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Building Demolitions: When and How

Demolition projects that require a building permit include:
  • Full or partial demolition of a building.
  • Removal of detached accessory structures with a floor area greater than 120 square feet.
  • Gutting a commercial tenant space when done separately from securing a permit to make tenant improvements. In this case, no weight-bearing walls may be removed. When demolition is performed in conjunction with tenant improvements, the building permit secured for those improvements also covers the demolition.
  • For other types of demolitions, see our bulletins on Septic Tank Removal Permit Requirements or Swimming Pool Demolition Permit Requirements.

To Get a Permit for Demolition

Type of Demolition Process to Follow
Removal of an entire building Complete a Building Permit Application form and submit with:
  • Plot plan: Show the building site, distances to property lines, and distances to any other structures on the site, such as pools, septic tanks, detached garages, etc. Label all the structures.
  • Indication of non-buildable area: If all or part of the demolished building’s footprint is to become a non-buildable area, delineate the non-buildable area on the plot plan.
  • Indication of buildable area: If all or part of the demolished building’s footprint is to become buildable, do the following:
    • Hire a state-licensed engineer to prepare and wet-stamp a demolition, drainage, and compaction plan.
    • Provide a completed Special Inspection Form that designates the supervising engineer or Special Inspection agency who will both conduct the backfill compaction observation and provide a compaction report for the Building Division, declaring the abated area as a buildable area.
  • Other Clearances: Your permit application cannot be processed until required clearances/approvals have been secured; see sidebar. ALL demolitions require a job number from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD).
Partial demolition of a building Complete a Building Permit Application form and submit with:
  • Plot plan: Show the extent of the proposed demolition and identify how all required exits and life safety features for adjacent tenant spaces will be maintained.
  • Other Clearances: Your permit application cannot be processed until required clearances/approvals have been secured; see sidebar. ALL demolitions require a job number from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD).

Fees and Construction & Demolition Diversion (CDD)

See the Building Division Schedule of Fees for current fees relating to building permits.

To promote recycling of demolition debris, you will also be assessed a Construction & Demolition Diversion (CDD) Program based on the square footage and scope of the project. This deposit is collected at the time of permit issuance. For more information about the Construction & Demolition Diversion (CDD) Program, call the Environmental Services Department at (408) 535-8550.

Other Clearances and Approvals That May Be Required

  • Planning Division - If the demolition is NOT part of a project with an approved permit, contact the Planning Division to secure a clearance. Any structure listed on the City’s historic inventory must have Planning Division approval.
  • Public Works - If you need to store demolition equipment or debris on sidewalks, streets, or parking strips, you must first secure a Revocable Encroachment Permit from the Public Works Department.
  • Fire Department - If fire sprinklers or alarms in adjacent spaces are impacted by the demolition, you must get a project review and clearance from the Bureau of Fire Prevention.

A pdf handout version of this information is available on our Building Handouts and Forms page.

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