Building Permits

A building permit gives you legal permission to start a new construction or remodeling project in accordance with approved drawings and specifications. Building permits are necessary to ensure that all buildings meet minimum standards which protect its occupants and neighbors in everyday living situations and in the case of emergencies or natural disasters. NOTE: Permit counters are re-organizing – please see the notice in the About section below for details.

Wet Weather Moratorium on Grading work starts on October 15, 2019


View of downtown Oakland from Frank Ogawa Plaza. Photo courtesy of Aaron Lehmer-Chang.
Jan 14, 2020

New Year Brings Building Code Changes

California's Building Standards Code has changed. Changes to the codes affect all new building permit applications submitted on or after January 1st, 2020. Read our summaries online to be sure you are up to speed on the latest code updates!

Related News »


NOTICE: Permit Counters Reorganizing - Here's What You Should Know

To improve customer service to those seeking project permits in Oakland, our 2nd floor Planning & Building Counters are being re-organized.

Here's what to know during the transition:

  • To receive the fastest and most efficient customer service for submitting and receiving permits at the Building Counter, we encourage customers to make an appointment with a Process Coordinator (see list below).
  • We are unable to make same-day appointments for major projects or multiple addresses.
  • All required documentation must be submitted during intake with the Process Coordinator. Any applications with missing documents will not be accepted.
  • Cancellations for appointments must be made at least 24 hours prior to the appointment time to avoid cancellation fees assessed to the project.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact one of the following Process Coordinators:

How to apply for a building permit

  1. Visit the Permit Center at 250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 2nd Floor Room 2114.
  2. Be prepared. A minimum of four (4) complete sets of plans are required to obtain permits for most projects. Additional sets may be needed for projects which require other permits.
  3. Do you need a zoning permit?
  4. Get a permit! Once you have a permit, construction must begin within 180 days of the issue date.

When is a permit needed?

The activities that require a permit include but are not limited to:

  • Constructing a new building or structure including garages and storage buildings.
  • Adding additional floor area, increasing height or increasing volume of a building.
  • Altering a building such as adding or removing walls, replacing windows, altering decks, changing the exterior appearance of a building, remodeling kitchens or baths, replacing roofing and adding insulation.
  • Renovating a building by replacing interior or exterior finishes. Includes converting rooms or spaces to other uses such as converting a basement to livable space.
  • Repairing a building including damage caused by fire, vehicular impact, fallen trees, water leaks and termites.
  • Demolition of more than half of a building.
  • Site improvements such as decks, fences, stairs, parking lots, grading, pools and trash enclosures.
  • Adding, altering or repairing mechanical, electrical, or plumbing systems including PV and thermal water heating systems, service upgrades and meter resets.
  • Moving a building.
  • Installing or altering signs, canopies and awnings.
  • Installing Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (EV Chargers)

Some minor projects are allowed without obtaining building permits. However, depending upon the project, other permits (planning permits, special activities permits, etc.) may be required. In either case, the construction of such projects should be in conformance with all applicable codes. Some of the projects which do not require a building permit are:

Minor improvements typically not needing a permit:

  • interior or exterior painting
  • installing draperies or blinds
  • installing carpeting or resilient floor covering
  • building store fixtures (display cases)
  • building uncovered concrete patios

For a more comprehensive list of improvements not typically requiring a permit please click below:
Click here for work exempt from a building permit

What types of permits are there?

  • Building– For foundation, framing, windows, decks, wall finishes and other similar items.
  • Residential Building Combination – For houses and duplexes. These permits not only include the building items but also include the related mechanical, electrical, and plumbing items too.
  • Mechanical – For heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment and ducting.
  • Electrical – For main services, subpanels, lights, switches, receptacles and related equipment.
  • Plumbing – For water, drain/waste/vent and gas piping and related fixtures.
  • Signs – For installing new or replacing/altering existing signs.
  • Demolition – For demolishing more than half of a building.
  • Solar – For photovoltaic electric and thermal water heating systems.
  • Grading – For adding, removing or recontouring dirt, gravel or similar earthly materials on a property.
  • PZ – For construction or modification of site infrastructure on private property. This includes parking lots, storm drainage, site utilities and accessible elements that are located outside of the building.
  • Re-Roofing Certificate – For installing new roofing on a building when the work is not directly related to a required building permit.
  • Insulation Certificate – For installing insulation in a building when the work is not directly related to a required building permit.
  • Certificate of Occupancy – For establishing the official approved occupancy/use of a building.

Click here to access our forms page.

What other permits may be needed that are obtained from other Bureaus/Departments and/or Agencies?

From the Bureau of Planning

  • Creek permit – For performing exterior work near a creek.
  • Tree permit – For removal of protected trees.

From the Department of Transportation

  • Sewer lateral permit – For adding, replacing, extending or repairing the main sewage drain line that runs from the City’s main line to the building
  • Excavation permit – For digging in the City Right-of Way such as the street.
  • Curb, Gutter and Sidewalk permit – For installing, replacing, modifying or repairing the curbs, gutters, sidewalks and driveway entrances at the street.
  • P-Job permit – For public improvements in the City Right-of Way.
  • Encroachment permit – For construction in the City Right-of Way.
  • Obstruction permit – For temporarily blocking spaces in the City Right-of Way such as installing scaffolding on sidewalks and reserving street parking spaces.

From non City of Oakland agencies:

EBMUD Private Sewer Lateral Program: EBMUD Private Sewer Lateral Regional Program

EBMUD Water Service: EBMUD Applying for Water Service

PG&E for Electrical and Gas Service: PG&E Building and Renovation Services Guide

Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) Permits for Demolitions: BAAQMD Permits

Contact Us

Map location for Building Permits, located at 250 Frank H Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, CA 94612
250 Frank H Ogawa Plaza
2nd Floor
Oakland, CA 94612

Phone Numbers

Email Address

Open Hours

8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
9:30 AM - 4:00 PM
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM