Building Permits & Plan Checks

Once you have the approval from the Planning Division on design and zoning requirements and have prepared plans that meet the conditions of approval, walk over to the Building Division’s counter at the City Hall and fill out an application for a building permit. Usually a call to the Building Division will help you find answers to your questions prior to submittal of plans. 

Table of Contents

Please select an area of interest for more information:

What is a building permit for?

A building permit is a license issued by the Building Division giving you legal permission to begin construction of a building project. The purpose of the building permit is to protect the owner and the public from unsafe construction. Permits ensure that minimum safety standards are met in the design, construction, quality of materials, use, and occupancy of all structures. The building standards are adopted by the State as part of the Health and Safety Code to provide equal and fair treatment of all applicants across the State. As an integral part of our jurisdictional safety network, building officials are dedicated to preserving life and property. The enforcement of building codes will also prevent blight and deterioration of a community. Building regulations are vital to both public safety and maintaining or increasing property values. Building Division ensures that the building codes are met through plan review, permit issuance and inspections. This service saves the owners and builders from costly mistakes and lends the additional expertise of a construction professional to the project.

What projects require permits?

The Codes require that “No building, structure or service equipment shall be erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished unless an appropriate permit has been obtained from the Building Official.” There are some exceptions where a permit is not required. The exceptions include: painting, papering, stucco repair, counter and partitions not over five feet high, replacement of plumbing fixtures where no modification is necessary to the water or sewer piping, and portable electrical appliances energized by a cord or cable having an approved factory attached plug end. As an example, a permit is required for replacement of windows and water heaters, but removal and reinstallation of dishwashers, garbage disposals, and water closets is exempt.

How long does the plan check process take?

Depending on the type of the project, the review process may take few hours to few months. Most accessory projects where plans are provided based on City Standards, such as patio covers, pools and spas, signs, reroofing, masonry walls, security fencing and lights can be checked over the counter and permits issued the same day. We recommend calling for an appointment to make sure a plan checker is available. Projects that do not qualify for over-the-counter plan check or require a review by Fire Authority, Health Agency, Planning or Engineering are processed for standard plan check. Depending on how many plans are ahead of yours, standard plan check will take 15 to 30 business days. Depending on the quality of plans and complexity of the project, it may take more than one or two plan check processes. Once the corrections are made to the plans the subsequent plan checks are completed within 7 to 14 working days.

What are the permit fees?

The City collects a plan check fee, a permit fee and fees for other agencies such as Fire Authority. Plan check fees cover the cost of plan review. Permit fees cover the cost of providing inspections during construction. Fee schedules are adopted by resolution of the City Council and are based on the value of the project as established by codes and valuation tables. Plan check fees are collected at the time of submittal. Permit fees are collected at the time of permit issuance.

Who can prepare plans or obtain permits?

Except one-story conventional residential buildings and minor additions or improvements as defined by code, plans shall be prepared and signed by an architect or an engineer.Once plans are approved, Building Division Staff will notify the applicant. A licensed contractor can pull permits. Owner of the property or his/her authorized agent such as a tenant or an employee with written authorization may pull most permits. For the protection of the property owner from possible liabilities, we recommend that contractors pull permits. Contractors are required to have a valid State License, City business license and worker’s insurance.