Building Permit Questions and Answers

  1. What type of work requires a building permit?
  2. What type of building project can I do that doesn't require a building permit?
  3. Can windows and doors be changed out to improve the overall energy efficiency without a building permit?
  4. What electrical work doesn't require a building permit?
  5. What plumbing work  doesn't require a building permit?
  6. What other regulations may affect my building project?
  7. How long does the review process take?
  8. How much is this building permit going to cost me?

1. What type of work requires a building permit?

Whenever you construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or if you repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, mechanical or plumbing system, a building permit is required.

2. What type of project doesn't require a building permit?

You can do the following without a building permit:
  • Build a one-story storage/tool accessory structure not over 120 square feet of floor area. 
  • Build a retaining wall not over four (4) feet high. The height is measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall.
  • Install playground equipment.
  • Install driveways and sidewalks.
  • Install window awnings 
  • Re-roof, provided the same roofing materials are used and the roof is not required to be fire-resistive.
  • Painting, papering, tiling, flooring, cabinets counter tops and similar finish work.

3. Can energy efficient windows and doors be added without obtaining a building permit?

Yes, if the existing window and door opening width and corresponding window/door header does not change. If the window and/or door width opening needs to be increased in width to accommodate the new replacement window/door, a building permit is required. 

4. What electrical work doesn't require a building permit?

You can do minor repair work, including the replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles.

5. What plumbing work doesn't require a building permit?

Clearing of stoppages and/or repair of leaks in pipes, valves or fixtures, provided such repairs do not involve or require the replacement and/or the rearrangement of the valves, pipes or fixtures.

6. What other regulations may affect a building project?

The following regulations and reviews may also affect the design and construction of your building project:
  • Zoning Code regulations that include building setbacks, building lot coverage, building height, and number of stories and floor area of the second story.
  • The City's Design Review Board regulates all alterations to the building's exterior. 
  • Local CC&R's also govern building design. CC&Rs are enforce through your local established homeowner's association (HOA), not by the City.

7. How long does it take to get a building permit?

Simple permits (no review needed) may be issued over the counter.
Review times:
Commercial tenant improvement:                                              5 – 10 business days
New commercial building shells:                                               15 – 20 business days
Commercial remodels and additions:                                        5 –10 business days
Commercial electrical / mechanical /plumbing improvement:     5 – 10 business days
New Residential buildings:                                                        5 – 10 business days
Residential remodels and additions:                                         5 – 10 business days
Residential electrical / mechanical /plumbing improvement:      2 – 10 business days
New residential accessory buildings/structures:                        2 – 10 business days 

8. How much does a building permit cost?

Some permits are a flat fee, usually to cover the cost for the inspection. More complex projects are based on the valuation of the work being done. Staff will provide you with an estimated permit fee upon request. See our Permit Fee Table and Valuation Tables.