WHEN IS A BUILDING PERMIT REQUIRED?
A building permit must be obtained before you construct, enlarge, alter, move, replace, repair, improve, convert, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure. Building permit is not required for certain work such as one-story detached accessory structures (used as Sheds, Playhouses, or similar uses; Accessory Dwelling Units are not exempt) not exceeding 120 square feet , fences not over 7 ft. high, retaining walls not over 4 ft. in height (measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall), etc. For complete list of work exempt from permit see California Residential Code Section R105 and California Building Code Section 105.
All retaining walls, regardless of height, supporting a surcharge (i.e. road, structure or hillside, etc.) require a building permit.
Some work may be permitted via Email. Review the Email Permit Procedures and Application for more information.
Some work may be eligible for Express Plan Check. Please see our Express Plan Check page in order to see if your project qualifies for Express Plan Check, as well as to set an Express Plan Check appointment if applicable.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR A PERMIT - Requirements
- Complete a building permit intake form and bring to our office. Fees will be calculated at the counter. Plan Check and Planning fees are required at the time of application, the other fees are paid when the permit is issued.
- Submit a USB or CD of plans and any other documents as required below. Plan files can be broken out by disciplines - e.g. architectural, structural, civil, and landscape. Review the Digital Submittal Requirements for file formatting requirements. Files are not to exceed 100 MB.
- Submit 2 sets of printed plans, to scale, with a sheet size of 18" X 24" to 24" X 36". Plans must include:
- A description of project and scope of work including;
- Area (square feet) of new construction, conversion, remodel etc.
- Santa Clara County REBUILD Determination and Points Allocation table. Review Rebuild Ordinance for more information. 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.
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, public streets, easements, required setbacks, building distance 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, the Assessor's Parcel Number, the occupancy category, and type of construction. 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.
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.
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.
Show dimensions and depths into bearing soil of all foundation components. Indicate foundation anchoring details, reinforcements, crawl-space clearances, concrete encased electrode ground, vents and access. Any foundation system that deviates from the standard foundation system described in the California Residential 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.
Architectural Cross Section:
Show cross sections for as many areas as necessary to completely describe the structure layout. Include details for connections, insulation placement, ceiling heights, and/or other necessary or unusual details.
Submit framing plans for floor, ceiling, wall and roof framing indicating dimensions, materials, sizes, spacing, and connection details of all structural framing members.
Indicate roof layout, pitches, slope directions, roof covering, sheathing and underlayment.
Detailed cross-sections of foundation components, walls, anchoring, structural member connections, seismic connections, and other pertinent construction details.
Geotechnical (soil) report is required for new structures or additions larger than 1200 square feet. A soil report may not be required for some structures depending on the nature and extent of work. Review Development Services Office Policy B-001 Geotechnical Report
for further information on works that do not require Geotechnical report. A geotechnical report shall be compiled by a registered geotechnical or civil engineer and include, as a minimum, the following:
- A plot showing the location of all test borings and/or excavations.
- Descriptions and classifications of materials encountered.
- Elevation of the water table, if encountered.
- Recommendations for foundation type and design criteria including bearing capacity, provisions to minimize the effects of expansive soils and effects of adjacent loads.
- Recommendation for retaining wall design including soil active pressure, at-rest pressure, seismic earth pressure, passive pressure capacity, wall drainage, stepped wall design criteria, and any other applicable information.
- Expected total and differential settlement.
Manufacturers' Engineering Reports:
These are required for ALL prefabricated structures and include structural calculations and drawings.
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 computer method compliance, submit 2 copies of calculations.
- Mandatory and Tier 1 measures: All new single family residential and duplex not smaller than 3000 square feet.
- Mandatory measures: Additions to existing single family.
CALGreen compliance forms and worksheets such as Construction waste Management Plan can be found at CALGreen compliance forms and worksheets
. The applicable forms including CW-1 form shall be filled out and shall appear on plans.
Read, fill out, and sign the erosion control checklist form
. For projects exceeding 500 square feet of disturbed area, provide a complete Erosion Control Plan showing Best Management Practices (BMPs) that will be used to minimize erosion and prevent sediment and hazardous material from leaving the site (sample plan
). Additional information and details of BMPs are on sheets BMP1
Storm Water Quality Requirements:
All projects are subject to State’s Regional Water Boards and the County’s Clean Water Program for storm water quality requirements.
Professional designers and Architects must sign and stamp plans and calculations.
Obtain local school district(s) clearance (Development Impact Fee Compliance) for additions or conversion of non-habitable to habitable area which exceed 500 square feet. We will provide the form and list of school district(s).
Obtain fire district clearance (Development Impact Fee Compliance) for new structures or additions exceeding 500 square feet, if located within South Santa Clara County Fire District jurisdiction. We will provide the form.
If you have a septic system, the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) may require that you obtain clearance from the DEH Office prior to issuance of the building permit. An inspection of the septic tank and drain field may be required. Provide 4 copies of the site plan for 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 your application for a building permit.
If your project exceeds 2,000 square feet of net new impervious area (roof top, driveway, patios, and concrete walkways) a drainage permit is required.
Landscape permits are required for all new landscape areas of 500 square feet or more. Landscape plans must identify proposed plants, water usage requirements, hydrozones, irrigation details, and water budget calculations. If the new proposed landscape area exceeds 2500 square feet, the plans must be designed, stamped, and signed by a license landscape architect. (Digital copy of landscape plan is preferred.)
Electrical, plumbing and mechanical permits may also be required, when applicable. Additional plans to be included with the building plans may be required for these permits.
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 California Code of Regulations Title 24, 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.
What if I need an extension on my Building Permit or my Plan Check?
If you require an extension to your Building Permit or Plan check, deliver a filled out a Plan Check Extension Form or a Building Permit Extension Form to Reception at the front counter of our office.
Building Codes Enforced include:
- 2016 California Building Code (2015 IBC)
- 2016 California Residential Code (2015 IRC)
- 2016 California Electrical Code (2014 NEC)
- 2016 California Mechanical Code (2015 UMC)
- 2016 California Plumbing Code (2015 UPC)
- 2016 California Fire Code
- 2016 California Green Building Standards Code (CalGreen)
- 2016 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 ICCSafe.org
- also check your public library.