Planning and Building Permits

Looking to build something or start a business in Oakland? The Planning and Building Department oversees the use and development of properties within the city to ensure public safety and compliance with local codes and regulations. Find out how to apply for proper permits, get your project plans approved, or seek assistance from one of our expert planners.

NOTICE: Be sure to read the Planning & Building Department's Shelter-in-Place services update.

Welcome to the Oakland Permit Center!

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Permits are required in the City of Oakland either to operate a business or perform construction on buildings or structures. The permitting process will vary based on your project. You may need to obtain permits from the Planning Bureau, Building Bureau, Fire Prevention Bureau, Department of Transportation, Oakland Public Works, the Alameda County’s Environmental Health Department, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, or other governmental agencies. [See "Permitting Process" below for details.]


Depending on the scope of work and the zoning of your property, your project may need to conform with design standards as outlined in one or more of Oakland’s various Neighborhood Plans and Citywide Plans. You can also check the zoning requirements for your property by visiting our Oakland Zoning Map.

Permit Questions Portal

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Have questions?

We've added a new Permit Questions Portal with answers to some of the most common questions concerning our Online Permit Center, Building Permits, Planning/Zoning issues, and the permit application process.

Permit Questions Portal

Apply Now

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Ready to get started?

APPLY VIA E-MAIL:

E-mail Your Project Plans* to permitinfo@oaklandca.gov or, if over 20MB, via our Digital Inbox

* READ: Electronic Submission Guidelines and Digital Inbox Instruction Guide
* NOTE: Your application is "submitted" ONLY after materials are received and all fees have been paid.

APPLY ONLINE (SELECT PROJECT TYPES):

Need some personalized guidance? We've added a new online Permit Wizard to walk you through the process of scoping your project and directing you to all the applications and forms you'll need.

First, make sure you are a registered and activated user in our Accela Citizen Access (ACA) system. Activated users can now apply online for a total of 12 Building permit types, including:

  1. Solar Electric Panels
  2. Residential Building Combination (1-2 units only), Kitchen Remodel and/or Bathroom Remodel and/or Window Replacement; will also include any related Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing work
  3. Residential Building Alteration (3-5 units), including Kitchen Remodel and/or Bathroom Remodel and/or Window Replacement; separate permits required for related Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing work
  4. Non-Residential Building Alteration (6 units and above or commercial), including Kitchen Remodel and/or Bathroom Remodel and/or Window Replacement; separate permits required for related Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing work
  5. Non Residential Mechanical Alteration
  6. Non Residential Plumbing Alteration
  7. Non Residential Electrical Alteration
  8. Reroofing Certificate
  9. Insulation Certificate
  10. Residential - Plumbing
  11. Residential - Mechanical
  12. Residential – Electrical

HOW-TO VIDEOS:

Permitting Process

Getting Started: Before you Build

Most projects — ranging from replacing a window, adding on to an existing building, all the way to constructing a new building — are required to go through a Planning and Building review and permitting process. Permits help to ensure construction work complies with the minimum standards of safety established by the City of Oakland Planning and Building Codes, as well as State of California codes and regulations in order to protect public health, safety, and welfare. Planning and Building Permits must be issued and all associated fees must be paid before most construction, demolition, or repair work can begin. [Review our Master Fee Schedule to obtain initial estimates of the likely permit fees for your project.] In order to provide more responsive service, the Planning and Building Department offers permitting processes tailored for a wide variety of projects, from home repairs to new high-rises.

What Permits are Needed?

Depending on the scope of your project, you may need different permits from Planning and Zoning and/or Building Services. Check on permit requirements before you start the work to save yourself time and money. Please be sure to submit a complete application, including all relevant forms and required documentation. We cannot process an incomplete application. Failure to provide all of the required information will delay the processing of your application. Planning and Building Department forms may be found here.

You may contact the Permit Center by email through our Permit Questions Portal or by phone at (510) 238-3891 where our knowledgeable staff can determine the types of permits, documents, forms, and other project-specifi information that will be required. Most work on your property will require review and permits from Planning and Zoning and/or Building Services prior to any construction, with some exceptions (click here for work exempt from a building permit). In addition, permits may also be required from other City of Oakland departments such as Public Works, Department of Transportation, Fire Department, as well as from other non-City of Oakland agencies.

Planning Permits

Most projects require Planning approval prior to Building Permit submittal to ensure compliance with local land use and design requirements. Planning and Zoning staff can help you determine if your project needs planning/zoning approval and/or is subject to historic property status. They are also available to review plans, resolve issues and authorize zoning approvals. If you are altering the footprint or height or changing the use of a building space, you may need to apply for Design Review, Conditional Use Permit (CUP), variance, or other type of Planning Permit. Once your project receives Planning approval, a Building Permit may be applied for, as described below.

Building Permits

After you have received Planning approval, you may apply for your building permits. The City of Oakland and State of California codes and regulations define safety and habitability standards for the construction and occupancy of buildings and structures. Part of the building permit process may include Plan Check where our engineers review your plans for compliance with applicable codes and regulations.Your plans may need to be submitted to the Fire Prevention Bureau for initial review, or may be routed for concurrent review during the Building Plan Check process. Review times vary depending on the complexity of the project.

During Construction

Once your project plans are approved by both Planning and Building, and the required permits have been issued, construction can begin. Refer to the Construction Ordinance page for information on construction hours, noise, safety and environmental requirements. Building Permits are valid for 720 days, but become inactive if site inspections are not passed every six months.

General contractors (and homeowners acting as general contractors) are responsible for scheduling inspections as permitted construction work progresses so that the Building Bureau may inspect and verify the work being done is consistent with the approved drawings and applicable codes. No work shall be concealed until inspections have taken place and the work has been approved.

All building permit-related inspections must be requested by scheduling your inspections by phone, e-mail, or through our app. The Building Bureau responds to all requests for permit-related inspections on a first-come, first-served basis. When requesting a specific date, please allow a minimum of 2 business days. Please note that during high-demand times, it may take longer than 2 business days to schedule an inspection.

News

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Feb 04, 2021

Planning & Building Department Launches Enhanced Permit Center Services

The Planning & Building Department launched an enhanced online permit portal offering users more choices among application types and services. These updates help to create a more comprehensive way for the community to submit applications for services 24/7, at the applicant’s convenience.

Building Canopy Photo
Dec 16, 2020

Oakland Passes Building Electrification Ordinance

On December 15, 2020, Oakland City Council voted to adopt legislation requiring all newly-constructed buildings to be all-electric, except for attached Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

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