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City Seeks Designs for Backyard Cottages to be Pre-approved for Permits

To help more residents own and rent detached accessory dwelling units (DADUs), the City is seeking submissions from architects, designers, and builders for plans that will be pre-approved for construction permits.  

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan directed City staff to select plans for pre-approval to make the process to design and permit DADUs — often called backyard cottages — faster, easier, cheaper, and more predictable. Homeowners choosing a pre-approved plan will pay reduced permit fees and get their permit faster — in 2-6 weeks rather than several months for sites that do not involve protected trees or environmentally critical areas.  

Architects and designers interested in submitting a plan should review the design criteria and requirements outlined in our new Pre-approved DADU Submission Guide. The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) and Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) gathered input through a public survey and stakeholder conversations to inform the design criteria.  

Designers and builders must submit DADU designs by February 17, 2020, that fulfill the criteria and follow the submission requirements outlined in our Submission Guide. A selection committee will review submissions and identify 6-10 plans that SDCI permitting staff will pre-approve for compliance with certain structural codes. 

Pre-approved plans will be displayed in an online gallery with images, description, and information about the designer. Homeowners can browse the gallery, choose a design, and connect with its designer to proceed with the necessary steps to permit the DADU on their site. Builders must still acquire permits and inspections related to zoning, site preparation, utility connections, and other site-specific requirements. 

Considering submitting a design? The City will hold an information session on January 14, 2020, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Room 4050 of the Seattle Municipal Tower (700 5th Ave) where architects, designers, and builders can ask questions about the selection process, the design criteria, or how homeowners will use plans selected for pre-approval. All questions and answers from the session will be documented in writing and posted publicly online.  

For other questions or to be added to our project email list, contact