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When a Building Permit is not needed
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:
- Retaining walls or planter boxes which are no more than 4' in height (measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall) and do not support another structure, fence, or take on additional loads.
- Wood or chain link fences not greater than 6' high (or not greater than 3' high if masonry).
- Decks and platforms less than thirty inches above grade and not within six feet of any other building or structure which requires (or required) a building permit for its construction.
- Exterior stairs that are no greater than 30" above grade, and are not a part of an exiting system. NOTE: Some exceptions may apply. See a Permit Technician at the Permit Center.
- Sidewalks and driveways not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade, and not over any basement or story below and are not part of an accessible route.
- Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.
- Prefabricated above-ground pools accessory to a single family dwelling that are less than 24 inches deep and have a maximum capacity of 5,000 gallons.
- Swings and other playground equipment accessory to detached one- and two-family dwellings.
- Single story detached buildings which do not exceed 12 feet in height used as tool or storage sheds, playhouses, etc., as long as the projected roof area does not exceed 120 square feet and does not have plumbing or electricity.
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
- replacing electrical outlets and light switches
These examples are only some of the exempted projects which are listed in various code books. Not all exempted projects have been included. Contact the Permit Center at (510) 238-3443 ADD TTY for additional information.