Change of Use

Before you consider purchasing, renting or leasing a site for your business, contact Planning & Development at 509.625.6300 to help determine what modifications to the building or space may be required. Staff may recommend that you attend a Pre-Development Conference so that they can better understand your proposed project.

What is a Change of Use?

Every building is given an occupancy classification as determined by Chapter 3 of the International Building Code (IBC) when it is originally built. Each classification has different code requirements based upon the type of hazards or uses within the building. A change of use is when there is a change in the authorized occupancy type of the building that would amend the way the IBC characterizes the use or occupancy type of the building.

Most often, buildings are constructed to the minimum code requirements that apply for the use in which the building was originally intended. There is a need to review plans and inspect the modifications made when the use of a building changes to ensure the building can support the life safety and parking requirements of the new occupancy type. For instance, there will be different exiting, fire wall/separation, and parking requirements that will need to be met to allow a day care facility or store to be placed in an office building. A less obvious example of a change of use is when a restaurant that has seating for less than 50 wants to increase the number of seats.

It is important to keep in mind that the legal use of the building may not be its most recent actual use. This means that a change of use permit may be required even if you don't plan to make any changes to the building or how the building is currently being used. The authorized use or occupancy type is identified on a building's Certificate of Occupancy. Once all permits and plan review departments have provided approvals or completed a final inspection, a new Certificate of Occupancy will be issued authorizing occupancy of the building or space under its new use.

Does My Project Need a Change of Use Permit?

A new tenant of a commercial building space that will change the use or occupancy class may require a change of use permit. Staff in Planning & Development will help you determine your existing and proposed classification and if a change of use permit will be required.

How do I apply for a Change of Use Permit?

To apply for a change of use permit, contact Planning & Development at 509.625.6300 to schedule an intake meeting. The State of Washington requires that a sufficiently licensed and bonded contractor complete any modifications, upgrades, or remodel work that will be performed if this is a leased space or if the work is being completed for the purpose of selling the building. Therefore, in most instances the permit can only be issued to a contractor.

Contact Information

DSC & Permit Center

3rd Floor City Hall
808 W Spokane Falls Blvd
Spokane, WA 99201

Walk-in Hours:

  • M/T/TH/F: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • W: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.