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When is a Permit Required?

A permit is required for projects such as new construction, additions, remodeling, and repairs to electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems. Examples include:

  • New homes and buildings
  • Room additions
  • Enclosures and carports
  • Decks and patio covers
  • Garage conversions
  • Landscape irrigation
  • Retaining walls
  • Window replacements
  • Water services
  • Sewer services
  • Signs
  • Water heaters
  • Fences
  • Fireplaces and fireplace inserts
  • Skylights
  • Sheds
  • Shower/tub enclosure replacements
  • Swimming pools and spas
  • Re-roofing
  • Siding
  • Ceiling fans

If you are a California licensed contractor, certain minor permits are available online. Homeowners wishing to obtain a building permit must visit the public counter.

A permit is not required in some cases. Unless within a design review or preservation district (or a historic landmark), some work is exempt from a building permit as specified in 2016 California Building Code section 105.2, California Residential Code section R105.2, 2016 California Mechanical Code section 104.2, California Plumbing Code section 104.2, and California Electrical Code section 89.108.4.1(b). As a convenience for homeowners who may not have access to the Residential Code, the following is a list of work exempt from a permit per section R105.2:

  • One-story detached accessory structures, provided the floor area is not greater than 120 square feet.
  • Fences not over 7 feet high.
  • Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge.
  • Water tanks supported directly on grade if the capacity is not greater than 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1.
  • Sidewalks and driveways.1
  • Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work.2
  • Prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 18 inches deep. 
  • Swings and other playground equipment. 
  • Window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall and do not require additional support.
  • Decks not exceeding 200 square feet in area, that are not more than 30 inches above grade at any point, are not attached to a dwelling and do not serve the exit door required by Section R311.2 of the California Residential Code.

1 Permits and approval from other City departments may be required. 
2 Related work may require a building permit, such as relocating electrical fixtures to accommodate new cabinets or counters.