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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need A Permit? (top)

A building permit is required for any new construction, demolition, remodeling, expansion, addition or repair to a structure. Work requiring a permit includes (but is not limited to) additions, swimming pools, hot tubs, trellises, carports, sheds, skylights, covered patios, bathroom and kitchen remodeling, termite repairs, solar panels, accessory structures and most interior and exterior remodeling work.

Construction undertaken without a permit may be subject to a penalty on all required permits and may involve dismantling or uncovering completed work to provide access for inspection. If you are in doubt as to whether a permit is required for your project, contact us prior to commencement of the work.

Who May Apply For A Permit? (top)

Property owners or licensed contractors may apply for a building permit or sub-permit. Contractors must provide a Certificate of Workers' Compensation Insurance. Property owners doing their own work will be required to sign an "Owner-Builder Declaration" stating that they are actually doing their own work and are exempt from the requirement of having Workers' Compensation Insurance, or they will be required to provide a Certificate of Insurance.

How Do I Apply For A Permit? (top)

The first step is to fill out a building permit application form. This form must be submitted for all construction and must be completely filled out and signed. If the applicant is lacking any information asked for on the form, this should be brought to the attention of the staff member accepting the application so that he or she can assist the applicant in completing the form.

For an interior remodeling project, the applicant must submit two copies of complete floor plans with details indicating the proposed changes. Be sure to indicate clearly what is new work and what is existing, what is to remain and what is to be removed.

For additions or new construction, the applicant must submit two sets Title-24 Energy Calculation.  Forms CF-1R and MF-1R are to be incorporated onto the plans. 

Construction work must start within 180 days of the issuance of the permit. If work has not been started and no inspections have been called for in this period, the permit will be declared null and void. The permit may be renewed for one-half the original permit fee if no change in the plans are made, but the renewal process may only be used up to one year after issuance. Beyond that time a new application and full fee will be required.

The Building Official may extend an unexpired permit once for a period not exceeding 180 days on written request by the permittee showing reason(s) for not commencing the construction.

How Much Will It Cost? (top)

Building permit fees are based on a proportion of the total construction cost, including all materials and labor involved in the proposed work. A building plan checking fee is assessed at 65 percent of the building permit fee.  Plan check fees must be paid upon submittal of the plans and application.

Are Construction Plans Required? (top)

If you asked the question, they probably are. In order to approve your building permit application the plan checker or building inspector needs to have a clear picture of your project. You must always assume that someone other than yourself is going to do the construction.  Very minor work, such as dry rot repair, usually does not require plans. Kitchen and bathroom remodels, removal or addition of walls, exterior changes, additions, will all require plans.

What Kind Of Plans Are Required? (top)

All plans must include the name, address, stamp and signature of the architect, engineer, designer or other person preparing the plans. No marked-over or altered plans will be accepted. If major revisions are necessary or additional information is required, the original drawings must be corrected and resubmitted.

Completeness and clarity of the drawings is essential. Remember that the plan checker can only review your plans to the level of the information you supply. Your plans would be considered complete if you could give them to a total stranger and he/she could understand how the building will be constructed and what the finished project will look like. Incomplete and unclear plans can delay issuance of your permit.

Information Required On Drawings (top)

Plan size shall be 18 inches by 24 inches minimum and 24 inches by 36 inches maximum. Plot plans must be included in plans for any work which alters the exterior of an existing structure or any new buildings. Plot plans must show all property lines and lot dimensions. Front, rear and side setback distances to buildings shall be noted along with the building's exterior dimensions. Show all covered patios, porches and roof overhangs. Indicate all public and private easements and underground utility lines. Show proposed and existing gas and electric meter locations. Plot plans should be drawn to a scale of 1/8" = 1'-0" or 1" = 10'-0".

Foundation plans which include a typical footing section must be drawn for all new construction or first floor additions. Indicate the location and size of under-floor access (except for slab-on-grade type construction).

Floor plans must show all walls, plumbing fixtures, door, windows, skylights, major appliances, kitchen counters, furnace and water heater locations. Door and window sizes must be indicated and room dimensions must be shown. Ceiling heights can be noted in the plans or in detail sections. Electrical receptacles, switches, fans, smoke detectors and light fixtures may be shown on the floor plan if sufficient clarity is maintained, or may be shown on a separate electrical plan. Attic access location and size, stairway width, landing size and the rise and run of stairs must be noted. Fireplace location and hearth sizes must be noted.

Framing plans must indicate the sizes of floor joists and girders, ceiling joists and roof rafters or beams, lumber grade, direction and spacing. If you are using main beams, trusses or any unconventional framing, structural calculations and details must be submitted. These calculations and details must be stamped and signed by a licensed architect or engineer.

Floor plans, wall elevations, foundation and framing plans must be drawn to a minimum scale of 1/4" = 1'-0".

Four exterior elevations are required which show windows, doors, skylights and architectural finish features, along with chimney extensions, under-floor and attic venting location and sizes. Height of buildings must be indicated and the daylight plane lines indicated to show compliance with zoning regulations.

Duct work and piping plans will be required to indicate water supply and drainage piping sizes, gas supply line locations and sizes, flue locations and sizes and piping materials. This information may be shown on the basic floor plan if sufficient clarity can be maintained.

Do I Need An Architect Or Engineer? (top)

There are instances when you must have a professional's help on your project. Some examples:

  • When you are constructing a new building or addition in the foothills area (west of highway 280) where engineered foundations are required along with Soils and Geology Reports to substantiate all design assumptions.
  • When the design of your structure requires engineering calculations, i.e. when you are using prefabricated trusses or glued-laminated beams.
  • When the foundation system of your home includes piers and grade beams or caissons.
  • When you are building a retaining wall over 48 inches in height; measured from the bottom of footing to the top of the wall.

There are instances when you are not required to but should seriously consider retaining a professional to help you with your project. Some examples:

  • When the size or the complexity of the project exceeds the time you can devote to it. A rushed job on the drawings or a lack of experience can lead to errors which may be costly to fix during construction.
  • When the cost of the project justifies the expense. Professionals can assist you in accomplishing the design goals using the most efficient methods/materials at a cost within your budget.

How Many Copies Of The Plans Do I Need? (top)

The number of plan sets required is based on the number of agencies that must review your project (Plan Submittal Requirements). One set will be returned to the permit applicant as the "JOB COPY", one duplicate set will be retained by the city, and if the project involves the addition of square footage, one set, by law, must be retained for the County Assessor.

When is a Building Permit not required? (top)

Permits shall not be required for:

  • Retaining walls that are not over 4'-0" in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the   top of the wall, unless supporting a supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II or IIIA liquids.
  • Sidewalks and driveways not more than 30" above adjacent grade, on public property, and not over any basement or story below and are not part of an accessible route.
  • Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery

Exemptions from permit requirements of the California Building Code shall no be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of the California Building Code or any other laws or ordinance of this jurisdiction.  CRC, Section 105.

What do I need to submit for a bathroom or kitchen remodel? (top)
To submit for a bathroom or kitchen remodel permit, provide three sets of plan of the kitchen or bathroom on 11" x17" minimum paper.  Provide an existing and proposed floor plan of the room, and identify on the plan all fixtures (e.g. lights, outlets, water closet, lavatory, kitchen sink, etc) on the plan.  Please see the following brochure for more information, Bath And Kitchen Remodel Permits Brochure.

Do I need a permit for a fence? (top)
A building permit is not required for fences seven feet or less.  However, this does not exempt the requirements specified by the Planning Department.  Please contact the Planning Department prior to the construction of a fence.

How high can I build my fence? (top)
The maximum height of the fence, wall, and hedge is dependent upon the location on the property.

  • Front Yard Setback or within the sight distance area - 3'-0" maximum.
  • Rear Yard Setback (unless this area is within the sight distance area) - 6'-0" maximum.

Do I need a permit for a shed? (top)
Yes, a building permit is required for a shed over 120 square feet.

When am I required to pay school fees for my project? (top)
School fees are required when a project includes the construction of 500 square feet or more habitable space to a structure.  Fees are required to be paid prior to the issuance of a permit.