Do I need a permit? What is exempt?

Work Exempt from Building, Electrical, Mechanical, and Plumbing Permits

Below is a list of items that are exempt from permits according to the California Building, Electrical, Mechanical and Plumbing Codes. For all projects except those listed below, a permit is likely required. Please contact the Building Division at 510 596-4310 or at if you have a question about your specific project.

Building (2010 California Building Code Section 105.2 Work Exempt from Permits)

1. One story detached accessory buildings used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet. Planning Division approval required for location. Please contact the Planning Division at or 510 596-4362.

2. Fences not over 6 feet high. Please contact Planning Division for location approval.

3. Oil derricks

4. Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II, or IIIA liquids. Please contact Planning Division for location approval.

5. Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ration of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2:1.

6. Sidewalks, decks and driveways not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade, are not attached, not over any basement or story below and are not part of an accessible route.

7. Painting, papering, carpeting, cabinets and similar finish work.

8. Temporary motion picture, television, and theatre stage sets and scenery.

9. Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to Group R-3 occupancy that are less than 24 inches deep, do not exceed 5,000 gallons and are install entirely above ground.

10. Shade cloth structures constructed for nursery or agricultural purposes (Fire Department approval required), not including service systems.

11. Swings and other playground equipment accessory to detached one- and two-family dwellings.

12. Window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall and do not require additional support of Group R-3, and Group U Occupancies. Commercial properties, please contact Planning Division for location approval.

13. Non-fixed and movable fixtures, cases, racks, counter and partitions, not over 5 feet 9 inches in height.

Unless otherwise exempted, separate plumbing, electrical and mechanical permits will be required for the above exempted items.

Electrical (2010 California Electrical Code Article 80.19 C Issuance of Permits) No permit shall be required to execute any of the classes of electrical work specified in the following:

1. Installation or replacement of equipment such as lamps and of electric utilization equipment approved for connection to suitable permanently installed receptacles. Replacement of flush or snap switches, fuses, lamp sockets, and receptacles, and other minor maintenance and repair work, such as replacing worn cords and tightening connections on a wiring device.

2. The process of manufacturing, testing, servicing, or repairing electric equipment or apparatus.

Mechanical (2010 California Mechanical Code 112.2 Exempt Work) A mechanical permit shall not be required for the following work.

1. Portable heating appliance, portable ventilating equipment, portable cooling unit or portable evaporative cooler.

2. A closed system of steam, hot or chilled water piping within heating or cooling equipment regulated by this code.

3. Replacement of any component part or assembly of an appliance which does not alter its original approval and complies with other applicable requirements of this code.

4. Refrigerating equipment which is part of the equipment for which a permit has been issued pursuant to the requirements of this code.

5. A unit refrigerating system.

Plumbing (2010 California Plumbing Code 103.1.2 Exempt Work) A permit shall not be required for the following:

1. The stopping of leaks in drains, soil, waste or vent pipe, provided, however, that should any trap, drainpipe, soil, waste or vent pipe become defective and in 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 as provided in this Code.

2. The clearing of stoppages, including the remove 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 valves, pipes, or fixtures.

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