Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Permits

The permit process provides assurance that alterations or new installations in buildings are inspected for compliance with all required safety standards as established by local and state building codes. This process begins with obtaining a permit.

Date Posted: November 4th, 2020 @ 10:09 AM
Last Updated: May 12th, 2022 @ 11:03 AM

When Is a Permit Required?

With some exceptions (see below), a permit shall be obtained before installing, altering, repairing, replacing or remodeling any building or structure. If you have mechanical, electrical and plumbing work, you will need separate permits for each of those categories. There is no single MEP permit that covers all three. However, if you are obtaining a Building Permit for a house, duplex, or new Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), then the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical work would be included together under a single Residential Building Combination (RBC) Permit. For example, if you are adding a bathroom, you can include all of the related MEP work within the building itself under the scope of the Combination Permit.

The following types of work are exempt and do not require MEP permits:

Mechanical icon graphic

Mechanical Exemptions

  1. A portable heating appliance, portable ventilating equipment, a portable cooling unit, or a portable evaporative cooler.
  2. A closed system of steam, hot, or chilled water piping within heating or cooling equipment regulated by the code.
  3. Replacement of a component part that does not alter its original approval and is in accordance with other applicable requirements of the code.
  4. Refrigerating equipment that is part of the equipment for which a permit has been issued pursuant to the requirements of the code.
  5. A unit refrigerating system.
Electrical Permit icon

Electrical Exemptions

  1. Listed cord and plug connected temporary decorative lighting
  2. Re-installation of attachment plug receptacles, but not the wiring associated with them
  3. Repair or replacement of branch circuit overcurrent devices of the required capacity in the same location.
  4. Installation or maintenance of communications wiring, devices, appliances, apparatus or equipment
Plumbing icon graphic

Plumbing Exemptions

  1. The stopping of leaks in drains, soil, waste, or vent pipe, provided, however, that a trap, drain pipe, soil, waste, or vent pipe become defective and it becomes necessary to remove and replace the same with new material, the same shall be considered as new work and a permit shall be procured and inspection made.
  2. The clearing of stoppages, including the removal and reinstallation of water closets, or the repairing of leaks in pipes, valves, or fixtures, provided such repairs do not involve or require the replacement or rearrangement of valve, pipes, or fixtures.

Who Can Be Issued a Permit?

  1. Contractors who are licensed by the State of California with a classification appropriate for the work that will be performed and have a current Business Tax Certificate.
  2. Owners of a building or their legal representative.

How to Apply

Most MEP permits do not require you to submit plans. However, you may request Plan Review for an additional fee. NOTE: MEP permits are separate from a Building Permit. That means you must obtain MEP permits in addition to other required permits before any mechanical, electrical or plumbing work is performed. Only projects that are eligible for a Residential Building Combination Permit (e.g., a house, duplex or related detached accessory structure) are exempt from this requirement since they are already included in the scope of the project. Please be aware that MEP permits will not be issued until the related Building Permit (if required) is issued.


Ready to get started? First, make sure you are registered and activated at our Online Permit Center. For instructions, please visit our Planning & Building Video Tutorials webpage.

Apply through our Online Permit Center (must be a fully registered and activated user):


Call (510) 238-3891 or find quick answers through our Permit Questions Portal. You may also schedule an appointment with Permit Counter staff during open hours.

Additional Resources