Guide to Residential Permits

Permits are required when you are building a new single family house or if you need to make an addition, alteration or repair to the existing 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.

  • If you are a homeowner acting as the contractor for your project, the Homeowners Exemption Affidavit will need to be completed and submitted with your permit application.
  • Is your home 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 contains a private well or septic tank, you will need approval from the Beaufort County Environmental Services and a copy of the well or septic tank permit will need to be submitted along with your building 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.
  • If you are building a new house or an addition onto the exist house you will need to check with the City of Washington Planning Department for front side and rear setback 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 main residence. As a condition of this exemption, the owner shall occupy the dwelling for a minimum of twelve (12) months after the project is completed. The dwelling may not be rented, leased or sold during this time period. A Homeowner’s Exemption Affidavit must be submitted to the Inspections office.


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

Residential Application Requirements:

  • Project Address
  • Property Owners Name
  • Beaufort Co. GPIN Number
  • Total Project Cost (Including all electrical, mechanical, plumbing and gas)
  • Full description of work to be performed
  • Plot Plan
  • Lien Agent
  • Permit Applicants Signature (If application is not signed permit cannot be processed)

Residential 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
  • 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 Permit Application
  • 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 Applicable)
  • Submit a flood elevations certificate (If Applicable)
  • Submit a C.A.M.A. permit or exemption letter (If Applicable)

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 residence 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 can be issued.