Building Permits Questions

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IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

NEW! Starting January 1, 2017, the new 2016 California Building Standards (California Code of Regulations Title 24) will be in effect. The standards consist of the Building Code, Residential Code, Electrical Code, Mechanical Code, Plumbing Code, Energy Code, and Green Building Standards Code.  For consideration under the 2013 codes, your project must be submitted on or before December 23rd as City offices are closed the week of December 26th.

Note that after January 1st, extensions for existing applications and permits under the 2013 Codes will no longer be granted.  A new application complying with the 2016 Codes will be required.

 The City will be offering several free training sessions for the new code in 2017.  If you would like to receive information on these sessions or have any questions, please contact us via e-mail at building@san-clemente.org

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What is the purpose of the Building Division?

The purpose of the Building Division is to:

  • Provide fire, structural and safety protection for the occupants of new and existing structures through the use and enforcement of adopted construction codes
  • Preserve the integrity of neighborhood environments resulting in a higher quality of life
  • Maintain a spirit of cooperation with the business community through compliance with license requirements

The Building Division administration includes the activities of:

  • Enforcing State-mandated laws and uniform codes
  • Checking building plans for code compliance
  • Permit issuance
  • Providing customer service at the counter
  • Collecting fees
  • Maintenance of permit records,
  • Plans
  • Preparing reports to State, County, City agencies and emergency responses

The Inspection program includes the activities of:

  • Ensuring building construction compliance with State safety laws and City ordinances through insepections
  • Responding to complaints about code violations, illegal construction, business license inspection requests, and structural damage assessments.

For a list of forms available online, please click:

For an overview of the Building Permit Process, from application, to plan review, and through inspection, please click:

When do I need to get a permit?

Generally, permits are required for all electrical, plumbing, mechanical or structural projects you may want to perform. Installing water heaters, dishwashers, garbage disposals; re-roofing, remodeling, repairing stairs, replacing windows, adding any improvement to your home requires a permit. Building retaining walls, garden walls, patio covers, decks, BBQ’s, pools/spas, water fountains all require permits. Building permit fees are collected to pay for the services of plan checks and inspections to make sure the project meets compliance with building codes and local ordinances.

For information on the current Building Codes and Fees, click here:

How do I get a permit?

The first step is to prepare a drawing or create a blueprint of what you propose to do. If your property is subject to Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R’s) and you belong to a homeowner’s association, most projects require their approval first prior to submitting plans to the City. Your drawing or blueprint will be reviewed by any and all City departments affected by your project. In most cases simple exterior improvements need only be reviewed by Building and Planning Divisions and can often be plan checked over the counter during our walk-in hours. Walk-in hours are 7:30-12:30 in the morning and 2:30-5:30 in the afternoon and 8:00-12:30 and 2:30-5:00 on alternating open Fridays. Your first contact with the City will be at the Building Division located at 910 Calle Negocio, Suite 100, San Clemente, (949)361-6100.

What is the difference between a homeowner and a contractor obtaining the permit?

Contractors are required by law to be licensed and bonded by the State of California. Building Division staff secures the contractor’s current status with (1) the State Contractor’s License Board, (2) the City’s Business License, and (3) Worker’s Compensation Insurance. When a homeowner obtains the permit, he/she will be asked to complete an Owner-Builder Verification form and state whether or not he/she will be performing all the work on the project. If not, the homeowner needs to identify the sub-contractors that will be hired to do the job and confirm their Worker’s Comp Insurance. A homeowner must obtain a Worker’s Compensation Insurance policy if the sub-contractor does not have it. A copy of the insurance policy must be made available to the Building Division before a permit can be issued. State Health and Safety Code states: Building permits are not required to be signed by property owners unless they are personally performing their own work. Information about licensed contractors may be obtained by contacting the Contractors’ State License Board at (800) 321-CSLB (2752) or via Internet address:www.cslb.ca.gov

What forms will I need?

Several forms must be completed depending on the extent of the project. They include: Permit Application; Homeowner’s Verification Form; and Owner-Builder Verification Form (not applicable if a contractor obtains the permit). Building Division staff will help you to understand the requirements of the applicable forms.

How much will it cost?

Permit fees vary based upon what work is being done and are proportional to the scope of the project. You can review the building permit fee schedule to get a general idea of the cost of your permit, however many projects are subject to fees from other Divisions or State surcharges.  Because of this, it is always a good idea to get a cost estimate from the Building Division at (949) 361-6100  before beginning a project. They may also be other approvals and permits required beyond the building permit including those from Engineering Division for grading work and/or from Planning Division for work done within Coastal Zones or where a zoning and/or historical variance or landscaping design may be required.

How do I schedule an inspection?

As long as the inspection request is called or submitted before midnight, an inspection may be performed the very next working day. No inspections are performed during the weekends or during a “closed” Friday. When a permit is issued, an Inspection Record is also issued. This Inspection Record or “job card” states the items needed for an inspection. To request your inspection, you may call our automated phone number (949)361-3366 ext. 9002 or use our online permitting system eTRAKIT . You can also find it by typing in the address: www.san-clemente.org/eTRAKIT. If a job does not have any approved inspections in 180 days, the job is considered abandoned and the permit expires and would need to be re-activated by renewing the permit and paying more permit fees.

Is it less expensive for a homeowner to acquire the building permit?

The fees for a building permit are based on the valuation of the project and will be the same fees whether a homeowner or a contractor picks up the permit. However, a contractor may ask the homeowner to pay for his time spent at the Building Division office.

Can I get a permit for work already done? 

An applicant needs to submit plans and necessary documents for the project as normal. Plans will be reviewed by different departments and once the plans are approved for work already done, the Building Division will issue an “As-Built” building permit. However, much of the work that was performed without benefit of a permit and inspections needs to comply with the current building codes, so the work may have to be exposed for the inspector to see at the site. In addition, some work may have to be certified by a licensed structural or civil engineers prior to final inspection approvals. There may be penalty fees assessed to that project in addition to the normal permit fee.

How long will it take to process my permit?

 The length of time for processing a permit depends mostly on the scope of work being done. Simple walls, spas, underground gas or electric lines, patio covers, re-roofs, window replacement and such can be reviewed over-the-counter. If the project is approved a permit can be issued immediately. Other projects involving large decks, remodeling, additions may take a few weeks to review and approve depending upon the size of the improvement and/or number of corrections that may be needed on the blueprints. New construction of a home or commercial building requires extensive reviews by different divisions (Planning, Engineering, Water/Sewer, O. C. Fire Agency, Public Health, etc) and may require a longer period of time for review. Any required grading work must be done and approved by the Engineering Division prior to a building permit being issued.

How do I contact the Building Permit Department? click here:

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