Building Department

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In response to the COVID-19 and health concerns, and in concert with Governor Inslee's emergency proclamation, revisions are being made to regular operations of business. 

Community Development / Engineering - Our hours of operation are: Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, excluding holidays but availability is limited due to Covid-19 Restrictions. 

  • 360-423-9922 - Building, Planning & Nuisance Abatement
  • 360-423-6590 - Engineering

*** NOTE*** Permitting will be closed for online and in-person permitting & inspections, Monday January 17th for Martin Luther King Day ****

      • AT CITY HALL BY APPOINTMENT - Completed applications for all other permit types requiring submittals and plan reviews will be accepted via mail with a check for the predetermined plan review fee amount or by arranged drop off to City Hall by emailing .  If dropping off submittals or picking up approved permits, please call or email in advance to make sure someone will be here to meet you. Lunch is between 1:00 and 2:00. Our permit technician will assist in making payment on-line where possible. 
      • Over-the-counter permit applications (Roofing, HVAC, Plumbing) are available on line using our online portal . All other permits requiring submittals and plan review are not available on-line.
    • Any permits requiring a public hearing or meeting will not be issued until such time as the public hearing or meeting statutory requirements can be met, presumably once the Governor’s Proclamation has been amended to allow such meetings or the Proclamation has been rescinded altogether.
    • Once review is complete and approved, permits will be issued upon request with the following disclaimer: “The issuance of this permit does not authorize any construction or other activity in violation of any law, expressly including the Governor’s Emergency Proclamations and related Guidance Memoranda.”
    • Inspection of “essential activities” as defined by the Governor’s Proclamation and related Guidance Memoranda will be performed if it is possible for the inspector to do so safely. 

Building Department

The Kelso Building Department issues permits for all new construction within the Kelso city limits.  This involves the detailed examination of building plans, calculations, and specifications for compliance with building, plumbing and mechanical codes, as well as, field inspections of all aspects of construction and its various component parts and systems.



Frequently Asked Questions

  • When do I need permit?
    • Permits are required to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, or demolish a building or structure; change the use of a building; or erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system. Some projects do not require a permit including fences under 6 feet tall if they meet setback requirements.   
    • When do I need a building permit? (and when I don't)  
    • Setbacks (for structures- Garages, sheds, ADUs, etc.)
    • Fence Setbacks


  • Electrical Permits
    • The City of Kelso does not issue electrical permits.  For electrical permits and electrical inspections, contact Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) at (360) 575-6900 or
  • Fire & Life Safety Permits
    •  All fire, life, and safety permitting is submitted to and issued through Kelso's Building Department.  Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue conducts the city's fire related plan reviews.  For specific fire code questions, contact Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue at (360) 578-5218 or visit
  • Contractor Licenses
    • Contractors are required to have a valid Washington State Contractor's License and Kelso Business License. 
    • Kelso Business Licenses are connected to your state UBI number and are purchased online at Washington State DOR Business Licensing Services.  Contact Kelso Finance at (360) 423-0900 with questions.
    • Homeowners performing the work on the home that they live in are not required to have a license.​
  • How Do I Apply for a Permit? 
  • Permit Fees
  • Building Code & Zoning Code Information

Permit Counter Information

  • Location:  Kelso City Hall, Second Floor, 203 S. Pacific Ave., Kelso, WA  98626
  • Phone:     (360) 423-9922
  • Email:
  • Hours:      Permit application intake and permit issuance hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
    • For general building and planning information, a department receptionist is available Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Online Permitting


The City of Kelso moved to a new permitting system in December 2020. If you were registered in the old system, you will need to re-register.

Online permitting is now available for over the counter type of permits (Mechanical, Plumbing, Re-roof)

Online payments for all types of permits is available in the new system.

We understand that changing systems can be challenging and the decision to move paltforms was not made lightly.  We appreciate your patience while we migrate to the new system and will keep this site updated as quickly as possible with changes.

The link to the new portal is here:  

You can:

  • Apply for an over-the-counter-permit (Mechanical, Plumbing, Re-roof).
  • Pay for a permit (Any type of permit).
  • Schedule inspections
  • Search for issued permits



The City's Building Department provides inspection services for sign and demolition permits, as well as, residential and commercial inspections of mechanical, plumbing and building permits.

  • Inspections are conducted Monday through Thursday, 10:00 am to noon.
  • No inspections will be conducted on Fridays.
  • Inspection requests must be received by 4:30 pm for next day inspections.
  • Final inspection requests require 48 hours notification.
  • To schedule inspections, please call (360) 423-9922.

Check to see if your inspection has been scheduled:

Plan Reviews

  • The complexity and completeness of all plans will affect the review time of construction projects. 
  • For new construction projects east of Interstate 5, a current geotechnical report will be required at time of plan submittal.

Permit Forms & Documents

Use the Building Permit Application for the following:


Monthly Permitting Reports

Click on the links below to see ongoing reports of building, mechanical, pl;umbing and engineering permits that we forward to Cowlitz County once a month.


Building Code & Zoning Code Information