Applying for a Building or Grading Permit
The following pages contain information to help you successfully submit an application for a building or grading permit. Our goal is to help you get your permit as quickly as possible. On this page we have tried to explain what you will need to submit, how to submit it, and who else may need to approve it first so that you can submit. Our physical offices are now closed to the public due to COVID-19, so all permit applications must be submitted online. Please read the information below carefully because your project will be delayed if you submit a permit application that is incomplete.
We have two ways to apply for permits: Permits by Email and our ePermits Center. All projects can be submitted via our Permits by Email process. Our ePermits Center is designed for contractors and repeat users applying for building permits for specified types of projects as described below.
Please read the following information to decide which of these two processes is right for your project and learn how to successfully submit a permit application.
All projects can be submitted via our Permits by Email process. All projects that don’t fit the criteria for the ePermits Center must be submitted via Permits by Email. To use our Permits by Email process, you must fill out an application form and upload the necessary plans and supporting documents for your project. In the sections that follow, we will provide the information you need to successfully submit your building or grading permit application as a Permit by Email.
If you are already familiar with our Permits By Email process, please click here to get started with your permit application. If this is your first time applying, or if you need clarification or more information, please continue reading below.
ePermits Center is designed for repeat, registered users, and is restricted to the following project types: residential mechanical, plumbing, electrical projects, re-roof, water heater, HVAC, main panel upgrades, residential and commercial roof mounted solar systems.
Please visit our ePermits Center to determine if your project qualifies, if you would like to become a registered user, or if you are ready to pull your permit.
Did you receive a red Notice to Comply from a
Code Enforcement officer?All building permit applications submitted in response to a Notice To Comply must be processed through Permits By Email. Please continue reading for our current process and requirements for submittal.
2. Preparing to Submit Your Building Permit Application
In this section, we will explain what you will need to gather before you submit for a building permit.
WHO CAN PULL A PERMIT?
The 2019 California Building Code allows for the following individuals to pull permits:
For more detailed information, please see our Who can Obtain a Building Permit (PDF) page. For clarification about who an owner builder is and what is entailed, see the Owner Builder Acknowledgement and Verification of Information (PDF) form.
WHEN DO I NEED PLANS?
Almost all projects require plans. These include, but are not limited to, new structures, demolitions, additions, alterations, interior/exterior remodels, running new electrical, water or gas lines, repairs, outdoor kitchens, pergolas, pavilions, decks, carports, garages, docks, pools, foundation repairs, ADUs, and JR. ADUs, solar, energy storage systems, and backup generators.
Important note: The Building Department conducts plan review and cannot give advice on how to create your plan. We recommend contacting licensed professionals when applicable.
WHAT SHOULD MY PLANS SHOW?
Most projects will require Architectural, Structural, Electrical, and often Mechanical and Plumbing plans. Many details and calculations are also required, often these include structural and Title 24 energy calculations. Your design professional is the best resource to help you have a complete submittal.
PLAN SIZE AND FORMAT
To be successful when submitting your plans, please pay attention to the following guidelines. Incomplete and incorrectly sized or formatted plans may substantially delay issuing your permit.
Please read Preparing Electronic Plans For Permits By Email (PDF) for further guidance.
WHO ELSE NEEDS TO APPROVE MY PLANS BEFORE I SUBMIT?
- You may need your plans to be reviewed and approved by other agencies prior to submitting your building permit application. This may include your city planning department and your local sanitary district or environmental health if you are on a septic system or have a well. What follows is a more detailed explanation of the planning and sanitary requirements.
- Please note that it is your responsibility to make sure you have approvals from all required agencies prior to submitting to the Building Department.
Planning approval is required anytime you are proposing to construct a new building or structure, or are making changes to the use, size, height, and dimensions, or other exterior changes to an existing building or structure.
The Incorporated cities listed below require planning approval prior to submittal for building permit. Below are examples of when each city requires a building permit. Please contact each directly to verify their requirements and current process for approval stamps before you get started. You are required to upload the approved city planning application and approved plans in PDF format with your building permit application.
Certain projects require approval from your local sanitary district. If your property has a septic system and is not served by a sanitary district, you may need to contact Environmental Health Services prior to submittal. Sanitary District staff will review the project plans to ensure there will be no adverse impacts on the sanitary sewer system and no encroachment into a sanitary sewer easement. Please see our Sanitary Districts (PDF) page to determine your district and specific requirements.
The following projects require sanitary or environmental review:
3. Submitting a Building Permit Application
Once you have your plans in the proper format and size, and have obtained the necessary approvals from other agencies, you are ready to apply for a building permit.
See Section 5 below for a step by step guide for how your permit application will be processed.
4. Submitting a Grading Permit Application
Applicants for a grading permit use the Permits by Email process. The requirements to apply for a grading permit are the same as for building permits as described above.
A grading permit is most commonly required if:
1. Excavating greater than 5 feet deep or more than 200 cubic yards. Note: (50 cubic yards in the cities of Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda)
2. Placing fill to support any structure, fill deeper than 3 feet, or more than 200 cubic yards. Note: (50 cubic yards for the cities of Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda)
3. Per County Ordinance Code Section 716-4.202-204, other conditions may also trigger a grading permit. Note for all grading permits involving 1000 cubic yards or more, nearby neighbors will be notified prior to permit issuance, see County Ordinance 716-4.202 (e).
When you apply for a grading permit you will need the following information: Plans and specifications prepared and signed by a civil engineer or architect (unless waived by the county building official for small and unimportant work), and containing the items set forth in County Ordinance Code Sections 716-4.602 – 608.
5. Processing Steps for Permits By Email
Click here to complete your permit application form. This form will be automatically emailed to us upon completion. When completing your application form, you will be prompted to upload your plans (if required) and any other supporting documents. Please note that all documents must be in PDF format. Follow our guide on Preparing Electronic Plans for Permits by Email (PDF)
Download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader PDF viewer
Staff will vet your application within 4-5 business days and either accept or reject it. If deemed complete, you will be notified who your plan reviewer is. If your application is rejected, we will contact you by email with instructions so that you can successfully complete and resubmit your application.
Your assigned plan reviewer will review your uploaded documents for compliance with State and Local codes. Your plan reviewer will then let you know if you need to submit any corrections, clarifications or additional documents.
Larger projects require a plan check fee at the beginning of the plan check process. We will email you instructions for paying online on the ePermits Center website. Credit card and e-check payments are accepted online. After we have confirmed your payment, plan review will begin on your project. See How to make a payment (PDF) and How to make a payment video
The review process may take several iterations of communication between applicant and plan reviewer. All communications and responses during the plan review process will be by email or phone only. If we have comments on necessary revisions to your plans, we will email those to you as well as a link to upload your revised documents.
Once your plan reviewer has confirmed compliance with all State and Local codes, your permit will be ready to issue. Staff will contact you to pay the balance of your permit fees. See How to make a payment (PDF) and How to make a payment video
After payment has been confirmed, you will be notified by email to download your permit card and approved plans. You will be required to provide a printed copy of the permit card and full size approved plans at the permit site.
Resources for Contractors and Owner-Builders
Depending on your project, you may need to submit supporting documents with your plans. Common examples include debris recovery forms, drainage plans, geotechnical reports, engineering calculations, Title 24 Energy calculations, and checklists for generators and solar systems.
- CalGreen Construction & Demolition Debris Recovery Program
- Drainage Plan Requirement Checklist (PDF)
- Generator Checklist (PDF) (required for all generator installations)
- Roof or Ground Mount Solar Checklist (required for photovoltaic permits)
- Title 24 Energy Code Form
Less frequently used forms include:
- Residential Construction Submittal Checklist (PDF)
- Commercial Construction Submittal Checklist (PDF)
- Demolition Permit Requirement - PCBs Screening Assessment Form (PDF)
- C3 Requirements for small projects (PDF)
- C3 Requirements for large projects (PDF)
Revisions After Permit Issuance
- Submit the revised sheets to your plan reviewer. Clearly indicate the permit number, address of job site and best contact information in your email.
- Submit RFI’s and Deferred Submittals to your plan reviewer. Clearly indicate the permit number, address of job site and best contact information in your email.
Contact us at 925-674-7200 for questions on your project. Thank you for your patience as we transition into our all digital permitting process.