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Projects That Don't Need a Building Permit

Projects that DO require a Building Permit

Projects that change the configuration of walls, pipes, wiring, roofs, or major appliances typically do require at least one type of building permit.

Learn How to Get a Building Permit and fill out a Building Permit Application.

Some building permits you can apply for online.

Projects that DO NOT need a building permit

Projects that do not need a building permit are simple surface (cosmetic) projects; minor repairs and replacements; and minor site improvements or small structures.

In alignment with the 2016 California Building Code Section 105, here are common projects that do not require a building permit:

Surface and Cosmetic Improvements

  • Cabinet refacing or replacement without changing walls, plumbing, or electrical configurations
  • Countertop replacement
  • Decorative tile installations
  • Floor finishes such as carpet, linoleum, and tile
  • Floor sheathing repairs up to 10 square feet
  • Painting
  • "Non-rated" sheetrock locations

Minor Repairs and Replacements

  • Appliance repairs that do not alter the appliance’s original approval and listing
  • Electrical circuit breaker and fuse replacements (a permit is required to replace a main disconnect)
  • Electrical outlet replacements
  • Electrical switch replacements in existing boxes
  • Faucet or toilet repair or replacement
  • Roof repairs or replacements that are less than 25% of existing roof; do not involve the underlying framing; and occur no more than once in a 12-month period
  • Window replacements that do not alter the window frame, nailing flange, or existing weather protection

Site Improvements and Small Structures

  • Awnings over doors or windows that do not project more than 54 inches in Group R-3 or U occupancies
  • Detached accessory structures of 120 square feet or less and that will not be electrically wired
  • Driveways and walkways not crossing over a basement and not exceeding 30 inches above grade1
  • Swimming pools that are prefabricated and above-ground, holding a maximum of 5,000 gallons and used only at a single-family property2
  • Fences not over 7 feet tall
  • Retaining walls not over 4 feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall

1 Repairs to driveway aprons and sidewalks may require a permit; contact the Public Works Department at 408-535-8300.

2 The filling of swimming pools is subject to emergency drought restrictions. As of April 21, 2015, per Ordinance 15.10.330, no person shall cause, permit or allow initial filling of residential swimming pools or outdoor spas with potable water, or allow re-filling of more than one (1) foot.