Building Permit Application & FAQ

Download a copy of theBuilding Permit Application form(PDF).
Download a copy of the Change to approve plans Application(PDF). 
Building Permits can be submitted to [email protected].  
Information on Backup Power Systems (PDF). 
Download a copy of our electric load calculation form here(Excel).

Frequently Asked Questions


Why Do I Need a Building Permit?

Whether we are in our homes, offices, schools, or places of entertainment, we take for granted the fact that the structures that surround us are safe. What we usually don't think about is that most aspects of building construction - framing, wiring, heating, and plumbing facilities - represent a potential hazard to building occupants and users.

Building codes strive to reduce risks to an acceptable level. Building inspections provide the means to verify that the codes have been followed. The building permit is the link between the two. The permit and inspections ensure that your personal safety is protected and that your investment in your home also is protected.

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When is a Building Permit Required?

Most home improvement projects require a building permit. The basic requirements are established by the the California Residential Building Code. Any owner "who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system" is required to make an application to the building department and obtain a permit before starting work. Only a limited number of projects are excluded by the Piedmont Residential Building Code from building permit requirements. Projects that require design review or zoning approval require a building permit even if the nature of the work would not ordinarily require a building permit. We advise you to check City requirement carefully before proceeding. If you are in doubt about whether or not a building permit or design review is required, you should contact the Planning and Building Department at 510-420-3050. This may save you from costly redesigns later on and can guide you towards a project design which fully meets the City's requirements and expectations.  

When in doubt, ask!

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Who Should I Contact Regarding Building Permits?

The city's Building Official is responsible for maintaining Piedmont's standards for both home and commercial construction. This includes review, acceptance and issuance of permits for building projects and periodic monitoring and inspection during the construction process. The Building Official is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to Noon at (510) 420-3062 or [email protected]

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What Building Codes Does the City of Piedmont Use?

The current building codes enforced in the City of Piedmont include the 201 California Building Code of Regulations, Title 24, including the California Residential Code, California Building Code, Volume 1 and 2 and all of its appendices, and the Piedmont City Code, Chapter 5. The City Council may from time to time designate by resolution which edition of the California Building Code is currently applicable, since they are periodically revised. In addition, there are supplemental regulations which the City of California Residential and Building Code. Be sure and review the list before proceeding. The most-up-to-date regulations adopted by the City Council can be found in Chapter 5 of the Piedmont City Code. 

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How Can I Get A Building Permit Application Form?

TheBuilding Permit Application Form is available for download. The Building Permit Change Form is also available for download. Once complete the applications can be sent by e-mail to [email protected] 

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How Do I Submit This Application Form?

Due to Covid-19 City Hall is closed and many services are being performed remotely, including processing building permits. Permits can be submitted via a drop off box in front of City Hall or applications can be submitted by e-mail to [email protected]. If the project is a solar project it should be submitted to [email protected] and sewer should be submitted to [email protected].ca.gov. A confirmation e-mail will follow within 2 working days, if not please follow up by calling 510-420-3050. The confirmation will include details about payment for the permit. Payment for the permit can be paid by dropping a clearly labeled check into the mail slot at city hall, or by requesting an invoice via e-mail. 

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What Supporting Documents Do I Need?

The documentation required could vary from photographs of the current construction to full scale plans, structural calculations, geotechnical report, Title 24 Report, etc. Contact the Building Department at 510-420-3062 for questions regarding your specific project.

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What Drawings are Required?

The drawings or architectural plans required can vary depending on the scope of your project. Contact the Building Division regarding your specific project. Drawings that may be required include:

  • Site Plan - This plan clearly shows an "aerial" view of your house, property lines, adjacent streets and properties and setbacks. This plan is mainly for the Planning and Building Divisions to assure proper setback and other requirements are met. On this plan, it should be clearly noted exactly what is existing and what is proposed to be built.
  • Floor Plan - This plan clearly shows the interior of the building. Walls to be removed, new walls, windows, doors, etc. should all be clearly noted on this plan. Again, as with the site plan, what is existing and what is proposed to be built should be clearly noted. Separate drawings of the existing and proposed conditions may be required to clearly describe your project.
  • Foundation Plan - This plan is required to show size and location of new foundations and footings for your project.
  • Roof Framing Plan - This plan clearly indicates the size of roof rafters and ceiling joists. Typically, roof slope and roofing materials are called out on this plan.
  • Floor Framing Plan - This plan clearly indicates this size of all floor framing members. Floor joists, beam and subfloor size are customarily called out on this plan.
  • Cross Sections - These drawings show the building from a "cut-away" view and clearly illustrate all ceiling heights, wall construction, roof pitch, etc. These drawings should show the relationship of the proposed project to adjacent buildings that may be affected by the project. 
  • Title 24 Energy Calculations - These documents are required by the California Energy Commission to be submitted with your building plans for projects that increase heated area. These documents verify the compliance of your project with Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. The calculations are  computer simulation of the annual energy use by your home. They must be prepared by a professional certified in the use of the computer program. Other forms and documents may be required for the installation of furnaces and water heaters.  
  • Structural Calculations - Structural calculations may be required if your project has modifications to the structural systems. The calculations are to verify that structural elements are adequately sized, and the project meets current seismic requirements. All retaining walls higher than 30" will require engineered design. 

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Do You Issue Over-the-Counter Permits?

All building permits take at least 24 hours to be processed. Private Sewer Lateral Repair and Replacement Permits are usually processed and issued within 1 to 2 days. All other permits are input into the system and re entered into the queue to be plans examined, signed by the building official and then issued. This process is done in order of submission. Covid-19 has created longer than average processing time to be longer than usual. Please check the Covid-19 update page for the current estimation. 

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Do You Issue Demolition Permits?

No, we do not issue demolition permits. Building permits are issued for the overall project which may include the demolition work. Permits are not issued separately for various trades such as plumbing, electrical, etc. 

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How Long Does It Take to Get a Building Permit?

All building permit applications applications, except Private Sewer Lateral permits, take at least 24 hours to be processed. You should allow an average of 6 weeks for the plan check and permit processing. Applications are generally processed in the order in which they are received. Processing time varies depending on the complexity of your project, the level of review required, and the completeness of the application documents. Permits for simple jobs (furnace or water heater replacement, electrical rewiring, etc.) are typically processed in one to five days. However, if additional information is needed, we will usually telephone the applicant for that information. 

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Who Reviews My Application?

Your application will initially be reviewed by the City's Plan Examiner in consultation with the city planning staff to determine if the project meets the exceptions from the requirements for the Planning Department Design Review. If Design Review is not necessary, your documents will be entered into the Plan Check queue. The Plan Examiner will review the application for compliance with the current building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing and other codes. Once the Plan Examiner has completed their review, your application is forward to the Building Official for their review and approval. You will receive an e-mail with forms to complete and return so that your permit can be issued. 

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What Are the Fees for a Building Permit?

The fees are set by City Council resolution and change periodically. Building permit fees are calculated on a sliding scale depending on the dollar value of your project, including labor and overhead as well as materials. They are based on the currently adopted Building Code schedule. The Permit/Inspection Fee, Plan Check Fee, the SMIP (Strong Motion Instrumentation Program) Fee set by the State of California, Digital Archive Maintenance fee and Sidewalk Inspection fee (if applicable) must be paid when your application is submitted. Other applicable fees, such as Title 24 Energy fees are collected when the building permit is issued. Fees are payable by check dropped off to city hall in the mail slot or by card through an invoicing service which charges a 2.9% transaction fee.  

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Does My Contractor Need a License?

California State Contractors License

In California, anyone who contracts to perform work that is valued at $500 or more for materials and labor must hold a current, valid license from the Contractors State License Board. Non Licensed individuals can be hired on an hourly basis by homeowners, but not for fixed fee. You can check on contractor's licenses and obtain valuable information for your project at the CSLB website

Piedmont Business License

Anyone who does business in Piedmont is required to have a current City of Piedmont Business License, including contractors and subcontractors. To obtain a business license, please contact the City Clerk's Office at 510-420-3040. You may also be required to present a certificate of workers' compensation and proof of liability insurance coverage. The application may be downloaded at https://piedmont.ca.gov/common/pages/DisplayFile.aspx?itemId=14252700

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Can I Be My Own General Contractor or Owner/Builder?

"Owner/builder" describes a situation in which the homeowner becomes the general contractor. As an owner/builder, you (not the person you hire) assume responsibility for the overall job. You may contract with licensed contractors for portions of your project as "sub-contractors" for a bid or lump sum basis. You may not hire unlicensed individuals on a bid or lump sum basis for more than $500. You may hire unlicensed individuals for an hourly wage. Your responsibilities as an employer may include such things as state and federal tax withholding, workers' compensation insurance, unemployment insurance and other legal liabilities. There are also limits on the number of owner/builder projects that can be undertaken in certain time frames. For more information on being an Owner/Builder, go to the CSLB website

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Why Do I Need a Sidewalk Inspection?

The City Council requires that sidewalk inspections be done at specified times, if a project's value is $5,000 or greater and a sidewalk inspection has not been done in the past two years or when real property is sold. Refer to City Code, Chapter 18, Article V, Sec. 18.26.
After a Sidewalk Inspection Request form is filed with the Public Works Department, An inspector will inspect the sidewalk. If there is damage to the sidewalk caused by City of Piedmont street trees, the sidewalk will be added to a prioritized list of sidewalks to be repaired at the City's expense. If it is determined there is damage to the sidewalk not caused by street trees, the repairs are the responsibility of the homeowner. The owner has two choices to repair the damaged sidewalk:
(1) Pay the City, at a per square foot rate established periodically, for the City's contractor to replace the portion of sidewalk specified; 
(2) Apply for a building permit and encroachment permit and contract with a private licensed contractor to replace the damaged portion of sidewalk. 
SIDEWALK INSPECTION APPLICATION
Contact the Public Works Department at 510-420-3050 for more information on sidewalk inspections and repairs. 

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How Do I Contact Your Office?

Please call or e-mail if you have any questions before you undertake any project. We are happy to discuss the parameters of your proposed project or answer questions you may have.

  • Call us at (510) 420-3050 during our normal business hours (Monday through Thursday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm)
  • email us [email protected] for planning staff or [email protected] for the building department

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How Long Does My Building Permit Remain Valid?

At the initial issuance of your building permit, it will remain valid for 365 days from the date the permit is issued. Once you have had a successful inspection, each time your project is inspected, the expiration date is automatically extended to 180 days from that inspection date. If the permit is still active, and you have not had a successful inspection in less than 180 days, you may request a one-time free 180 day extension. However, once your permit expires, renewing it requires paying the renewal fee. 

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Do All Building Permits Need Inspections?

Yes. After your permit is issued, a series of inspection will be required. Depending on the scope of your project, inspections may be required for foundation, framing, plumbing, electrical and similar work. The City requires a final inspection on all building permits.

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How Do I Schedule Inspections?

Once your permit is approved, you will need to schedule periodic inspections. Please be aware that there is usually a 2-3 day wait for inspections. All inspections are performed in the afternoon between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Have the following ready when calling for each inspection: address of property, type of inspection needed, permit number, and name, phone number of a contact person.

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Do I Need to Post My Permit on a Window?

No, however, it is necessary for each inspection that the set of approved stamped plans, calculations and the original yellow Building Permit card or digital copy be available to the Building Official if requested. The inspector will check the actual construction against the approved plans and sign-off on the inspection. A Correction Notice will be issued if anything is noted that needs further attention. If a video inspection is performed and you would like proof of sign off of the inspection, please request that a copy be e-mailed at the conclusion of the inspection. 

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Do All Permits Need a "Final" Inspection?

Yes. All work completed under a building permit issued by the City of Piedmont must pass a "final inspection" by the Building Official. Even though a contractor may have taken out a building permit for a property owner, it is ultimately the responsibility of the property owner to see that a final inspection is attained for each building permit. Failure to have a final inspection could result in withholding approval of any future permits. According to City Code, Chapter 5, Section 5.2.3, "the building official shall not issue a permit…until all expired building permits have been finally approved and all work originally done without permits has been covered by a building permit, inspected and finally approved."

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What Will the Inspector Look at for the "Final" Inspection?

The inspector will look to see that all work is done in conformance with the approved plans and applicable building codes. In addition, it is a state requirement that for permits over $1,000 in value, the inspector will need to verify that smoke detectors are located in each area required by the Uniform Building Code and that a spark arrester is installed on each chimney. If you need a brochure on smoke detectors, please contact the Building Division.

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When My Project is Done, What Do I Do with the Permit?

Your contractor should leave the approved plans and Building Permit with you for your files and future reference.

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What If I Begin Work Without a Permit?

If you begin work without the required permit, a "Stop Work Order" will immediately be issued by the Building Official. You will be required to apply for the permit and pay twice the original permit fee. After the permit has been properly issued, you will be required to uncover any work which has been covered so that it may be properly inspected. In some cases, regulations may not permit the type of construction that has been done. If this happens, you may be required to replace or restore the area to its original condition prior to your construction.

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What Is a House File?

There is a file kept at City Hall of every property in Piedmont. The file contains correspondence, reports, architectural plans, etc. from the late 1970's to the current date. Any drawings or plans submitted prior to the time, unfortunately, were destroyed. Homeowners may send an e-mail to the building department to request an appointment during regular business and request to see the file. There are limits on the copying of copyrighted material in the files. 

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I Am Selling My House, What is Required?

Asidewalk inspection is required in conjunction with the sale of real property (City Codes, Chapter 18, Article V Sec. 18.26a.) The fees are set by City Council resolution and change periodically.
A Housing Records Search is required in conjunction with the sale of real property. The actual building permits are filed in chronological order by date applied for and not kept in the House file. Therefore, a manual search is done for permits back to 1907. In addition, we do have copies of the Alameda Country Assessor's Records of 1926. The fees are set by City Council resolution and change periodically. Allow three weeks for the compilation of the Housing records Search. 
An energy score or energy audit is required and a copy must be submitted prior to the sell please see this checklist for more information.

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How is the Amount of a Building to be Demolished Calculated?

Several City of Piedmont codes and regulations require the calculation of the demolition or removal of the Physical Building. The removal of more than 50% of the Physical Building is the threshold for the activation of the provisions relating to new construction versus renovation or remodeling. There are guidelines here from the Building Department for determining the areas of Physical Building used to determine the 50% calculations.

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