A Building permit is required to construct any new structure or improve existing buildings and other structures. The more common building permit applications are for new or remodels to single dwelling units, multi-dwelling units, commercial and industrial buildings, and accessory structures.
Building construction plans and other documents must be submitted for review to ensure that construction projects comply with federal, state and local standards for building safety, accessibility and land use, zoning and standards that help safeguard life or limb, public health, property and welfare. City staff review and approve these applications to ensure all applicable regulations are met.
Before applying for a building permit, review the list of projects in the San Diego Municipal Code §129.0203 exempt from a Building Permit.
What You Should Know
Depending upon the scope of your project, you will be required to select from the following list of building permit record types:
- Building Construction – General for general building construction
- Combination Building – Single Dwelling Units, ADUs and Duplexes
- Building – All other buildings (multi-dwelling, commercial, industrial, all others)
- New: Professional Certification program same day permit for office tenant improvement projects up to 20,000 square feet that are designed by a licensed California architect or engineer. After an application is submitted online, a virtual appointment is required to obain the permit. For more information see IB-150.
- Building Construction Master Plan – for Phased Developments and/or Master Plan Establishment for Accessory Structures. NOTE: Accessory structures such as pools and stairs using the established/approved master plan drawings shall apply for the Building Construction – General permit category.
- Building Construction CIP – for Capital Improvements Program Projects
Building Permit Submittal Requirements
A Building permit is required to construct any new structure or improve existing buildings and other structures. Learn about submitting for a building permit by reviewing the Guide to Project Submittal Process, Section 1.
- Your building construction plans, Calculations, and, as required, Geotechnical Report must be submitted as outlined by facility type:
- Your project may require a historic review to determine conformance with the historic resources regulations if your project is:
- On a site containing a structure of 45 years or more.
- Designated historic.
- In a historic district.
Most historic reviews will be required to submit a photographic survey and a building record from the Offices of the County Assessor, Recorder and Tax Collector. Learn more about requesting the building records.
Quicker Processing Opportunities
The following processing opportunities are provided to allow for quicker processing for eligible projects.
- Rapid Review (formerly Over-the-Counter) is available for more simple projects at no additional cost.
- Express is available for most disciplines upon payment of an Express Plan Check administrative fee plus 1.5 times the regular plan check fee.
- Expedite is available based on affordable and in-fill housing or sustainable buildings.
Plan review, development impact fees, water and sewer, school and inspection fees vary based on the type of building construction project. Please review Information Bulletin 501 for more information.
Review the list of projects in San Diego Municipal Code §129.0203 that are exempt from a Building Permit.
Inspections are required for all building construction projects and occur during different phases of construction. Please review Information Bulletin 120 for more information.
- For resubmittal of projects submitted prior to July 19, 2021, review the OpenDSD User Guide for PTS Projects.
- For new permit applications, review the User Guide – Apply for a Building Construction Permit.
Read the requirements for PDF file uploads.
Obtain or complete the following documents:
- Building Construction Plans
- Follow the Requirements for Digital Plans and Documents, and use the Building Permit Template to create your building construction plans.
- Include the following as part of your plan set:
- CA Title 24 Energy Efficiency Standards Forms (conditional), completed and signed for all projects except interior alterations.
- Storm Water Requirements Applicability Checklist (DS-560), completed and signed for all projects except interior alterations.
- Water Meter Data Card (DS-16) completed for any project that includes new or changes to plumbing fixtures
- Other documents that may be required include:
- Affordable Housing Requirements Checklist (DS-530) completed and signed for all residential projects proposing two or more units.
- Hazardous Materials Reporting Form (DS-165) completed and signed for all non-residential projects (except retaining walls, fences and similar projects).
- High-Piled Combustible Storage Form (DS-164) completed and signed for all new or existing High-Piled Combustible Storage as defined in the California Fire Code.
- Eligibility Declaration (DS-4107) completed and signed for all AB-2234 qualified projects.
You will be required to upload the completed documents from Step 3.
Building Permit Procedures
- Who may prepare Plans, Reports, Calculations, etc?
- Building Permit Application Extensions and Expirations
- Building Permit Utilization
- Building Permit Expiration and Extension
Additions and Modifications to the California Codes
- California Building Code - Chapter 14, Article 5, Division 1 - 36
- California Residential Code - Chapter 14, Article 9, Division 1- 45
- California Green Building Standards Code - Chapter 14, Article 10, Division 1-6
- California Existing Building Code - Chapter 14, Article 11, Division 1 - 17
- Information Bulletin 101 - Building Valuation
- Information Bulletin 114 - Master Plan Residential Phase Development For Single Dwelling/Duplex Units
- Information Bulletin 117 - Building Permit Extension and Expiration
- Information Bulletin 118 - Construction Changes
- Information Bulletin 140 - Residential Addition/Remodel
- Information Bulletin 153 - Building Permit Issuance
- Information Bulletin 185 - Address/Address Change
- Information Bulletin 189 - Partial Permits
- Information Bulletin 190 - Shell Permits
- Information Bulletin 203 - No-Plan Building Permit
- Information Bulletin 211 - Residential Decks
- Information Bulletin 250 - Change of Record
- Information Bulletin 585 - Certification of Occupancy