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Thinking About Remodeling or Adding to your Home? You Need a Permit

Thinking About Remodeling or Adding to your Home? You Need a Permit

The SAFETY of the occupants of all San Diego homes, buildings, and structures is the primary reason for having construction codes.

“Permits” are the way the city of San Diego regulates construction and were implemented to ensure that all construction in our city is safe. The city of San Diego has adopted several codes, among them the Uniform Building code, the Mechanical and Plumbing code, and National Electrical codes. In addition, there are federal, state and local laws that govern construction, such as those covering energy conservation.

You DO NOT require a City permit if you are planning small things like wallpapering, painting or similar finish work; fences six feet high or lower; platforms, decks and walks 30 inches high or less over grade or not over basement, but for MOST other remodeling projects of any kind – You require a City Permit.

If you only have a small home renovation project such as window replacement, moving an electrical circuit or installing a water heater, etc., permits are available from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily at the city’s Inspection Services Office, 9601 Ridgehaven Court, Suite 220, (858) 492-5070.

If you have a larger project like adding additional space, building a second story addition, remodeling a kitchen, converting a garage, etc., it’s best to contact a licensed general contractor, or a full service Design/Build Company to handle the permitting process for you. You can do the work yourself, but you must follow certain regulations. Among them are (but not limited to):

  • Submitting a set of Plans: Plans must be submitted in compliance of Zoning and Code regulations for your San Diego property address. Plans for projects such as room additions can usually be drawn up by qualified individuals such as a draftsman. Other projects may require plans prepared and signed by an architect or engineer licensed by the State of California. A full service Design/Build Company usually has in house draftsmen or sub-contract to professional designers and architects.
  • Workers’ Compensation: If you will be hiring anyone, you may have to purchase Workers’ Compensation Insurance, which is available from a variety of agencies. If you won’t be hiring anyone, we’ll ask you to sign an ”Owner-Builder Statement” to this effect. We can’t issue you a permit without either insurance or the completed Owner-Builder Statement.
  • Build to the plans: Be sure to follow your approved plans, whether they are drawn by an architect or designer or are standard construction requirements given to you by the city. If you change the plans while building the structure, this will cause problems when the project is inspected. If you do decide to make changes, check with the city’s plan review staff or your field inspector.
  • City Inspections throughout Project: It is also your responsibility to call the city for inspections at specific times during construction. You may have your contractor make the call, but it is still your responsibility, as the property owner, to make sure the inspections are made. Inspections are made during certain points in the project, depending on the work that’s being performed. For example, retaining walls require inspections of the footing, after block is laid and steel placed but before grouting, after back-fill has been placed, and when all work is finished. Larger projects can have up to 13 inspections and the project is not complete for legal purposes until it has passed the final inspection.

How long does it take to get a San Diego city permit?

Permit issuance periods vary. Some projects can be fully permitted over-the-counter, meaning a return trip won’t be needed. Some projects, however, require that plans be left for additional review. For larger projects, a City Permit can take up to 3 or 4 months depending on the scope of the project and plan corrections that need to be made for approval.

What happens if I DON’T get a permit?

If a permit (when needed) is not obtained before construction, you will be in violation of city codes and regulations. You will be subject to substantial fines and penalties. You will also be required to obtain permits for the work completed and it must pass inspection- OR, you will have to return the structure or site to its original condition (demo the site), and begin again with a city permit.

How long is a city permit valid after obtained for a project?

San Diego City Permits expire after 180 days if no inspections have been made on the specific project/address it was obtained for.

For any other questions, or for questions for your specific project here is the City of San Diego’s Planning Department’s contact information:

Construction permits are issued at the city’s Development Review Center:

1222 First Avenue.

Call (619) 446-5000 for information or

(619) 446-5300 for appointments only.

Or Email them at

The professionals at Ritz Design Build have been creating designs, plans and obtaining City Permits for our clients for over 50 years. Call us today to “Make your Dreams a Reality….” and do all the work for you.

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7878 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
Suite K
San Diego, CA 92111

phone: (858) 248-9711


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