Frequently Asked Questions

Topic: General Permit Information

What can I do about expired permits and extensions?

I'm planning a new construction, an addition or alteration. What should my permit application documents include?

My building was damaged and requires repair. What documents do I need to get a building permit?

I recently purchased a building and discovered that there were additions or alterations that were never permitted. What should I do?

I have a Notice of Violation on my project. Who should I contact to resolve this problem?

Are there penalties for doing work without a permit? 

Are there visibility requirements at streets and driveways? 

Are wood burning fireplaces allowed in Sacramento County?

Can I request a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy?

Do I need a permit for a Swimming pool or Spa? 

Do I need a permit to build a tool shed?

Do I need an architect to prepare my plans? 

Do I need to hire an engineer to apply for a permit?

Do I need to provide a copy of the construction contract?  

Does anyone other than the County have to review or approve the building permit?

Does Building Permits and Inspection have informational handouts? 

How do I apply for a Building Permit?

How do I start?

How long is my permit good for?

How much will a permit cost?

Is a permit required for a Storage Container?

Is an Apartment or Condominium a Residential or Commercial permit? 

What are Building Codes? 

What are the Construction Work Hours in Sacramento County?

What are the current Building Codes for the County of Sacramento? 

What are the fees and when do I pay the fees for my building permit? 

What does the term "Change in Use" refer to? 

What happens if my permit expires ? Are there any fees to reactivate?

What if my contractor does not want to obtain a permit?

What is a Certificate of Occupancy?

What is a permit? 

What is the Building Design Criteria for Sacramento County?

When is a building permit needed?

When is a Plumbing permit required for natural gas piping?

Where are the permit office locations?

Who can apply for a building permit?

Why get a building permit? 

 

 

What Can I Do About Expired Permits and Extensions?   

Answer:       

If you discover (or we do) that your permit has expired it is important for you to renew it. Permits expire like the tabs on your automobile license plate. You cannot drive a car with an expired plate and you cannot build with an expired permit. To do either is illegal. 

Without a valid building permit you will not be able to complete the inspection of your project. Eventually, the incomplete inspection will show up on your property title report at the County Assessor’s office and may complicate any future sale. 

Fortunately, there are simple ways to fix the problem. The first step is to visit our office and meet with our staff so the exact status of your project can be established. This gives us a starting point. Then, as needed, the permit is reactivated (sometimes with a fee) and the remaining inspections can be completed and your project closed out. 

Sometimes a project permit is started and submitted for design review but the time for the completion of the design review needs to be extended. To extend a permit issuance, while in review, is a matter of requesting that it be extended. Sometimes there is a fee associated with the extension. Permits cannot be extended or renewed more than twice and for not more than two years from their original issue date without the approval of the Chief Building Official. 

For Expired Permit Help call 916-876-6129.

 

Planning a New Construction, an Addition or Alteration; what should my permit application documents include?


Answer:      

It is very important to fully describe your project otherwise our plan review and inspection staff will not know what it is you are planning to build or if it is safe. If the documentation is incomplete or unclear then your permit will not be issued.

 

My building was damaged and requires repair. What documents do I need to get a building permit?

Answer:       

  • You will require the same documents used to obtain a regular building permit but you will also need to include a Fire Report if the damage was caused by a fire. The Fire Report details the extent and nature of the damage.
  • Other types of damage can include flood, earthquake, broken pipes or vandalism.

Building permits issued to repair damages generally have a reduced fee rate which is why it is important to fully describe the work and establish the extent of the damage.

 

I recently purchased a building and discovered that there were additions or alterations that were never permitted. What should I do?

Answer:       

Sacramento County Building Permit and Inspections has a program called ‘As – Built Inspections’. This program is specifically designed for property owners who discover unpermitted work and need to bring their building into compliance with building code.

The advantage of the ‘As – Built Inspection Program’ is that it establishes a starting point from which you can plan any needed improvements to correct problems. We charge a fee for this valuable service which varies depending on the complexity of the inspection.

For As-Built Permit Help call 916-876-6129.

 

I have a Notice of Violation on my project. Who should I contact to resolve this problem?

Answer:       

A Violation Notice is very serious. It means that a construction or an improvement on your property was constructed without a permit or may likely pose an unsafe condition to you and to the public.

For violation help, call (916) 876-8814.

 

Are there penalties for doing work without a permit? 

Answer:
If a violation notice is served on a property for work being done without the benefit of a building permit, the permit is subject to violation penalties.  The penalties are two times the permit fees that shall be in addition to the required permit fees.

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Topic: General Permit Information


Are there visibility requirements at streets and driveways? 

Answer:
Yes, there are requirements for obstructions and visibility at streets and driveways. Examples would be fences and bushes.

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Topic: General Permit Information

Are wood burning fireplaces allowed in Sacramento County?

Answer:
Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District prohibits the installation of any new, indoor or outdoor, permanently installed fireplaces after October 26, 2007 in any residential or commercial building. See the handout below

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Topic: General Permit Information

Can I request a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy?

Answer:
We may issue a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy if the field inspectors in each discipline and the Fire department have signed off and approved a Temp C of O.  A Temporary Certificate of Occupancy is typically good for a period of 30 days. 

More Info: Commercial Request for Temporary Certificate of Occupancy
Topic: General Permit Information

Do I need a permit for a Swimming pool or Spa? 

Answer:
All in ground pools and spas Gunite, Vinyl, and Fiberglass  requires a permit. Any above ground pool greater than 5000 gallon capacity would require a permit. Above ground pools less than 5000 gallons and above ground spas will require an electrical permit.

More Info: Swimming Pool and Spa Documents
Topic: General Permit Information

Do I need a permit to build a tool shed?

Answer:
That would depend on the size and location of the shed. There are building size and height restrictions on tool sheds in order to be exempt from a building permit. 

More Info: Permit Exempt Detached Structures
Topic: General Permit Information

Do I need an architect to prepare my plans? 

Answer:
Residential projects typically do not require an architect to draw the plans.  Depending on the design and scope of work engineering may be required.
Some commercial improvements will require an architect to prepare the plans. See the handout Who is authorized to prepare plans. 

More Info: GI-13- Who is Authorized to Prepare Plans
Topic: General Permit Information

Do I need to hire an engineer to apply for a permit?

Answer:
Permits can be issued to properly licensed contractors and owner/builders who have completed an owner/builder verification form in addition to the permit application. If the work will be done by a licensed contractor, have the contractor apply for the permit in his or her name. 

More Info: Do I need to hire a contractor?
Topic: General Permit Information

Do I need to provide a copy of the construction contract? 

Answer:
The applicant for a permit shall provide an estimated permit value at the time of application. Permit valuations shall include total value of work, including materials and labor, for which the permit is being issued, such as electrical, gas, mechanical, plumbing equipment and permanent systems. If in the opinion of the building official, the valuation is underestimated on the application, the permit shall be denied, unless the applicant can show detailed estimates to meet the approval of the building official. Final building permit valuation shall be set by the building official. 

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Topic: General Permit Information

Does anyone other than the County have to review or approve the building permit?

Answer:
Projects may also require review and approval by the fire, water and sewer district that serve the project. 

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Topic: General Permit Information

Does Building Permits and Inspection have informational handouts? 

Answer:
Building Permits and Inspections has a large assortment of documents and handouts to assist you with the planning, permitting, and inspection of your project.
Our web site also has popular links to State and County departments, many trade and code organizations. There are also links to fire departments, school districts and other building departments outside the unincorporated areas of Sacramento County See "Related Links" section on the left side of page. 

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Topic: General Permit Information

How do I apply for a Building Permit?

Answer:
Building permits can be applied for at one of our four office locations.  Simple Miscellaneous Residential permits can be applied for and paid online.
An example of online permits would be for a Water heater, Heating and Cooling, Sewer or Water line replacement, Reroof. 

More Info: Getting Started
Topic: General Permit Information

How do I start?

Answer:
Complete and submit a building permit application to Building Inspection.  This can be done at one of our for office locations (hours vary) or apply online for simple projects. 

More Info: Getting Started
Topic: General Permit Information

How long is my permit good for?

Answer:
A permit expires a) in two years from the date of its issuance. b) if no work has been started within six months from its issuance, or c) work has started but stopped for over six months. If no inspection progress has occurred for over six months your permit will expire.  Once a permit is in expired status a reactivation fee will be charged to reactivate the permit.  Inspections need to be scheduled until all inspections are complete and finaled. 

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Topic: General Permit Information

How much will a permit cost?

Answer:
Permit fees vary depending on the type of construction, square footage and/or valuation of the project. Fee estimates can be provided over the phone and fee schedules can be provided upon request. Fee calculators can also be downloaded from the Building Inspection web site. 

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Topic: General Permit Information

Is a permit required for a Storage Container?

Answer:
Storage containers, railroad cars may require a Building permit. Planning department approval is required in all instances. Fire department approval is also required for commercial use.  See handout below for more information.

More Info: GI-10- Railroad Cars and Storage Containers used as Structures
Topic: General Permit Information

Is an Apartment or Condominium a Residential or Commercial permit? 

Answer:
Apartments, Condominiums and three or more unit buildings are considered commercial permits. 

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Topic: General Permit Information

What are Building Codes? 

Answer:
Building codes tell what, where, and how buildings can be built. Building codes insure that buildings are built safely and help make the community livable. 

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Topic: General Permit Information

What are the Construction Work Hours in Sacramento County?

Answer:
Noise sources associated with construction, repair, remodeling, demolition, paving or grading of any real property, provided said activities do not take place between the hours of eight p.m. and six a.m. on weekdays and Friday commencing at eight p.m. through and including seven a.m. on Saturday; Saturdays commencing at eight p.m. through and including seven a.m. on the next following Sunday and on each Sunday after the hour of eight p.m. Provided, however, when an unforeseen or unavoidable condition occurs during a construction project and the nature of the project necessitates that work in process be continued until a specific phase is completed, the contractor or owner shall be allowed to continue work after eight p.m. and to operate machinery and equipment necessary until completion of the specific work in progress can be brought to conclusion under conditions which will not jeopardize inspection acceptance or create undue financial hardships for the contractor or owner;

More Info: http://qcode.us/codes/sacramentocounty/
Topic: General Permit Information

What are the current Building Codes for the County of Sacramento? 

Answer:
Building Inspection currently provides plan review and field inspections based on the 2010 California Building code, Residential code, Electrical code, Plumbing code, Mechanical code, 2008 California Energy code, 2010 Cal Green Building Standards, Chapter (Title 16) Sacramento County code. 

More Info: California Building Standards Recognized by Sacramento County
Topic: General Permit Information

What are the fees and when do I pay the fees for my building permit? 

Answer:
Fees will vary depending on the type or permit required, scope of work, type of construction, and the use of the building. The fees for new Commercial and Residential buildings or additions are based on a square foot cost valuation. Alterations to existing buildings such as interior remodels, tenant improvements, window replacements and fire repairs are based on the job value. Job value is the cost of the complete job including labor and materials based on what the contract for the job is. Owner builder or Do it yourself is not considered to be free labor. We base our fees on what a contractor would charge of the job.  

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Topic: General Permit Information

What does the term "Change in Use" refer to? 

Answer:
The term Change in Use refers to changing the use of a building or occupancy.  For an example Warehouse to Office or Retail to Assembly 
A building may have been built with a small office space and a larger warehouse space.  A new tenant may want to turn some of the warehouse space into office. This would be considered a change in use. 

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Topic: General Permit Information

What happens if my permit expires ? Are there any fees to reactivate?

Answer:
If your permit expires without all the inspections being completed or expires during the plan review process the permit will need to be reactivated. Permits that are expired for less than six months will be reactivated at fifty percent of the Building permit fee or Plan review fee. Permits that are expired for more than a six months will be reactivated at one hundred percent of the fee. Reactivation fees are based on the most current fee schedule  at the time of reactivation. 

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Topic: General Permit Information

What if my contractor does not want to obtain a permit?

Answer:
A contractor who does not want to obtain a permit when one is required should raise a red flag. Not only are the penalties expensive (3x the permit cost) it places you as the property owner at a greater risk. Unpermitted work has no inspections and serious safety issues can go unnoticed. Unpermitted work may go unnoticed for a while, however it often times surfaces when you sell your home or a new commercial tenant comes into obtain a permit for new work. Unpermitted work ultimately falls on the owner of the property.  If your contractor does not want to get a permit, find another who does. 

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Topic: General Permit Information

What is a Certificate of Occupancy?

Answer:
A  Certificate of Occupancy is issued pursuant to a building permit for new construction, additions, and changes of occupancy after all the necessary construction has been approved and finaled by the inspector. It is evidence that Building Inspection has determined that the construction was done according to the requirements of the code for the given occupancy to be housed in the building.

Issuance of the C of O may take several weeks to complete, as we may need to collect reports from a number of agencies before the permit is finaled out and a C of O issued. The yellow job jacket showing all the final signatures serves as your C of O until one arrives in the mail.
If there is no change in use to the building or tenant space a new C of O may not be issued unless requested. 

Please Note: We do not issue Certificate of Occupancies for Residential.  Your Job Folder with all Final Inspection Signatures serves as your Certificate of Occupancy for your Single Family Dwelling 

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Topic: General Permit Information

What is a permit? 
Answer:
It is a document that gives permission to do something such as build a project. 

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Topic: General Permit Information

What is the Building Design Criteria for Sacramento County?

Answer:
See our handout below 

More Info:
Topic: General Permit Information

When is a building permit needed?

Answer:
A permit is needed for building a new building, adding to or remodeling an existing building (including electrical, mechanical or plumbing installations or alterations), for swimming pools, sheds over 120 square feet (projected floor area- residential only) or 9 feet in height, water heaters, signs, fences over 6 feet high, patio covers, screen rooms or when changing the use of a building. A permit is needed when altering an existing structure or adding new structures. 

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Topic: General Permit Information

When is a Plumbing permit required for natural gas piping?

Answer:
A plumbing permit is required for the installation of any gas piping.
Except for piping less than 6 feet in length between an existing gas outlet and a gas appliance in the same room. 

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Topic: General Permit Information

Where are the permit office locations?

Answer:
For Permit office locations, please check out Contacts/Hours/Locations web page.

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Topic: General Permit Information

Who can apply for a building permit?

Answer:
An owner, contractor or an authorized agent for either can apply for a permit with a signed authorization letter to act in their behalf. 

More Info: AP-17- Authorization of Agent to Act on Property Owner's Behalf
Topic: General Permit Information

Why get a building permit? 

Answer:
It's the law. State law and County Building Codes dictate how buildings must be built to insure the safety of construction and the use of property. Proof of a building permit may also be needed for project financing. 

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Topic: General Permit Information