Select the subject heading below for answers to frequently asked questions.

Visit us for walk-in service 8:00 - 4:30 Monday-Thursday and 8:00 - noon Friday:

615 W Alder St
Shelton, WA 98584

Or call (360) 427-9670 ext. 352

About My Property
How do I apply for a permit at Mason County?
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About My Property
What is the difference between "legal lot," "buildable lot," and "taxable lot"?

A legal lot is a fractional part of subdivided lands having fixed boundaries, being of sufficient area and dimension to meet minimum requirements for width and area. The criteria to determine the legal status of a lot is specified in Section 16.08.100 of the Mason County Code
The determination of legal lot status is made by Planning staff. If a parcel of land is determined not to have been created legally, the owner may not be eligible to apply for building or other permits if the criteria for determining a violation is metper Mason County Code Section 16.44.040
To speak with a Planning staff member on this subject, call Planning customer service at:
(360) 427-9670 ext. 352 or visit us for walk-in service at: 615 W Alder St. Shelton, WA 98584

A buildable lot is a lot that contains a building site. Having a lot that is "buildable" still does not necessarily mean that a dwelling unit may be constructed. While a lot may meet the criteria for being "buildable," other approvals such as Public Health (for water and septic systems) are required before a building permit can be issued.
A tax lot is a parcel which appears on the County Assessor's map and has been assigned a tax parcel number by the Assessor. Tax parcel numbers are assigned for billing purposes. A tax parcel number is not necessarily an indication that the lot was legally created.

What is the zoning on my property and what does it mean?

Properties are zoned within communities to ensure that different types of development are properly situated relative to each other and that there are adequate setbacks, open space, parking, and landscaping for each type of development.
Zoning within Mason County is divided into general land use categories.  For example:

  • Residential
  • Commercial / Industrial
  • Resource Lands

Residentially zoned property in unincorporated Mason County may be either rural residential (RR) or residential (R) within the urban growth areas. The number of dwelling units allowed per acre is reflected by the number associated with the zone. For example, a property that is zoned R-3 is High Density Multi-Family Residential inside the urban growth boundary and has a maximum density of 20 dwelling units per acre.
Other base zoning code abbreviations and general information is contained in Title 17 of the Mason County Code.
Zoning also determines the setbacks, height restrictions and impervious surface limitations for each property.

What are the setbacks for my property?

General setback information for property in unincorporated Mason County can be found in Title 17 of the Mason County Code.

In addition to setback information, this chapter also identifies the number of dwelling units per acre, minimum lot size, and height restrictions as found in the matrix table under each specific zoning designation.

Can my lot be subdivided?

By knowing the zoning of the property and its size (in acres), you can determine if a lot can be subdivided. The Mason County Code Chapter 16.36 for Short Subdivisions and Chapter 16.38 for Large Lot Subdivisions will be consulted to determine the base density of property (dwelling units allowed per acre) and the minimum lot area required. Both Chapters require similar general considerations including:

  • The proposed lots are in conformity with the intent of the comprehensive plan requirements;
  • The proposed lots are served with adequate means of access, and, as may be applicable, fire protection, drainage, water supplies, and means of sanitary sewage disposal;
  • The public use and interest will be served by permitting the proposed division of the land;
  • Adequate legal descriptions are provided for each lot;
  • All real property taxes shall be paid to date.

All subdivision proposals are reviewed for conformance with the Mason County Resource Ordinance, Chapter 8.52 of the Mason County Code
The County also considers the base density of property or dwelling units allowed per acre and the minimum lot area required.  For example, a property in unincorporated Mason County zoned Rural Residential 5 and 10 acres in size can be divided into 2 lots as long as no lot is smaller than two acres.
Additionally, consideration is given to State requirements set out in Washington Administrative Code (WAC 246-272A-0320) for minimum land area requirements when on-site septic is proposed or in place.
Note also that proposed subdivisions require a pre-application meeting.

What can I build on my property?

Development on a specific property is determined by its zoning. All issues pertaining to land uses for property in unincorporated Mason County can be researched by referencing Permitted Uses in the Mason County Code Chapter 17.04

Can I build an accessory dwelling unit or an accessory living quarters on my property?

To determine if an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), also referred to as a mother-in-law apartment, is allowed on a given parcel, customers must know the zoning and lot size.
Generally, in unincorporated Mason County ADUs are allowed in most zones with the exception of non-residential zones like Mineral Resource or Industrial zones.  Please reference Mason County Code Section 17.03.029 of the Mason County Code for additional information.

How many vehicles can I have on my property?

Off Street parking requirements are established by Mason County Code Section 17.03.040.

Parking requirements for all land uses will follow the standards from Chapter 17.08, Mason County Parking Standards.

In all Rural Residential Zones and Inholding Lands:
(1)  No parcel without a residence shall have more than three vehicles located on the parcel;
(2) No parcel having a residence shall have more than ten vehicles located on the parcel;
(3) The limits of criteria (1) and (2) of this section apply regardless of the specific vehicles on the parcel or whether the vehicles are moved around on the parcel;
(4) Vehicles contained in permitted residential garages or enclosed buildings approved for occupancy Group U-1 (motor vehicle storage) and having a complete floor surface and floor drainage that contains any fluids from infiltrating into the ground, shall not be counted or included in the limits of criteria (1) and (2) of this section;
(5) All vehicle accumulations on a parcel made nonconforming by these regulations shall be removed from the parcel by July 1, 2004;
(6) These limits shall apply to vehicles located on a parcel for more than seven days;
(7) A residence is defined in this section as a site-built, manufactured, or modular home permanently installed on the parcel;
(8) Vehicles in this section include, but are not limited to, cars, trucks, vans, buses, recreational vehicles, trailers, all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, watercraft, airplanes, and earthmoving, logging, or construction equipment, but does not include farm equipment;
(9) Adjoining parcels of common ownership (not separated by state or county road) shall be considered part of the same parcel for the purposes of this section.

How can I find property records, such as the original plans to my house?

The location of property records depends on record type and date. Mason County has established an on-line process to search our permit records.  You can request records through our Searchable Permit website.

The Building Department maintains records for unincorporated Mason County. However, some records for properties that are annexed or incorporated Shelton subsequent to finalization of a County permit are also available.  We do not maintain copies of blue prints.
Records for property located within city limits generally require contacting the City of Shelton directly.

What can I do if I buy property and find out later that a structure on the property was built without permits?

Customers with illegally-built structures on property in unincorporated Mason County may apply for current permits through the Planning Department. Please contact Code Enforcement at 360-427-9670 x363.

Under Mason County Code Section 15.13.020, nonconforming structures or those constructed without required permits do not vest and require current permits. Depending on the quality of construction, alterations to the structure may be required to comply with County Codes. The time period during which the structure was built may be taken into consideration during permit review.

What if my neighbor and I disagree about our property boundary lines?

In certain situations, County Planning Department may recognize the use of RCW 58.04 (Revised Code of Washington) as a method of resolving boundary problems with or without a court order or the use of a Boundary Line Adjustment (BLA).  However, we do not recognize agreements using this process for purposes other than those it was intended to cover.

This process under state law is limited to situations where "a point or line determining the boundary between two or more parcels of real property cannot be identified from the existing public record, monuments, and landmarks, or is in dispute" (excerpt from RCW 58.04.007, emphasized).

So, when this process is used, the County requires that the paperwork be submitted to Planning Services prior to recording, so that staff can perform an expedited review to assure that the Boundary Line Adjustment process is not circumvented.
The process that we use to perform this review is a review of the status of legal lot lines (estimated permit fees are available).

If the process defined in RCW 58.04 is found to be an acceptable method to use for establishing the new boundary line location, then the Planning Department will provide a letter to the Assessor's Office asking that they recognize each new lot configuration as a legal lot, once the proper documentation is recorded.

If the process defined in RCW 58.04 is found not to be an acceptable method to use for establishing the new boundary line location, then the Permitting Department will deny the request for legal lot status. A Boundary Line Adjustment Application  would then need to be submitted to the Permitting Department for approval in order to adjust the boundary lines.

How do I apply for a permit at Mason County?
Applying: How do I apply for a permit?

If you don’t find the specific permit on our Land Use Permits or Building Permits websites, or just want more information, you can visit us for walk-in service Monday – Friday:
615 W Alder St
Shelton, WA 98584

Or call (360) 427-9670 ext. 352

Cost / Fees: What is the cost of a permit?

Planning Services Fees

Permit status: What is the status of my permit?

You can find information about the status of your permit through Mason County’s On Line Permit Search Tool

Building inspections: How do I schedule a building inspection?

To schedule a building inspection, you can use our on-line request form at:

Pre-applications Meetings: Will I need a pre-application meeting?

Mason County Planning Services requires pre-application meetings for commercial development and land divisions.  We also encourage pre-application meetings with our Permit Center for other types of planning projects.  The purpose of the pre-application meeting is to identify and/or eliminate as many potential problems regarding a proposal. Representatives from the Fire Marshal’s Office, Building Department, Environmental Health, Planning, and Public Works Departments may attend the meeting to discuss rules and regulations applicable to the proposed project. Topics covered during the meeting may include the comprehensive plan, land divisions, shoreline program, zoning, availability of sewer and potable water, development concepts, building construction, fire protection and life safety concerns of the proposed project. The pre-submission conference is intended as an informative meeting. The intent is to provide detailed information to the applicant in regards to codes and process.

You can save a lot of time and money by scheduling a pre-application meeting with your Area Planning Services Contact.  Forms to complete before the meeting are available here: