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Single-Family House Permit
Designing an Addition to a Single-Family Home link to video
Watch Designing an Addition to Your Single-Family Home on the San José Permit Center YouTube channel! Spanish and Vietnamese subtitles are included.
Construction & Remodeling 
On January 11, 2000, the City Council adopted an urgency ordinance amending the Zoning Code to include discretionary review of single-family homes. As a result, a Single-Family House Permit may be required for new construction or the remodel of an existing home in certain circumstances.

Single-Family Design Guidelines have been developed for use by homeowners, builders, architects, and others designers to address issues specifically related to neighborhood character and compatibility, and information contained here can also be found in our Single-Family House Permit brochure.

Application
A Single-Family House Permit is obtained from the Planning Division. Depending on the size and scope of work involved, this permit may go through one of three levels of approval, involving either the Director of Planning (at an administrative level or through a public hearing) or involving a public hearing before both the Planning Commission and City Council

Do I Need a Permit?
A Single-Family House Permit is required if:
  • The house exceeds 30 feet or two stories in height; 
  • The floor area ratio (FAR) of the house exceeds 0.45; or 
  • The house or site is listed on the City's Historic Resources Inventory, but is not a designated City Landmark or located within a City Landmark District. 

If no Single-Family House Permit is required, proceed to the Building Division for building permits. 

Floor Area Ratio (FAR)
The floor area ratio (FAR) is defined as the aggregate sum of all the floors in a house in relation to the lot area. The FAR includes the sum of all the floors in a main structure measured to the outside surface of the exterior walls, including stairwells at all floors, and all areas that are greater than 50% enclosed with walls and covered. It does not include garage square footage (attached or detached), square footage of accessory structures on the lot, or square footage of basements. See the handout on how to calculate FAR and a sample of a FAR diagram.

Demolition

A Special Use Permit is only required if you do not have an approved Single-Family House Permit or you have obtained a building permit for a replacement house.

Public Hearings
If the checklist above indicates the need for a Single-Family House Permit approved by the City Council, there will be a public hearing before the Planning Commission and City Council. If no City Council approval is indicated, the Director of Planning is the decision making body. To determine the process involved (i.e., administrative level or public hearing) with a Director's decision, determine if the issuance of a building permit:
  • Will not require removal of more than 50% of the exterior walls
  • Is for a house not to exceed 30 feet in height and two stories
  • Is for a single-story addition
  • Is for a second-story addition where the total second-story floor area does not exceed 60% of the total first floor area (including attached garage floor area), and the addition is set back an additional 10 feet from the required front setback
  • Will not result in the enclosure or net loss of 10% or more of an existing front porch area
  • Is for an attached garage only if there is an existing attached garage on either side of the subject lot
  • Involves a roof line, materials, trim and decoration details that are the same for the addition as on the existing house

If all of the above criteria are met, no public hearing is involved with the review of a Single-Family House Permit.