EPISODE 2: Getting Building Permits with the City of Tacoma

Do I need to get permits when renovation my Home in Tacoma, WA?

When I started my home remodel, permitting was a non negotiable. It had to be done for these reasons: personal learning as a Home Owner and Realtor AND to avoid any serious errors while work was being complete. Despite the less-than-good reputation the City of Tacoma Permitting department carries, I’m still convinced the professionals who work there and code requirements in place, are there with the intent to protect home owners. NOT to make the process more difficult (although sometimes it doesn’t feel like it!) Five weeks, five revisions and DOZENS of meetings later, we are now SIGNED OFF on our building permit with the City of Tacoma!!!!! It wasn’t easy, But I learned SOOO much and want to share them with you.

How do you successfully get Permits signed off by the city from the City of Tacoma? (Specifically Building and Mechanical Permits)


  • Your permits are only as good as your drawings. If there are deficiencies in your drawings, your contractor(s) who complete the work will likely not have the information needed to complete in its entirety because of lacking information. Resulting in change orders and MORE MONEY that you as the home owner have to fork out.

STEP 2: ASK QUESTIONS and Hire contractors who ASK QUESTIONS!

  • My personal inexperience and lack of knowledge made me feel really vulnerable when “reviewing” the plans that my engineer finalized. I had no idea what to look for and took him at his word. Speaking with my City Inspector directly, provided me insight into deficiencies and gave me tangible “to do’s”. This helped me hold the professionals I had hired accountable. I asked a lot of dumb questions. Set up meetings with all involved to assure we were all on the same page to eliminate any communication errors. (We are all familiar with telephone! Messages get construed and details lost as they pass through hands).
  • My contractors see me asking questions and I CONSISTENTLY remind them to treat my house as if it was their own. Because of this, I’m convinced they are motivated to probe when they aren’t getting the full picture.

STEP 3:TRUST the contractors you hire and hold yourself accountable for hiring them!

  • Did you interview multiple professionals before hiring them? If not, well… that’s your own fault. If you aren’t excited for them to start the work, then reconsider hiring them.


Successful permitting is a melting pot of many things and NONE of them include blame and anger. The start of Building and Mechanical Permits is heavily dependent on the quality of your drawings. When navigating through revisions, success is in the details and building/maintain relationships with your contractors, city inspectors and engineers.