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Single-Family House Permit

Watch Designing an Addition to Your Single-Family Home on the San José Permit Center YouTube channel! Spanish and Vietnamese subtitles are included.

New construction or additions proposed on single-family properties may need a "Single-Family House Permit" from the Planning Division before a building permit will be issued.  

Projects That Require a Single-Family House Permit

A Single-Family House Permit is required if any of the conditions below apply:

  1. The new house or addition will exceed 30 feet or two stories in height.
  2. The floor area ratio (see below) of the house will exceed 0.45.
  3. Construction will be within 100 feet of a riparian corridor (creek) and the lot is 1/2 acre or larger.
  4. The house or site is listed on the City's Historic Resources Inventory, If the house or site is a City Landmark or in a City Landmark District, instead of a Single-Family House Permit, you will need to get a Historic Preservation Permit. Learn more at the Historic Preservation page. 

Section 20.100.1000 of the Zoning Code details the requirements for Single-Family House Permits. If no Single-Family House Permit is required, project applicants may proceed with securing a building permit from the Building Division.

See the Single-Family Design Guidelines that outlines design issues relating to neighborhood character and compatibility.

Floor Area Ratio (FAR)

  • The floor area ratio (FAR) is defined as the floor area of a house in relation to the size of the lot.
  • 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 the square footage of:
    • garage (attached or detached)
    • basement
    • accessory structures on the lot
    • an ADU (secondary unit)

See the handout on how to calculate FAR and a sample of a FAR diagram.

How to Apply for A Single-Family House Permit

  • Complete the Single-Family House Permit Application. Follow the instructions on the form for preparing an application package that includes plans.
  • Submit the application package in person to:
    Planning Counter
    Development Services Permit Center (see Permit Center Hours)
    City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San José.

Permit Approval Process 

The permit must be approved by the Director of Planning.

Based on the criteria below, the Director will consider your permit application through either an administrative review or a public hearing process. 

Administrative Review Process

For projects that meet all of the criteria below, the Director of Planning will review the application and make a decision. This decision cannot be appealed.


  1. Project removes no more than 50% of the exterior walls.
  2. House will not exceed 30 feet in height or 2 stories.
  3. If including a second-story addition: a) the total second-story floor area does not exceed 60% of the total first floor area, including attached garage floor area, and b) the addition is set back an additional 10 feet from the required front setback.
  4. The front porch will not be enclosed or have a net loss of greater than 10% of the existing porch area.
  5. A project that involves an attached garage must be adjacent to lots that have attached garages.
  6. The roofline, materials, trim, and decoration details of the new construction must match that of the existing house (does not apply to Accessory Dwelling Units).

Public Hearing Process

If your project doesn’t qualify for administrative review, then it will go through a public hearing process. This involves more time and an additional fee to cover public notification of the hearing.

The public notification process is outlined in the Public Outreach Policy for Development Proposals. The neighborhood up to 300 feet around your project site will be notified of the hearing date.

The Director of Planning will allow for public testimony as part of the decision-making process.


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.

This information is also available in a print-ready guide: Projects that Need a Single-Family House Permit.