Guide to Detached Accessory Building Permits

Permits are required when you are building a new detached accessory building or if you are constructing an addition, alteration or repair to the existing detached building or structure. Permits are NOT required for any construction work to a residential structure where the total cost of construction is less than fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) unless the work involves the addition, repair or replacement of load bearing components of the structure; the addition or change in the design of the plumbing system; the addition, replacement or change in the heating, air conditioning, electrical wiring, electrical devices or equipment. The permit and inspection process ensures that the projects are well constructed, safe for occupants and meet all current code requirements.

Note that the permit application should be complete before submitting to the Washington Inspections Department. Incompleteness will add time to the review and approval process.

There are a few things you need to know before submitting your permit application.

  • Is your building located in the Historic District? If so, you will be required to submit a Certificate of Appropriateness to the Historic Planning Administrator. Approval may be required prior to submitting your permit application.
  • If your property is located in a flood zone you will need to submit a certified benchmark certificate along with your building permit application.
  • If you plan on building within seventy five (75) feet of a body of water, a C.A.M.A. permit or exemption letter will need to be submitted along with your building permit application.
  • Please check with the City of Washington Planning Department for property line setbacks and any easements which may be on the property.

Licensed General Contractor Requirements:

  • North Carolina General Statutes require a licensed general contractor for construction where the total cost, including electrical – plumbing – mechanical – gas, of the project is thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) dollars or more. When the total cost of the project is less than thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) a licensed general contractor is not required. An exemption to this statute allows a homeowner to act as their own general contractor without a license for the construction of their own detached structure as long as the homeowner is performing the work.

Below is a general overview of detached building permit application and plan submittal requirements. For a comprehensive list of permit application, visit our permit applications page.

Residential and Commercial Application Requirements:

  • Project Address
  • Property Owners Name
  • Beaufort Co. GPIN Number (Located on Beaufort Co. GIS mapping)
  • Total Project Cost (Including all electrical, mechanical, plumbing and gas)
  • Full description of work to be performed
  • Plot Plan (Showing ALL structures located on parcel)
  • Lien Agent (If project cost is over $30,000)
  • Permit Applicants Signature (If application is not signed permit cannot be processed)

Detached Accessory Building Permit Plan Requirements:

  • Plans must be submitted on paper not smaller than eleven inch by seventeen inch (11 x 17 inch)
  • Plans must be drawn to architectural scale; Minimum scale of ¼ inch = 1 foot
  • Each set of plans must have the address of the project and the permit holders name and phone number
  • Plans must have a foundation plan showing footing sizes and locations; pier sizes and locations with dimensions, slab thickness and components (vapor barrier, rebar, wire mesh, etc.)
  • Floor plan with dimensions and each room labeled (note: “other” is not a recognized use)
  • Typical wall section indicating materials used including R-value of insulation, wall framing sizes, exterior finishes


  • Submit a completed Residential Building Permit Application or Commercial Building Permit Application (whichever is applicable)
  • Submit two (2) sets of building plans with address and contractors name on each set
  • All projects with a total cost of thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) or more must have a Lien Agent Designation
  • Submit a copy of a plot plan showing complete parcel with dimensions to all property lines and distances between all building on the property
  • Submit a copy of a septic tank permit for the property (If there is a septic tank on the property)
  • Submit a flood elevations certificate (If property is located in a flood plain)
  • Submit a C.A.M.A. permit or exemption letter (If building is located within 75 feet of the water)

Once all required information has been submitted to the Inspections Office, it will take approximately ten (10) to fourteen (14) working days to process for a permit. Once completed someone from the Inspections Office will contact you by phone to let you know your permit is ready to be picked and paid for. You may call 252-975-9650 anytime Monday – Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm to check on the status of the permit.

Residential building permit fees are required to be paid and permit posted on job site prior to beginning construction. Please check the Inspection’s Fee Schedule for cost of permits. Generally permit cost are calculated at $0.15 per square feet of heated square footage plus $0.10 per square feet for all usable unheated square feet (such as porches, garages, screened porches, attached carports and storage rooms, etc.). Trade permits are calculated at $0.08 per square feet for all total square feet (heated and unheated) being permitted.

It is the permit holder’s responsibility to schedule each of their inspections. Inspections are to be schedule before 8:00 am in order to be inspected that day. Any inspection called in after 8:00 am will be scheduled for the next working day. To Schedule your inspection please call 252-975-9650 or fax to 252-214-6150 or email to .

When scheduling your inspection please provide the following information:

  • Address of the project
  • Permit number
  • Type of inspection you are requesting
  • Your name and phone number

This is the minimum amount of information needed to schedule your inspection. Please speak clearly so we can understand what you are requesting. Failure to provide the minimum information or speaking clearly will result in not scheduling your inspection. For list of required inspection please check our Inspections Request Guide. Once a final building inspection is approved a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued for the project. No one shall occupy a building until the final building inspection is approved. If the residential building is located in a flood zone, a final certified elevation certificate must be submitted to the inspection office before a Certificate of Occupancy ca