How To Get a Building Permit In California

How To Get a Building Permit In California

How To Get a Building Permit In California

Building a home in California is desirable for many reasons: proximity to various beaches, mountains, major companies, and the warm climate. However, before making your dream home in the sunshine state, obtaining the proper building permits is necessary. California has several requirements homeowners must meet to construct their homes.


Before taking any concrete steps to obtain a building permit, you first should visit the website of the city or county of your building site. There are different permit requirements between different states; requirements vary based on the town or county you plan to build within California. By contacting your local building department, they can supply you with a comprehensive list of all permit requirements. 


California Building Permit Success Story: Kathleen's Yuba County Cabin


Kathleen, a recent Design with Frank customer, was seeking to build her retirement cabin in Yuba County, California. She consulted our experts at FRANK on how to obtain her building permit in California, as Yuba County is known for having stringent requirements. Our team contacted Yuba County to inquire further about the details of permit requirements.


Kathleen owns a beautiful two-acre property and wanted to construct a one-bedroom cabin to enjoy her retirement. After some consultation with our team, she selected FRANK" s mini one-bedroom design for a cabin roughly 1,000 square feet.


Kathleen purchased the full construction set with FRANK, and our experts were able to help her customize her home design to her individual needs. She wanted the cabin to be designed for easy access that would age gracefully with her. Our team also added a sprinkler system, changed the exterior to fiber cement boards, and developed it on slab on grade foundation. FRANK also provided her with a site plan for the entirety of her property.


After customizing her design and site plan, FRANK put Kathleen in touch with a local structural engineer, Mr. Kim, in the Los Angeles area to provide her with an engineering license stamp. Mr. Kim holds a structural engineering certificate in several states, including California, Oregon, and Washington. FRANK also connected Kathleen with a resource to obtain her Title 24 energy report, another requirement for a California building permit.


Kathleen submitted all her documents to the Yuba County Building Department. Shortly after that, she was approved to construct her long-awaited cabin. Kathleen was ecstatic at how informative and helpful the design process was with FRANK


Documents to Have Before Your Permit Application

Your permit application should describe the entirety of the work to be covered, the dwelling address, the valuation of your proposed home, and any additional information your county or city requires, and be signed by the permittee or an authorized agent.

Generally, the state of California will require the following components before applying for a building permit:


  • Professionally drawn blueprint
  • Site plan 
  • ​​Floor Plan
  • Foundation Plan
  • Soil Inspection and Land Survey 
  • Architect License (Required for homes over 3,000 sq ft. And 2 stories)
  • Engineering Licence Stamp
  • ​​​Manufacturers' Engineering Reports (Truss)
  • Title 24, State Energy Calculations


Due to California's susceptibility to wildfires, when a home is sold or constructed in a high or very high fire hazard severity zone, California requires a compliant Defensible Space Inspection. This requires residents of California to provide and maintain a defensible space of at least 100 feet around all structures. You can view the Fire Hazard Severity Zones here


Considering fire-resistant materials in your design may also be in your best interest to ensure your home has proper protection against wildfires. Materials like brick, concrete, fire-resistant glass, metal, and stucco would be good candidates to consider incorporating into your home for optimal defense against fire.  


Cost of Permits In California 

California does not mandate state-wide pricing for permits. Instead, each city and county decide the permit costs its residents will pay. Additionally, the California Building Standards Commission requires a surcharge for building permits from each city or county. 


When you obtain your drawing from FRANK, our experts will verify that your design matches the building department code. Additionally, FRANK can provide CAD files to local engineers in California, who will stamp your projects when an engineer stamp is required.


Contact FRANK today to work with an expert to prepare your build plan. FRANK can adjust your home design to comply with all of your county or city's requirements, ensuring a smooth, accurate, and hassle-free process.