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The Permit Center provides public counter services, permit and plan check processing, and consultation services for local and state code requirements related to the design and construction of commercial and residential structures. For more information, location and hours, visit the Permit Center page.
For an overview of the development process, visit our Development Services page.
Permits are usually required for the following:
- New buildings
- Additions (bedrooms, bathrooms, family rooms, etc.)
- Residential work (decks, garages, fences, fireplaces, pools, water heaters, etc.)
- Renovations (garage conversions, basement furnishings, kitchen expansions, re-roofing, etc.)
- Electrical systems and repairs
- Plumbing systems and repairs
- HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) systems
Certain minor projects do not require a permit. Click here for a roster of minor projects.
How to Apply?
Permits are issued by the Planning and Building Department by both Building Services and Planning and Zoning - Permit Center on the second floor of 250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. This location is convenient to many public parking garages, AC bus lines, and the City Center/12th Street BART Station.
On some simple jobs, a permit can be obtained during the first visit. We strive to handle many of the permits over-the-counter. However, in most circumstances, more time will be needed to review the plans in detail prior to issuing construction permits. For rushed projects, an expedited plan review could be requested on overtime basis.
A minimum of three complete sets of plans are required to obtain building permits for most projects. Additional sets may be needed for projects which require other permits. Staff at the Permit Center can assist you with the requirements for your specific project. Before a permit is issued, a completed application must be submitted.
Zoning permits are also often required, please click here to visit the Application and Zoning Information on the Planning and Zoning webpage for information that may be required.
Term of Permits
An application for a building permit is active for 180 days from the initial submittal date. The applicant, subject to the standard fee structure, may request an extension for an additional 180 days.
Once a building, plumbing, mechanical, or electrical permit has been issued, construction must begin within 180 days of the issue date (or 360 days if an extension was granted). Once the first job site visit has been made, no further extensions can be granted.
The Permit Center offers a variety of land and building development services and information. This is not a comprehensive list of permits and services, but may help give you a sense of the kinds of permits you may need to pull for your project. The best way to find out if you need a permit is to call and discuss your plans before beginning construction. Even if a permit is not needed, we will answer construction questions and may provide valuable advice. For more information, come into the Permit Center, or call (510) 238-3443.
The City of Oakland has numerous residential, commercial and industrial zoning districts. All districts have specific requirements for types of land use, building setbacks, height limits and building materials. A Variance allows a departure from some of these requirements. In addition, new buildings, additions, adding a new unit, and adding habitable space in every zone require some form of design review (except for some instances in industrial zones).
The City of Oakland has numerous residential, commercial and industrial zoning districts. All districts have specific requirements for types of land use, building setbacks, height limits and building materials. A Variance allows a departure from some of these requirements. In addition, new buildings, additions, adding a new unit, and adding habitable space in every zone require some form of design review (except for some instances in industrial zones).Design Review is intended to promote a sensitive and site-specific approach to the design of buildings. Changing or adding new windows requires either a Design Review Exemption or Small Project Design Review zoning permit. Click here to visit the Application and Zoning Information page for Planning and Zoning to view additional information that is required.
Other types of zoning permits include, but are not limited to: Design Review Exemption · Small Project Design Review · Design Review · Conditional Use Permit · Variance · Tentative Parcel Map (Subdivisions) · Parcel Map Waiver · Environmental Review · Planned Unit Development · Tree Preservation/Removal · Zoning Clearance for Business License · Certificate of Zoning Compliance · Rezoning · General Plan Amendment
Building & Trade 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.
Alterations/Repairs · Additions · Banners and Holiday Decorations · Building Moves · Demolitions · Electrical · Mechanical · Meter Resets · Miscellaneous Structures · New Construction · Plumbing · Re-Roofing Certificates
When your construction is going to impact a natural habitat (e.g. a creek) or man-made infrastructure (e.g. a sidewalk) you will need an engineering permit.
Creek Protection · Curb, Gutter, Sidewalk and Drive-way · Encroachments into Public Right of Way · P-Job (privately constructed public improvement) · Public Right-of-Way Improvements · Sewer/Storm Laterals · Site Grading · Street Excavation · Street Obstructions
You can obtain many of these services and permits on the same day that an application is filed. Before a permit is issued, professional staff will review the project for conformance with all relevant codes, regulations and statutes. The timeframe for permit approval will depend on the complexity of the project. The Center provides scheduled pre-application meetings upon request. Call (510) 238-3443 for more information.
The cost of building permits is based upon the construction valuation of the project. Valuation includes all labor and structural materials, and all lighting, heating, ventilation, water supply, plumbing, electrical, fire sprinklers, elevator equipment.
The permit application process involves many services. Based upon the construction valuation, specific and separate fees have been determined for these services. This allows you to pay for only those services your project may require. All fees are detailed in the City's Master Fee Schedule.
All applicable fees are due upon the filing of an application. Payment of fees may be made in the form of cash, personal check, credit card or money order.