this information may not be available, and you may need to contact a surveyor.

8.  Where are my property lines?                             back  to top

To have the property lines physically established or located on the ground you will need to contact a surveyor. Snohomish County does not provide surveying services.

9.  Who is the owner of this piece of property?        back  to top

The Snohomish County Assessor's office has ownership information. Please visit www.co.snohomish.wa.us/assessor or call 425-388-3433.

10.  How do I find out what the parcel number (AKA tax account number) is for a piece of raw land that has no address?                                                back  to top

Visit the Snohomish County Assessor's website at www.co.snohomish.wa.us/assessor or call their office at 425-388-3433 from 9:00 - 5:00, Monday through Friday.

11.  Do you have drawings of where my water and sewer lines connect to my house?                                  back  to top

This information is available from your water and sewer purveyor. We have limited information in the plat construction file for lots created in a plat or short plat process after 1995.  PDS maintains a list of Water and Sewer Purveyors (pdf) but does not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of the information.

12.  Is sewer coming to my area?                              back  to top

Snohomish County does not operate sewer and water systems. Please contact the sewer district of your area.  PDS maintains a list of Water and Sewer Purveyors (pdf) but does not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of the information.

13.  What are the setbacks for a well, septic system, and/or drainfield?

Please contact the Snohomish Health District             back  to top

3020 Rucker, Everett, WA 98201
425-339-5250
www.snohd.org

14.  What types of projects do not require a permit?

Generally, where the fair market value (materials and labor) of the work does not exceed $2,000, a permit is not required. One-story storage type buildings that do not exceed 120 square feet in building area (wall to wall) and carports with two or more sides open that do not exceed 200 square feet do not require a building permit.  Additional Permit Exemption Information

15.  How much is a permit going to cost?                 back  to top

It varies. The cost of the permit is based on the valuation of the structure. Therefore, the larger the structure, the higher the plan review and permit fees. The actual cost is determined at the time the building permit application is submitted when a detailed review of the project is made. To get a general idea of the approximate cost, we can mail, fax, or e-mail you our fee information bulletin. Or view information at the following links: 
    Residential Building Permit Fees Bulletin #18 (pdf)
    Building Permit Fees (2003) (pdf)

16.  Where do I get an electrical permit?                 back  to top

Snohomish County Planning & Development does not issue electrical permits.

Please contact the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries

729 100th Street SE, Everett WA 98208
425-290-1309
www.lni.wa.gov

17.  Can I store a mobile home on my property?     back  to top

This can be a complex question. Residential zones only allow one residential dwelling unit per lot. If you are replacing an existing mobile home with another dwelling (stick-frame built or another mobile home) the existing mobile must be removed from the property thirty days after the final inspection of the new dwelling. The existing dwelling could possibly be converted to a guest house by removing the kitchen facilities. A conversion to a storage building might be possible if the unit was manufactured prior to 1976. In the event that a property owner owns a vacant lot and wants to "store" a mobile home on their property, it is not permitted unless a mobile home permit is obtained meeting all mobile home standards and requirements.

18.  What do I do if I want to move a house to a new location?

An inspection report is required for a code check of the house and the building permit. An inspection report application along with $120 will be collected. Inspection requests called in before 3:00 pm will receive an inspection the next work day.
Inspection Report Application Packet is on-line.  (pdf)

19.  How do I find out if a structure had a permit?  back  to top

For properties in unincorporated (outside of all city limits) Snohomish County ONLY, please call our office at 425-388-3311 or you may directly contact our file room at 425-388-3622. 

20.  Can I run a business from my residence?        back  to top

Home occupations are permitted in the residential zones of Snohomish County provided they meet the strict criteria outlined in the county zoning code. In the urban zones, the business must be operated from within the dwelling and not in the garage or other detached buildings. In the rural zones, it is possible to operate the business from a detached building.  If you have further questions you may want to visit our office at 3000 Rockefeller, 5th floor, Administration Building, Everett.

21.  If I buy a piece of property and find out that the previous owner did not get permits for work that was done, what do I do?                                                            back  to top

You, now being the current owner, are responsible for obtaining the proper permits and having the work inspected. Contact PDS at our office in downtown Everett to determine what permits and inspections will be necessary

22.  What do I do if I have a noise complaint about a construction site?

If it is regarding a plat (a subdivision of homes being built), the project manager will need to be contacted in order for an inspector to visit the site of the noise complaint. If "Proposed Land Use Action" signs are posted, the project manager's name and extension will be available on the sign. If no sign is posted, we will need an exact address or a tax account number to assist you. For single-family projects, we will need the address or tax account number as well. If you are not sure what the address or tax account number is, please visit the assessor's website or call their office at 425-388-3433 Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

23.  What are the setbacks for this piece of property?      back  to top

This can be a difficult question. Setbacks depend on:

The zone that the property is located in.
The type of building that is being constructed.
Whether or not there are streams and water bodies adjacent to the property.
Other recorded native growth protection areas (NGPA)’s).
Building setback lines (BSBL) or utility and access easements encumbering the property.

General setbacks are outlined in our Residential Building Setbacks - Bulletin #27 (pdf) or you can review  Section 30.23 of the Snohomish County Code which is the part of the code that specifies setback requirements. SCC Title 30 (also known as the Unified Development Code) replaced a number of code titles relating to land development and took effect February 1, 2003. 
Unified Development Code:   See Snohomish County Code Title 30

 
If you have any questions, you may call or visit our office. We will need a complete address or a tax account number (AKA parcel number) in order to assist you.  If you don't know the tax account number, visit the Snohomish County Assessor's website at www.co.snohomish.wa.us/assessor or call their office at 425-388-3433 from 9:00 - 5:00, Monday through Friday.

24.  I want to put up a fence. What are the rules?   back  to top

Fences six (6) feet in height or less do not require a building permit from PDS. However, there are placement restrictions. If you have a corner lot, there are fence height limitations as the fence approaches the corner. See our Fences - Bulletin # 6 (pdf)  for further information.

25.  Is there ever a situation where you cannot develop a piece of property?

Some lots are landlocked and therefore not eligible for building permits. Sometimes soil conditions will not allow the installation of a septic tank and drainfield. There are properties that fall within the hydraulic floodway of a floodplain which cannot be developed. In certain cases, a parcel may not be considered a legal building lot due to illegal subdivision actions. If you believe you have a parcel that cannot be developed, you should visit our office on the 5th floor of the county administration building in downtown Everett, 3000 Rockefeller Avenue and discuss your questions with PDS staff.               back  to top

26.  What is the definition of my zoning classification?

Subtitle 30.2 of the Snohomish County Code contains the County's zoning regulations.  Chapter 30.22 discusses and defines the zoning classifications in unincorporated Snohomish County. Chapter 30.23 defines minimum lot size, maximum lot coverage, and maximum building height per zone.  SCC Title 30 (also known as the Unified Development Code) replaced a number of code titles relating to land development and took effect February 1, 2003. 
Unified Development Code:   See Snohomish County Code Title 30
Hard copies of Subtitle 30.2 are available in our office. If you have questions, please visit or call our office.   List of Snohomish County's zoning classifications.

27.  What is the status of my permit?

You may visit PDS' On-Line Permit Info and search for your permit record by permit number, address or tax account number.  Alternatively you may call our office at 425-388-3311 x 2475. You must provide the permit number in order to be helped over the phone.

28.  I noticed some kind of development going on at a certain piece of property. What is taking place?    back  to top

If there is a "Proposed Land Use Action" sign posted on the property, you can obtain the project tracking number and name of the staff member handling the project from the sign.   If there is no sign, determine address or tax account number of the property.  Then call our office or visit PDS' On-Line Permit Info for more information about the project.. If you are not certain of an address or tax account number, visit the assessor's website or call them at 425-388-3433 from 9:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday.   Project files are available for review in our records room which is on the 5th floor of the county administration building. Please call our records room staff at 425-388-3622 ahead of time to make sure the file is available

PDS also offers Building Permit and Land Use Activity Reports.

29.  Is my property subdividable?

This can be a complex question as it depends on the zoning of the property, and other special land development requirements. We recommend that you visit our permit and zoning assistance counter for information on the subdivision processes.

30.  Can I have two dwellings on one lot?                back  to top

Typically you are allowed only one residence per legal building lot. There are provisions for temporary dwellings and accessory apartments. Please check the following bulletins for more information:

Attached Accessory Apartments - Bulletin #13 (pdf)
Detached Accessory Apartments - Bulletin #12 (pdf)
Temporary Dwellings - Bulletin #49 (pdf)

31.  What type of stream is on this property?

Streams are classified by Snohomish County according to a system called Water Typing. Streams are classified into five different Water Types. The Water Types are determined by their physical characteristics, including channel width, gradient, fish use, stream flow and human use. Generally, the larger streams with significant fish use are typed higher (1,2, or 3) and the smaller non-fish bearing streams are the 4's and 5's. In addition, while the water typing system classifies all surface waters (natural and artificial), the county's critical areas regulations only address naturally occurring streams.

I f you have further questions, contact one of the PDS biologists at 425-388-3311.

Critical Area Regulations, SCC 30.62

32.  Do I need a permit to cut down trees on my property?     back  to top

Trees which are located in a Native Growth Protection Area (NGPA), protected by a County approved landscaping plan, or are within a required buffer may not be cut without prior approval from Snohomish County. For more information please contact Snohomish County Planning and Development Services at 425-388-3311

 Properties without the previous restrictions and of less than two acres in size, may remove timber without a Forest Practice Permit. Properties of two acres or larger may harvest up to 5000 board feet of merchantable timber for personal use within any 12 consecutive month period. Per WAC 222-16-050 any merchantable timber sold or traded from properties of 2 acres or larger must obtain a Forest Practice Approval from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). For further information on harvesting timber please call DNR at 360-856-3500.

33.  Is this property in a flood zone?                        back  to top

The Federal Emergency Management Agency determines what areas are in flood zones. For FEMA flood map info, call 1-800-358-9616 (Bothell office 425-487-4678), or visit www.fema.gov for an on-line flood map. You may also visit or call our office for flood zone information.

34.  What should I do if I am having a dispute with a neighbor over a property line or their vegetation encroaching into my property?

This is a civil matter. You will need to contact an attorney if you are unable to reach an agreement with your neighbor.         back  to top

35.  Where can I get aerial photos of properties in Snohomish County?

Snohomish County Public Works has aerial photos of Snohomish County. They are located on the 1st floor of the Wall Street Building at 2930 Wetmore Avenue in Everett. 425-388-3488

36.  Do you have the plans of my house on file there?

More than likely we do NOT have the structural plans. This office keeps structural plans for houses during the construction of the house and for a period of 90 days after the final inspection. After the 90 days, the plans are destroyed.                                            back  to top

37.  Do you have a drawing of how my house sits on the property?

We refer to this as a "site plan". It is also sometimes referred to as a plot plan. If the house was built after 1982, our permit records will contain this information. Please contact our records room at 425-388-3622. Please note however, that during construction of the house minor changes in the field could have occurred so the house location may not match the site plan on file.

38.  Who is the sewer and/or water purveyor for this property?

Snohomish County does not operate the sewer and water systems. There are various sewer and water districts in cities that provide these services to properties in unincorporated Snohomish County. PDS maintains a list of Water and Sewer Purveyors (pdf) but does not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of the information.                                                                        back  to top

39.  Where is my septic tank located?

Please contact the Snohomish Health District,

3020 Rucker, Everett, WA 98201
425-339-5250
www.snohd.org

40.  Do I need to have a perc test done to get a permit?

Please contact the Snohomish Health District             back  to top

3020 Rucker, Everett, WA 98201
425-339-5250
www.snohd.org

41.  How do I get a permit?

Request one of our informational application packets by calling 425-388-3311 or pick one up in our office on the 5th floor in the Administration Building or see our Applications Packets page on-line. 

42.  How long does it take to get a permit?           back  to top

It depends on the type of project, complexity of the project, and time of the year. The summer months are the building department's busiest season. Single-family homes and accessory buildings such as garages and carports on sewers may only take 10-15 working days if there are no site concerns. Site issues such as critical areas, drainage, and grading may involve additional reviews that will make the overall permit approval time longer. Lots served by a septic tank and drainfield may also experience a longer review if the project has problems or other issues with the Snohomish Health District. There are some types of permits that can often be issued over the counter. These include mechanical permits, plumbing permits, and demolition permits.  Permit Process Information is on-line. (pdf)

43.  Do I need a permit to replace my mobile home with a new one?

Yes, a permit is required any time a mobile home is placed on a piece of property regardless of whether it is a new or a replacement. Mobile Home  Application Packet and Information is on-line.

44.  Can I live in a travel trailer?                           back  to top

No, however, in certain rural zones, travel trailers are allowed on parcels for up to 180 days for recreational dwelling purposes. Travel trailers are not considered a full-time dwelling unit and therefore cannot be used as a permanent residence. Travel Trailers - Bulletin # 53 is on-line (pdf) for more information.

45.  Is there a special permit needed to move a house, accessory building, or mobile home on a county road?          back  to top

Please contact the Snohomish County Treasurer's office at 425-388-3366 or visit www.co.snohomish.wa.us/treasurer. If a state highway will be traveled on, please contact the Washington Dept. of Transportation at 206-440-4000 or visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/freight/mcs.

46.  How do I make a structure that was built without a permit "legal"?

A permit will be required, however, an inspection report may or may not be needed, as it will depend on the nature of the work and building. Our recommendation is to visit our permit counter to explain the issues associated with the work done without a permit. Planning and Development Services staff will then determine the appropriate course of action.                                                                  back  to top

47.  Can I raise and have chickens, turkeys, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits and similar small animals on my property?

Yes. Zoning code provisions allow a person to have these types of farm animals for non-commercial purposes in residential and rural zoned areas. Structures used to house or feed animals must maintain a setback of 30 feet from all property lines and residences. You should also be aware that privately recorded restrictive covenants in a plat might restrict animals. If you live in a subdivision that has restrictive covenants, you will need to review those covenants to see if your homeowners association allows this activity. In the R-7200, R-8400, R-9600, R-12,500, R-20,000 and WFB zones, you need a minimum of 5 acres and a conditional use permit if raising these animals is not for the primary consumption of or use by the occupants of the premises.                                                                  back  to top

48.  Can I have horses on my property?

Yes, but structures used to house or feed the horses must maintain a setback of 30 feet from all property lines and dwellings. Check for any private covenants that may restrict this type of activity. If you are proposing to have an equestrian facility for commercial purposes, refer to our Stables & Equestrian Centers - Bulletin #2. (pdf)

49.  Who do I contact about asbestos removal?     back  to top

Contact the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, 110 Union Street, Suite 500, Seattle, WA 98101-2038. They can be contacted at (206) 343-8800 or 1-800-552-3565, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. www.pscleanair.org

50.  Why do I have to provide a notarized copy of a contractor's card if I am using a contractor?          back  to top

The State of Washington requires verification of contractor registration by a city, town or county. Verification means the receipt and duplication by the city, town or county of a contractor registration card that is current on its face. For verification of a non-original card by a city, town or county, the city, town or county may accept, for purposes of verification, a copy of the original contractor registration card, which has been attested to by the person who applied for that original registration card and which is notarized.
RCW 18.27.110

51.  How do I get someone from the county to come out and look at a piece of property that appears to have a code violation?

You may Report a Violation on-line, download an Investigative Report form (pdf),  or call Code Enforcement at 425-388-3650 to obtain an investigative report form.   Fill it out and return it to our office. Upon receipt of a completed form, a Code Enforcement Officer will visit the site. He or she will then determine if there is a violation and, if needed, initiate the code compliance process.                                       back  to top