Building permit process in the Bay Area

Building permit process

Building permit process for home additions:

  1. We are setting up an appointment to take measurements from existing house first.
  • We drafting an existing residence model and floor plan
  • We drafting a site plan
  • Based on current conditions we then researching how many square feet can be added, what can and what cannot be build and how it will impact your budget.
  1. Meeting with Customer and going over existing plan, existing conditions, sharing ideas.
  • Determine windows and exterior doors locations, understand egress
  • New floor plan options. Bathrooms/kitchen location.
  • Heating and cooling equipment options.
  • Electrical/lighting plan discussion.
  1. Preparing floor plan for the first review.
  • Discussing interior doors location.
  • Recessed ceiling depth and location.
  • Architectural details and custom features.
  1. Preparing pre-final architectural plans and elevations.
  • Discussing exterior finishes
  • Exterior lighting
  • Basic landscaping, walkways and driveway options.
  • Public utilities options and problems.
  1. Preparing final set of architectural plans, elevations, electrical plan, site plan and landscaping plan.
  • Final review of all pages of complete architectural set and get ready for the printout.
  • Full set of pages contain the following
    • Cover page with area calculations and project information
    • Existing site plan
    • Existing demolition floor plan and roof plan
    • Existing elevations
    • New site plan
    • New floor plans
    • New elevations
    • New roof plan
    • Electrical/mechanical plan
    • 2 section cuts of the new building
    • If separate formal landscaping plan is asked by the city officials, then you need to hire a landscaper and work out a plan to propose to the city, then we can attach your plan to our drawings and then submit. We are not providing or recommend landscapers to our projects. We only provide architectural services for proposed landscaping plan, and it will be an extra charge of $200 minimum to draw up a formal Landscaping plan for planning department review. Please note that not many cities asking for formal landscaping plan.

Please note that under standard price only 3 reviews/revisions allowed prior to planning department submittal. Any other changes after 3 reviews have been completed subject to extra charges as defined in a Contract. Any mistakes that you will find on a drawings that is “typo” or just negligent work, will be fixed free of charge. During city approval process 2-3 new sets of plans normally required, so any “typos” or not important little mistakes can be fixed before obtaining a building permit. So we just keep a list of anything we need to change and take care of for next printout.

  1. After city planning department approves the plans we are sending architectural plans to our engineer to work on structural calculations.
  2. At the same time plans will be sent to our energy estimator to calculate Title 24 and prepare, if necessary, Green Building Check list.
  3. Some time we can start working on engineering plans before getting architectural plans approved, as we see how the process go and at some point where is no additional comments from the city is made and Client is not making any last minute changes –plans are sent to our engineer.
  4. Submittal to building department.

On small projects plans are good with just architectural plans, engineering made, and basic architectural site plan. Some cities does not require land survey for small additions, however may require official letter from surveyor prior to calling foundation inspection. Prior or after building department submittals, we will be able to determine if any of the following additional items are needed to successfully obtain  a building permit:

  • Civil engineering (some cities require drainage and grading plan and normally for small projects it’s not required)
  • Soil Engineering (Most cities require it only for new house construction, however it may be necessary for large additions over 1000 sq.ft. or in areas with in Seismic hazard zones)
  • If the addition and remodeling combined are over 50% of the existing house, then the project is subject for Fire sprinklers installation. Then we need to get the local water company to get us a water flow test results, so our Fire sprinkler subcontractor can start working on sprinklers design, as it will be necessary to do prior to building permit issuance. Water company water flow test are not free. They charge between $400 to $1400, unless they have previously made tests, then you can get them free of charge. Fire sprinkler design is free of charge only if contract for construction stage is signed and cost of fires sprinklers trade is included.
  • In some cities you may be asked for a permit from Sanitation District prior to building permit issuance.

In this case they will require you to either install a new clean-out within a property easement or completely replace a sewer line all the way to the main line at the street. City of Campbell for example require only new clean-out to be installed, Los Altos doesn’t require it in easement, just one near the house, where you sewer line come out from the house.

  • After all necessary documentation is submitted, all revisions are made (if any) and building permit is ready to be picked up, then you will need:
    • Pay school fees if the addition is over 500 sq.ft. It is required to pay your local elementary and high school and a fee is about $1.25 to $1.50/sq.ft. Information about what exact school district you are in can be obtained in a city building department.
    • In some cities prior to building permit issuance, city may require you to obtain a demolition permit first and then building permit may be issued only when demolition permit is signed-off on final inspection.
    • To pass final inspection for demolition inspection we need to have the following:
      • In SF Bay Area it is required to obtain another “Air pollution” permit.
      • Fence all trees on site as it was shown in site plan or noted by plan checker in a city.
      • Disconnect gas and electrical and have you local gas and electrical company submit a letter to the city with confirmation.
      • Normally another permit from the city needs to be obtained if we have to disconnect gas and electrical – A temporary power pole permit, because we will need power on site during construction. So, when we need to have to go this route, we simply work with the energy company so they can reconnect power to temporary power pole at the same time when they are on site to disconnect the power from existing main panel. To get that done, we now need to get final inspection on power pole installation first, when inspection is complete, city inspector will fax or email Energy Company the meter release and they can now schedule an installation.
      • When Electric power connect/disconnect is complete then Demolition permit can be finalized.
      • And then building permit fees may be paid and permit picked up.
      • Next phase is construction

We take care of entire process from A to Z only if we have Contract for construction phase signed prior to plans approval in planning department. Client may choose to obtain a building permit himself and also make visits to planning department for application submittals and printout plans and not pay the Contractor fees described in payment schedule above.

If you wish to contact me and discuss how I can help with obtaining your building permit, please feel free to connect via one of the listed options on contact page.