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Overview of Building Permits

Last modified: 1/13/2015 11:22 AM

When Is a Building Permit Required?

A building permit must be obtained before you erect, construct, enlarge, alter, move, repair, improve, convert, or demolish any building or structure. This includes decks over 30 inches high, patio covers, sheds over 120 square feet, fences over 6 ft. high, and retaining walls more than 4 ft. in height, measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall.


How Do I Apply for a Permit?

All building permit applications require the completion of an application form and submission of required information. Building permit applications are available at the Building Inspection Office (BIO) counter. The applications and plans should be submitted to the BIO counter for a building code plan check by BIO and a review of land use and development requirements by the Planning Office (PO).

Information regarding the land use and development requirements may be obtained from the PO in person. In order to assist the PO counter staff in locating your site, please provide the Assessor's Parcel Number, maps or plot plans showing the exact site location, property address, and name of the nearest cross street.

Depending on the type of work proposed, construction plans are usually required. The BIO will perform a mandatory code compliance plan check for all submitted plans. Your plans will be forwarded to the appropriate offices for clearances by the BIO. The applicant will be notified if there are deficiencies. Subsequent clearance requests are the responsibility of the applicant. Upon plan approval and clearances from the PO, a building permit will be issued.

Two (2) sets for residential and three (3) sets for non-residential of complete building plans, reports and documents are required for the plan check of the proposed construction. One (1) set will be returned to you as the officially-approved job copy. Plan size shall be 18" x 24" minimum and 24" x 36" maximum. Information described in the subsequent "Plans Submission" section shall be included on, or with, all plans as minimum requirements. All dimensions and scales shall be clearly indicated. No marked, altered or paste-on plans will be accepted. You may be required to retain a registered architect or professional engineer to compile your building plans if plans are inadequate or if required by the Business and Professions Code.

Project Description

Plans should include a description of project and scope of work including; Area (square feet) of new construction, conversion, remodel etc. Note; If the project is determined to be a Rebuild, the project will be classified as a new residence and not a remodel. In that case, building site approval, annexation to adjacent city or other requirements may result. See Rebuild Ordinance in Quick Links.   Excel Worksheet


Fees are calculated based on the size, type and valuation of construction. Plan check and PO review fees are required at the time of plan submission. Building permit inspection, SMIP, encroachment, geologic review and septic system fees are paid at the time the permit is issued. Fees for plumbing, mechanical and electrical permits are paid at the time those permits are issued.

When May I Pick Up My Building Permit?

Processing of your application varies with the seasonal workload and complexity of your project. The plans will be checked for compliance with the Uniform Building Code, Zoning Ordinance, Health Code, etc. Normal processing takes four to six weeks. Any remaining fees, including the building permit fee, are payable prior to issuance of the building permit, as well as school fees, if applicable. If needed, plumbing, electrical and mechanical permits can be issued with the building permit.

Building Codes Enforced include:

2013 California Building Code  (2009 IBC)

2013 California Residential Code  (2009 IRC)

2013 California Electrical Code  (2008 NEC)

2013 California Mechanical Code  (2009 UMC)

2013 California Plumbing Code  (2009 UPC)

2013 California Fire Code

2013 California Green Building Standards Code (CalGreen)

2013 California Energy Code  

1997 Uniform Housing Code

County amendment to the California Building Standards Codes can be found in the County Municipal Code Division C3.

Current California Codes are available at

also check your public library.

Plan Submission

The following information, if applicable, shall be included on, or with ALL plans submitted for buildings and accessory structures:

  1. The Designer's Name: When the drawings are prepared by a California licensed architect or registered professional engineer, that person must wet sign and seal all drawings and calculations as appropriate.
  2. A Plot Plan: Show the outline of the Assessor's Tax Parcel and the location and use of all existing and proposed buildings. Plan details must include parcel dimensions, building setbacks from all property lines, distance between buildings, off-street parking, driveways, sewer lines or septic tank and leach field locations, location of nearest fire hydrant, type of fire water system, percentage of the lot covered by buildings, scale of the drawings, and a north arrow. Also, specify the owner's name, the site address, and the Assessor's Parcel Number. If the street right-of-way to the parcel is not shown on the Assessor's Parcel Map, then a copy of the deed describing the access to the property must be included.

    If you have a septic system, the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) may require that you obtain clearance from the DEH field office prior to issuance of the building permit. An inspection of the septic tank and drainfield may be necessary to provide this clearance. Provide 4 copies of the site plan to the DEH inspector to sign. The DEH inspector will keep 1 copy. Submit the other 3 copies with your building permit application or bring them to the Building Inspection Office when you submit information requested during the plan check and review process.

    Contact Department of Environmental Health (DEH):
    Environmental Resources Agency, Dept. of Environmental Health
    1555 Berger Drive, Suite #300
    San Jose, CA 95112-2716
    (408) 918-3400

  3. A Foundation Plan: Show dimensions and depths into bearing soil of all foundation components. Indicate foundation anchoring details, reinforcements, crawl-space clearances, ufer ground, vents and access. Any foundation system that deviates from the standard foundation system described in the Uniform Building Code shall bear the seal of a registered civil or structural engineer or licensed architect, and have supporting calculations to substantiate the design. Foundation design criteria shall be in accordance with data provided in an accompanying soil report.
  4. A Floor Plan: Show complete dimensions. Include location of smoke detectors, all appliances, heating system, electrical outlets, fixtures, attic and underfloor access, door and window types and sizes (tempered or thermal glass as required), other important structural elements, fire protection in attached garages, and any other information necessary to show that the building will meet all applicable codes. Also indicate the gross floor area of all floors/levels and those to be heated.
  5. Exterior Elevation: Submit elevations of all sides of the building. Show building height in feet, and indicate the difference in elevation between the highest point of the structure (not including antennas, etc.) and the highest and lowest ground elevation at the exterior foundation of the structure.
  6. Cross Section: Show cross sections for as many areas as necessary to completely describe the structural layout. Include details for connections, insulation placement, ceiling heights, and/or other necessary or unusual details.
  7. Framing Plans: Submit framing plans for floor, ceiling, wall and roof framing indicating dimensions, materials, sizes, spacing, and connection details of all structural framing members.
  8. Roof Plan: Indicate roof layout, pitches, slope directions, roof covering, sheathing and underlayment.
  9. Construction Details: Detailed cross-sections of foundation components, anchoring, structural member connections, seismic connections, and other pertinent construction details.
  10. Soil Report: A soil report is required for all new buildings. A soil report may not be required for building additions and remodel work, depending on the extent of work. A soil report shall be compiled by a registered soil or civil engineer and include, as a minimum, the following:

    1. A plot showing the location of all test borings and/or excavations.
    2. Descriptions and classifications of materials encountered.
    3. Elevation of the water table, if encountered.
    4. Recommendations for foundation type and design criteria including bearing capacity, provisions to minimize the effects of expansive soils and effects of adjacent loads.
    5. Expected total and differential settlement.
  11. Manufacturers' Engineering Reports: These are required for ALL prefabricated structural framing components.
  12. Title 24, State Energy Calculations: A Certificate of Compliance (CF-1R) for residential and (ENV-1) for non-residential, with all applicable signatures, shall appear on plans. Provide heat loss calculations or specify the Alternative Component Package used. Show all Mandatory Measures on the plan. For point system or computer method compliance, submit 2 copies of calculations.
  13. Electrical, Plumbing and Mechanical Permits: These are required in addition to the building permit, when applicable. Additional plans, to be included with the building plans may be required for these permits.

BP required/revised 8/00