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 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 the State of California Building Codes, in order to protect public health, safety, and welfare. Permits are required before beginning most construction, demolition, and repair work. 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. You may visit the Permit Center in-person at 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, 2nd Floor in downtown Oakland, where our knowledgeable staff can determine the types of permits, documents, forms, and other project specific information that will be required. Most work on your property on your property will require review and permits from the Planning and Zoning and/or the Building Services Divisions of the City of Oakland, with some exceptions. In addition permits may also be required from other departments such as Public Works, Department of Transportation, Fire Department, as well as from other non-City of Oakland agencies.
Most projects require planning or zoning approval during the permitting process 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 space, you may need to apply for a zoning exception, variances, or a major planning permits which may increase the time it takes to obtain a building permit.
After you have received Zoning approval, you may apply for your building permits. The City of Oakland and State of California Building Codes define safety and habitability standards for the construction and occupancy of buildings and structures. Part of the permitting process may include Plan Check where our engineers review your plans for compliance with applicable codes and regulations. Plan check usually takes four to six weeks. Your plans may also be submitted for review by Fires Services. Review times vary depending on the project.
Once your project plans are approved, permit fees are paid, and the required permits have been issued, construction can begin. Review our Master Fee Schedule to obtain an estimate of the likely permit fees for your project. Refer to Construction Ordinance page for information on hours, noise, safety and environmental requirements. Building permits are valid for six months.
General contractors (and homeowners acting as general contractors) are responsible for scheduling inspections as permitted work progresses so that the Building Bureau may inspect and verify the work being done is consistent with the permit drawings and the building code.
All building permit-related inspections must be requested by scheduling your inspections at (510) 238-3444. 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.