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Homeowners can obtain permits and undertake construction themselves once plans are approved by the City however it is advisable for homeowners to work with a licensed contractor during the construction phase of the project.
Any work exceeding $500 in labor and materials is required to be done by a licensed contractor unless solely done by the homeowner.
Always hire a licensed contractor and request his/her license number. You can contact various State agencies to obtain information:
Architects – Contact the California Board of Architectural Examiners (www.cab.ca.gov) or call (916) 445-3394.
Engineers – Contact the California Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (www.dcs.ca.gov/pels) or call (916) 263-2222.
Contractors – Contractors State License Board (www.cslb.ca.gov) or call 1-800-321-2752.
If a permit is not paid for within 180 days of its approval the project is cancelled and the homeowner is responsible for paying the plan review fees. Once the project is canceled the City destroys any plans that have been submitted.
If a homeowner or contractor pays for a permit and does not call for an inspection within 180 days or more than 180 days elapses between inspections then the permit expires. A permit can be renewed one time if it has been less than one year since it expired by paying the City one half of the original permit fees. If the permit has been expired for more than a year and all rough inspections have been performed then a new permit to final may be issued. If the permit was expired without rough inspections contact the Building Official to discuss your project.
The value of construction is based on a fee schedule adopted by the City Council. The fee schedule specifies the value per square foot depending on the type of construction.
Fees for other types of permits such as electrical, plumbing and mechanical are also based on the fee schedule adopted by the City Council.
The State Building Code requires permits any time a building or structure is “erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished…”. That is very large in scope.
There are projects that may not require building permits but may require other types of approval by the City and meet other requirements of the municipal code, such as setbacks and lot coverage limits.
Projects exempted from building permits are:
Single story, detached accessory buildings such as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses that do not exceed 120 square feet in floor area. These structures must still meet applicable setbacks and detached structures may also require a use permit;
Fences not exceeding 7 feet in height;
Movable cases, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches high;
Retaining walls not over 4 feet in height measured form the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless the wall is supporting a surcharge;
Walks and driveways not more than 30 inches above grade and not over any basement or story below. Walks, driveways and landing places must still meet applicable setbacks and lot coverage limits;
Painting, papering and similar finish work;
Window awnings supported by an exterior wall as long as they do not project more than 54 inches from the wall. These structures must still meet applicable setbacks and lot coverage limits;
Prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches deep. Pools must still meet applicable setback and lot coverage limits.
Decks not exceeding 200 square feet in area, that are not more than 30 inches above grade at any point, are not attached to the dwelling and do not serve the exit door.
Swings and other playground equipment.
Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1.
Although the items mentioned above may be exempt from a building permit, they may require separate electrical, plumbing or mechanical permits.
If you have a question as to whether your project requires a permit call the Building Department at (408) 354-2805 or visit City Hall.