Unpermitted Permit Process

When you purchase or construct a building without the benefit of plans, a permit, and inspections, the structure may not be in compliance with Building Codes and may, in fact, be unsafe. The purpose of the Building Codes is to establish minimum requirements to safeguard public health, safety, and general welfare.  By following code guidelines, your completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, and your friends or future owners. Mandatory inspections complement the contractor’s experience and act as a system of checks and balances resulting in a safer project. 

The Process

The unpermitted permitting process will bring your project into compliance with the Building Codes. The Community Development Agency is committed to helping you with this process. The presentation (available below) walks through the process step by step to help alleviate some of the confusion. Please do not hesitate to contact the Agency with any questions or concerns you may have. The As-Built Construction for R and U Occupancies policy provide an overview of the process and associated requirements. 

Researching Permit History

Understanding what structures have and have not been permitted is the first steps in permitting unpermitted structures. Coming into the office and discussing your project with a permit technician can answer many of your questions and help to put your mind at ease. In addition, you can complete a Records Request to get all CDA related documents on file for your parcel. You can also use the MyNeighborhood Mapping system to find permit records.

Establishing the Date of Construction 

The date of construction forms the basis for the review of your construction plans. For example, if you commenced construction in 2009 your project would fall under the 2007 CBC, CRC, CEC, etc. See this Introduction to California Building Standards Code for a list of code editions. Review the Establish the Date of Construction handout for more information on methods of establishing your date of construction.

Contact the Planning Department or meet with a Planner

Our Planners are ready and happy to assist you as you prepare your plans. They will be able to give you setback information for your specific parcel, land use information specific to your project, and can help walk you through any land use challenges you are facing. You are welcome to come in and meet with a Planner face to face, call, or email for assistance.

Plans and Construction Documents

A complete set of construction plans includes many important parts. The Building Application Handbook provide a complete summary of what is required. You may have been able to get original plans via a records request that are part of the submittal. The construction plans should be substantially equivalent to what is required for a conventionally permitted project.

Applying for a Permit

You can apply for a permit online or in person at the CDA lobby.  A complete set of construction documents is required to apply for a permit. Be sure to provide a complete permit description and all other information required during the application process. Take a look at the Residential Submittal Checklist for more information.

How to Track the Process Online

One of the important aspects of the plans review process is that you are responsible for periodically checking on the status of your application. You will be notified when the permit application has been routed, when all reviews have been completed and when the permit is ready to be issued. Other then that you may have corrections that you can address posted to the Citizen Access Portal. To save time check back frequently so you don’t miss any important information.

The Plan Check Process

The plan check process is similar to a conventional review with a few additional requirements. The first is a scan of the foundation to confirm that the required reinforcement is present. Next, certification that the building is structurally sound is required by a licensed engineer. Finally letters from licensed electrical, plumbing and mechanical contractors certifying that the building meets minimum code standards may be required depending on the scope of work. In lieu of the letters components of the building can be exposed for inspection purposes.  

The Inspection Process

The inspection procedures are detailed in the Inspection Procedures for As-Built Structures handout.


Unpermitted Permitting Process Video

  • Watch the as-built permit process video.
  • Tips to view:
    • Select "open" from the dialog box that pops up.
    • To exit full screen hit escape on your keyboard. 
    • To view the presentation again click on the replay button.