Improve

Develop your floor plan and get your permits in order

You've completed your business planning, applied for licenses and selected a location. Now it's time to transform your space – first securing the necessary permits.

Permitting Checklist

Permit Type Required for Time and Cost
Health District Food Service Plan Review All A plan review submittal fee of $195.00 is required at the time of submittal. This fee covers the first 1.5 hours of plan review. Any additional plan review time and all pre-opening inspection time is billed at the standard hourly rate of $130.00 per hour (2017 fee). The plan review takes approximately 14 days following receipt of a complete plan submittal.
Land Use Permits
  • Conditional Use Permit
The Conditional Use Permit takes 4-5 months and must be approved before building permits. Costs vary from $4,325 to $4,590.
Construction & Trade Permits
  • Change of Use / Occupancy
  • Minor interior alterations
  • Remodels, additions
  • New construction
  • Electrical
  • Mechanical
  • Refrigeration
  • Plumbing, gas & backflow
Over-the-counter permits are issued within 10 days. Remodels and new construction permits may take up to 30 days. Costs are usually based on project value.
Sprinklers & Fire Alarms
  • Installing or upgrading sprinklers or fire alarms
Permits at Fire Station 1: Over-the-counter permits are available for minor projects; 7-10 days for major work for each cycle of review.
Sign & Awning Permits
  • Installing or altering a permanent sign
Base fee is $79.50, then add $75 for pole signs or $30 for wall signs, and $5 for illumination/wiring fee per sign. Usually takes 3-5 days for review.
Right-of-Way Permits
  • Outdoor Seating
  • Street Use Permits
  • Temporary Right-of-Way Permits
The Sidewalk Cafe Permit initial review and permit fee is $300 (non-refundable). It takes a minimum of 3-4 weeks for review and processing. The annual renewal fee for a Sidewalk Café Permit is $250 per year after the first year.

Food Service Plan Review

Spokane Regional Health District requires a plan review for all Food Establishments prior to operating. The plan review must be completed and approved by the Food Safety Program before any Building Permits can be issued to ensure you have the necessary facilities and equipment.

Note: Ownership transfers of existing Food Establishments that are currently permitted and operating do not require a plan review if there will be no changes in the facility, equipment or menu. Permit application and transfer fee must be submitted and approved before the ownership change occurs to avoid an Unapproved Ownership Change fee. Check with the Food Safety Program to clarify your responsibilities.

Plan Review Process provides detailed information about developing and submitting a plan, and about the approval process.

Time & Cost

A plan review submittal fee of $195 is required at the time of submittal. This fee covers the first 1.5 hours of plan review. Any additional plan review time and all pre-opening inspection time is billed at the standard hourly rate of $130 per hour (2017 fee). The plan review takes approximately 14 days following receipt of a complete plan submittal.

When construction is complete, schedule a pre-opening inspection to verify the restaurant is in compliance with the approved plans. The annual Food Establishment Permit fee must be paid prior to scheduling the pre-opening inspection. To schedule your pre-opening inspection contact the Health District at 509.324.1560, ext. 2.

Land Use Permits

Once you've secured your location, you can apply for any necessary land use permits. Land Use Permits must be applied for before the building permit application is made.

Get Expert Advice

For questions about property information or submitting an application with the City of Spokane, please call the Development Services Center at 509.625.6300 or visit us on the 3rd Floor City Hall, 808 W Spokane Falls Blvd.

Planning and Development also offers an optional free Pre-Development Conference (PDF 242 KB), that allows the applicant to meet with representatives from City departments and other governmental agencies that may be involved in the plan review process.

If you need additional information on land use, building codes, and which requirements apply to you, consider hiring an architect or other building professional to help explain.

Construction & Trade Permits

Spokane Planning & Development reviews plans and issues permits for new construction and alteration of commercial buildings. Spokane Regional Health District's Food Service Plan review is a separate review from the Building Permit process, but must be completed prior to the issuance of a Building Permit.

  • Pre-Development Conferences (PDF 242 KB) – These no-cost optional meetings allow the owner and/or owner's agent(s) to meet with staff to discuss preliminary design and/or construction issues.
  • If the project involves site work, parking lot changes, exterior modifications (ramps, canopies, additions) or involves a change in use or occupancy group, then an intake meeting (PDF 100 KB) is necessary and additional requirements will apply. See New Construction, Addition, and Change-Of-Use
  • Smaller projects may qualify for an Over-the-Counter (OTC) Review (PDF 44 KB) – OTC reviews are quick turn-around reviews and approvals that apply to small interior commercial remodels, and are generally approved on the same day as presented.
  • Trade permits are needed for work on electrical, mechanical, plumbing, elevators, boilers, gas, water and sewer, but usually your licensed contractor will get the permit. Your contractor will usually obtain these permits for you.
  • Transportation impact fees may be assessed prior to the issuance of Building Permits. Fees are based on the number of new p.m. peak-hour trips a project will generate, the type and size of restaurant, and the location of the restaurant. If property is expanded or redeveloped, the fees will be reduced to reflect the number of vehicle trips generated by the previous use of the property.
  • A Certificate of Appropriateness may be required from the Spokane Historic Preservation Office if your site is a landmark building or in a historic neighborhood.
  • Demolitions – All commercial demolition applications, whether they are partial demolitions or total demolitions, are reviewed by Planning and Development, and Historic Preservation staff.
Use Licensed Contractors

If you hire a contractor, use only Department of Labor and Industries licensed contractors. Your contractors will also need to hold City of Spokane business licenses to pull permits.

Pre-Development Conference

A Pre-Development Conference (PDF 242 KB) is generally recommended for new development. This is an optional meeting that allows the applicant to meet with representatives from City departments and other governmental agencies that may be involved in the plan review process. These meetings help applicants determine project feasibility and provide an overview of requirements to prepare for the application submittal process.

Sprinkler & Fire Alarm Permits

Sprinkler and fire alarm permits are required from the Spokane Fire Department when installing, modifying, or upgrading sprinkler and fire alarm systems. See Fire Safety section in Locate for information about when sprinklers and alarms are required.

Contractors are required to be registered with the Spokane Fire Department. Fire alarm designers are required to be registered and to use the City-issued stamp for plan submittal. Permits take an average of 7-10 days.

  • Fire sprinkler and fire alarm shop drawings are submitted as deferred submittals directly to the Fire Department for review. You can submit shop drawings prior to submitting for your building permit review or during the same time period. If corrections are required to the plans, each round of Fire Permit review may take one week or more depending on the complexity of the project. Prior to project completion, the Fire Department inspects all fire protection systems, including sprinklers, fire alarms and range hood fire suppression systems.
  • Sprinkler systems may also require permits from the Spokane Water Department if a new service is required. For new systems, a flow test completed within three years of the design is required to ensure sufficient water flow. Flow testing is conducted by the Water Department.
  • Open flame use (fireplaces, candles, fire pits, fire tables, etc., and special events require Fire Department approval.
Time & Cost

Review and approval of fire sprinkler and alarm plans usually take 7 to 10 days. Permits fees are based on the value of the work.

Get Expert Advice

Fire Department personnel are available to assist with plan review and provide technical assistance on a walk-in basis at Fire Station 1, located at 44 W. Riverside Avenue, or by calling 509.625.7000.

Sign or Awning Permits

Sign or Awning Permits (PDF 251 KB) are required from the Development Services Center to install, alter or repair any permanent sign, sign structure, awning or strobe light.

You may also need the following permits/approvals:

  • An Electrical Permit (PDF 306 KB) is required if the sign is electrically powered or illuminated, and the applicant does not have an electrical contractor's license.
  • A Certificate of Appropriateness from the Spokane Historic Preservation Office is required if your sign is attached to a historic structure.

Right-of-Way Permits

If you're planning outdoor seating, installing anything that extends into or over public space, or if you temporarily need to use public areas for construction activities, you'll need a permit from the City.

  • Outdoor Seating: Apply for a Sidewalk Café Permit (PDF 88 KB) from Planning and Development. Sidewalk Café Permits are valid for the calendar year and must be renewed annually. Unobstructed pedestrian clearances, per the planning codes, must be maintained.
  • A Revocable Permit and License is required if you install or place anything that extends into or over any public place (e.g., ventilation ducts, lights, and flower baskets). Permits are issued by Planning and Development.
  • A Street Obstruction Permit (PDF 304 KB) may be needed during construction for material storage, scaffolding, or crossing the curb and walkway with heavy equipment.

Work done on arterial streets, in designated “centers” and “corridors,” affecting Spokane Transit Authority bus routes or in the downtown area, may require extended review times. Some areas may require a detailed traffic control plan prior to review submission.

Time & Cost

Sidewalk Café Permit processing time is usually 3 to 4 weeks and costs $300 for the initial review and permit, which can be renewed annually for $250.

Revocable Permit and Licenses are issued on a case-by-case basis and costs may vary depending on the project.

Street Obstruction Permits are usually processed in 1 to 3 days and the costs will depend on the work being done and length of time the street is obstructed.

The information in this guide is accurate as of July 2015. Always consult with the appropriate department or agency for current requirements.



Have Questions?

Contact the Development Services Center at 509.625.6300 or visit us on the 3rd Floor City Hall, 808 W Spokane Falls Blvd.