When is a Permit Required?

A permit is required for any new building, addition, alteration, repair, or change in use for an existing building or structure, and for site improvements.

A building permit is not required for the following:

  • One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 sq. ft. Consult the Planning Division for setback requirements and height restrictions.
  • Fences not over 7 feet high
  • Oil derricks
  • Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II or IIIA liquids
  • Water tanks supported directly on grade of the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2:1
  • Sidewalks not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade, and not over any basement or story below and are not part of an accessible route
  • Painting, papering, carpeting, and similar finish work
  • Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery
  • Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R-3 occupancy that are less than 24 inches deep, do not exceed 5,000 gallons, and are installed entirely above ground
  • Swings and other playground equipment accessory to detached 1 and 2-family dwellings
  • Residential (Group R-3 and U occupancies) window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54" from the exterior wall and do not require additional support 
  • Non-fixed and movable fixtures, cases, racks, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches in height
  • Decks not exceeding 200 sq. ft. in area, that are not more than 30 inches above grade at any point, are not attached to a dwelling and do not service the exit door required by Section R311.4 of the Residential Building Code.  
  • Replacing damaged wood for a patio or deck if replacement is limited to not more than 24 sq. ft., and if identical members are used (when guardrails are not being replaced and when a permit was required originally).

If you are still unsure, the best way to determine if a proposed project does not require a permit is to contact the Building Division at 408-778-6480 or via email.

Exemption from the permit requirements of this code shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of other laws or ordinances.