City of Oakland | Apply for Building Permits

What is the purpose of a Building Permit?

Most projects require Planning approval prior to building permit submittal to ensure compliance with local land use and design requirements. Once your project receives Planning approval, a building permit may be applied for. 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.

When is a Building Permit needed?

The activities that require a building permit include but are not limited to:

  • Constructing a new building or structure including garages and storage buildings
  • Adding additional floor area, increasing height or increasing volume of a building
  • Altering a building such as adding or removing walls, replacing windows, altering decks, changing the exterior appearance of a building, remodeling kitchens or baths, and replacing roofing or adding insulation (certificates required)
  • Renovating a building by replacing interior or exterior finishes. Includes converting rooms or spaces to other uses such as converting a basement to livable space
  • Repairing a building including damage caused by fire, vehicular impact, fallen trees, water leaks and termites
  • Demolition of more than half of a building
  • Site improvements such as decks, fences, stairs, parking lots, grading, pools and trash enclosures
  • Adding, altering or repairing mechanical, electrical, or plumbing systems including PV and thermal water heating systems, service upgrades and meter resets
  • Moving a building
  • Installing or altering signs, canopies and awnings

Click here for work exempt from a Building Permit

What types of permits and certificates are there?

  • Building – For foundation, framing, windows, decks, wall finishes and other similar items.
  • Residential Building Combination (RBC) – For houses and duplexes. These permits not only include the building items but also include the related mechanical, electrical, and plumbing items too.
  • Mechanical – For heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment and ducting.
  • Electrical – For main services, sub panels, lights, switches, receptacles and related equipment.
  • Plumbing – For water, drain/waste/vent and gas piping and related fixtures
  • Signs – For installing new or replacing/altering existing signs
  • Demolition – For demolishing more than half of a building
  • Solar – For photo-voltaic electric and thermal water heating systems
  • Grading – For adding, removing or re-contouring dirt, gravel or similar earthly materials on a property
  • PZ – For construction or modification of site infrastructure on private property. This includes parking lots, storm drainage, site utilities and accessible elements that are located outside of the building
  • Re-Roofing Certificate – For installing new roofing on a building when the work is not directly related to a required building permit
  • Insulation Certificate – For installing insulation in a building when the work is not directly related to a required building permit
  • Certificate of Occupancy – For establishing the official approved occupancy/use of a building

Click here to access our Building Forms.

What other permits may be needed?

From the Bureau of Planning

  • Planning permits – For projects requiring planning/zoning approval, environmental review and/or historic property review
  • Creek permit – For performing exterior work near a creek
  • Tree permit – For removal of protected trees. (Building handles one category, while the others are now handled by DOT)

From Oakland Public Works/Department of Transportation (DOT)

  • Sewer lateral permit – For adding, replacing, extending or repairing the main sewage drain line that runs from the City’s main line to the building
  • Excavation permit – For digging in the City Right-of Way such as the street
  • Curb, Gutter and Sidewalk permit – For installing, replacing, modifying or repairing the curbs, gutters, sidewalks and driveway entrances at the street
  • PX permit – For public improvements in the City Right-of Way
  • Encroachment permit – For construction in the City Right-of Way
  • Obstruction permit – For temporarily blocking spaces in the City Right-of Way such as installing scaffolding on sidewalks and reserving street parking spaces

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