What Requires a Permit?

I have verified that my property is located within unincorporated Washoe County. How do I know if I need a permit?  

There are many projects that may require a Washoe County permit; residential, manufactured, mobile homes, commercial, demolition, grading, pools, reroof, utilities, high pile combustible storage, etc.

*Anything not listed requires a permit. 

 What work is Permit Exempt? 

Scope: 100.105.2 Work exempt from permit. Exemptions from permit requirements of this code shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of this code or any other laws or ordinances of this jurisdiction. Permits shall not be required where exempted by law and for the following:


1. Non-habitable, one-story detached accessory structures on residentially zoned property or on a lot with an established principal residential use that are tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 200 square feet (18.58 m2), and does not include electrical, mechanical, or plumbing; and meets required setbacks for a structure as defined in WCC Chapter 110. In the Tahoe basin, the building must also not create land coverage as defined by TRPA.

2. Residential fences not over 30 inches (762 mm) high when in the front yard or not over six feet (1829 mm) when outside the front yard and not used as swimming pool barrier or as required screening pursuant to WCC Chapters 50 and 110.

3. Oil derricks.

4. Retaining walls or rockery walls that are not over 48 inches (1219 mm) in height measured from adjacent grades, but only if the wall does not support a surcharge or impound Class I, II or IIIA liquids. All retaining walls that support any surcharge will require a permit. Surcharge is defined as any material or loading from above (i.e. behind the retaining wall) that is being supported by the retaining wall. In the Tahoe basin, walls must also not create land coverage as defined by TRPA.

5. Water tanks supported directly on grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons (18 925 L) and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2:1. In the Tahoe basin, tanks must also not create land coverage as defined by TRPA.

6. Patios, sidewalks and driveways not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above adjacent lowest grade, without foundations, and not over any septic system, basement or story below, and not part of an accessible route. In the Tahoe basin, coverage from these items must not also create land coverage as defined by TRPA.

7. Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work.

8. Temporary (not to exceed 180 days) motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.

9. Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R-3 occupancy that are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep, do not exceed 5,000 gallons (18 925 L) and are installed entirely above ground. In the Tahoe basin, the pools must also not create land coverage as defined by TRPA.

10. Shade cloth structures constructed for nursery or agricultural purposes, with no associated electrical, plumbing, or mechanical.

11. Swings and other playground equipment accessory to detached one- and two-family dwellings.

12. Window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches (1372 mm) from the exterior wall and do not project more than 24 inches (610 mm) into any setback and do not require additional support in Group R-3 and U occupancies only. In the Tahoe basin, the window awnings must also not be visible from a TRPA defined corridor.

13. Non-fixed and movable fixtures, cases, racks, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches (1753 mm) in height.

14. Roofing repair, if the roof is less than 100 square feet (9.29 m2) or still under its one-year warranty.

15. Door and window replacement when the opening size and location remain the same, meets the adopted energy code requirements, meets the current safety glazing requirements, and egress windows comply with all the requirements of the applicable code in effect at the time of original installation. In the Tahoe basin, door and windows must also meet the glazing requirements as defined by TRPA.

16. Wire fencing on parcels larger than 2 acres and do not exceed 54 inches (1372 mm) in height.

17. Repair or replacement of fences less than 100 linear feet (30 480 mm) long with the same material, style, location, and height.

18. Wood or composite siding applied over existing siding or existing shear wall.

19. Decks not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above grade and meets required setbacks as defined in WCC Chapter 110. Exception: All decks in the Tahoe Basin require a building permit pursuant to WCC Chapter 110 and TRPA requirements.

20. Replacement of glazing or replacement of glazing in hazardous locations with tempered glazing. (see reverse side)

21. Grading under 50 cubic yards (38.23 m3) pursuant to WCC Chapter 110.

22. Membrane-covered frame structures intended for residential storage or agricultural use only, which are not more than 280 square feet (26.01 m2) in area, not more than 12 feet (3658 mm) in height, meets required setbacks for a structure as defined in WCC Chapter 110, installed per the manufacturer’s recommendation with no associated electrical, plumbing, or mechanical, and maintains a minimum clearance of 10 feet (3048 mm) from other buildings. In the Tahoe basin, all membrane-covered frame structures must also not create land coverage as defined by TRPA.

Electrical: Repairs and maintenance:

1. Minor repair work, including the replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles.

2. Reinstallation of attachment plug receptacles, but not the outlets thereof.

3. Replacement of branch circuit over-current devices of the required capacity in the same location.

4. Repair or replacement of current carrying parts of any switch, contractor or control device.

5. Repair or replacement of electrodes or transformers of the same size and capacity for signs or gas tube systems.

6. Repair or replacement of fixed motors, transformers or fixed approved appliances of the same type and rating in the same location.

7. Removal of electrical wire, coax or communication wire.

8. Replacement of light fixtures in single family and accessory structures.

Temporary uses:

1. Listed cord and plug connected temporary decorative lighting.

2. Listed temporary construction lighting or wiring.

3. Carnivals and circuses.

4. Installation of any temporary system required for the testing or servicing of electrical equipment or apparatus.

5. Temporary wiring for experimental purposes in suitable experimental laboratories.

Electrical wiring, devices and appliances: Electrical wiring, devices, appliances, apparatus or equipment operating at less than 25 volts and not capable of supplying more than 50 watts of energy.
Radio and television transmitting stations: The provisions of this code shall not apply to electrical equipment used for radio and television transmissions, but do apply to equipment and wiring for a power supply and the installations of towers and antennas.


Portable gas-heating appliance.


1. Portable heating appliance.

2. Portable ventilation equipment.

3. Portable cooling unit.

4. Steam, hot or chilled water piping within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by this code.

5. Replacement of any part that does not alter its approval or make it unsafe.

6. Portable evaporative cooler.

7. Self-contained refrigeration system containing 10 pounds (5 kg) or less of refrigerant and actuated by motors of 1 horsepower (746 W) or less.


1. The stopping of leaks in drains, water, soil, waste or vent pipe, provided, however, that if any concealed trap, drain pipe, water, soil, waste or vent pipe becomes defective and it becomes necessary to remove and replace the same with new material, such work shall be considered as new work and a permit shall be obtained and inspection made as provided in this code.

2. The clearing of stoppages or the repairing of leaks in pipes, valves or fixtures and the removal and reinstallation of water closets, provided such repairs do not involve or require the replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes or fixtures..

3. The repair or replacement of residential sinks, lavatories, or water closets and their associated valves and traps provided such do not require the modification, replacement or rearrangement of the water, waste, or vent pipes. 

Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »
Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »