Building Permit FAQ's & Information
FAQ's & Quick Links
- The Benefits of Obtaining Building Permits
- What is a building permit?
- When do you need a Permit?
- Required 12.24.010
- When are permits usually required?
- When are permits not required?
- What is the building permit process?
- Appeals Procedure
- Building Design Criteria
- Transition from the 2001 CBC to the 2007 CBC for R-3 Occupancies
- Wildland Urban Interface Construction
- Alternate Materials and Methods Request
- Required Contents for Plot Plans
- Questions Regarding Inspections or General Building Code Requirements
- Permit Status Inquiries
- Temporary Occupancy Requirements
You will protect the outcome and investment value of your construction project and guard against a lawsuit or injury by obtaining building permits. The following information describes simple steps you can take to obtain a building permit and how permits can work for you. You’ll be surprised at how easy the whole process is.
Building permits are very beneficial to you and your community. By working with an expert code official, you will benefit from their knowledge of building codes to ensure your construction project is built right, will be safe and will last.
A building permit gives you legal permission to start construction of a building project in accordance with approved drawings and specifications.
The best way to find out if you need a permit is to call your local building department. Discuss your plans with the code official before beginning construction to determine whether you need a permit. Even if a permit is not needed, the code official will answer construction questions and may provide valuable advice.
It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to erect, construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, improve, remove, convert, or demolish any building or structure; or install a mobile home; or to install or alter any plumbing or electrical wiring or fixtures therein in the unincorporated territory of Lassen County subject to regulations of this article without having first obtained a building permit therefore from the Lassen County building inspector (Ord. 427 § 5(A), 1977: Ord. 416 § 5(A), 1974: Ord. 369 § 5(a), 1965)
- New buildings, including the placement of manufactured homes
- Additions (bedrooms, bathrooms, family rooms, etc.)
- Residential work (decks, garages, fences, fireplaces, pools, water heaters, etc.)
- Renovations (garage conversions, basement conversions, kitchen expansions, re-roofing, siding, etc.)
- Electrical systems
- Plumbing systems
- HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) systems
Your home or business is an investment. If your construction project does not comply with the codes adopted by your community, the value of your investment could be reduced. Property insurers may not cover work done without permits and inspections. If you decide to sell a home or building that has had modifications without a permit, you may be required to tear down the addition, leave it unoccupied or make costly repairs.
A property owner who can show that code requirements were strictly and consistently met, as demonstrated by a code official’s carefully maintained records, has a strong ally if something happens to trigger a potentially destructive lawsuit.
Your permit also allows the code official to protect the public by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction and ensuring public health, safety and welfare. By following code guidelines, the completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, your friends or future owners.
- 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.
- Fences not over 6 feet high.
- Oil derricks.
- Movable cases, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches high.
- 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 III-A-liquids.
- Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2:1.
- Platforms, walks and driveways not more than 30 inches above grade and not over any basement or story below.
- Painting, papering and similar finish work.
- Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery. Window awnings supported by an exterior wall of Group R, Division 3, and Group U Occupancies when projecting not more than 54 inches.
- Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R, Division 3 Occupancy in which the pool walls are entirely above the adjacent grade and if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons.
- State-owned buildings under the jurisdiction of the state fire marshal.
Unless otherwise exempted, separate plumbing, electrical and mechanical permits will be required for the above-exempted items.
Exemption from the permit requirements of this code shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of this code or any other laws or ordinances of this jurisdiction
- Talk to Your Local Code Official
- Submit Application
- Review Process
- Receive Permit
- Job-site Visits
- Final Approval
Your code official wants your project to be a success and will help you avoid potential problems that could cost you time and money. You will be asked some basic questions (What are you planning to do? Where?), advised of any requirements, and, if necessary, referred to other departments for their approval. The code official will provide you with the resources and information needed for compliance with the applicable building codes. You will then receive an application for a building permit.
At this stage you will document the “Who, What, When, Where and How” of the job, along with any sketches or plans of the proposed work.
In a brief amount of time, the code official will review your plans and determine if your project is in compliance with local requirements. If your plans meet these requirements, a permit is issued. If not, the code official may suggest solutions to help correct the problem.
Now that you have been approved for a permit, you have legal permission to start construction. A fee, based on the size of the job, is collected to cover the cost of the application, the review and the inspection process. An experienced code official is available to you should you have any question concerning your project. You should consider your code official as an ally who will help you make your project a success.
On-site inspections will be required to make certain the work conforms to the permit, local codes and plans. Again, you will have access to the expertise of the code official to help you with questions or concerns regarding the project and to minimize potentially costly mistakes. The code official will let you know approximately how many inspections may be needed for your project. Usually, a one day notice is needed when requesting visits.
The code official will provide documentation when construction is complete and code compliance is determined. You will then have the personal satisfaction of a job done right. Enjoy your new surroundings with the peace of mind and the knowledge that they meet the safety standards in your community.
If takes everyone in a community to keep our homes, schools, offices, stores and other buildings safe for public use. Your safe construction practices help protect you, your family, your friends and your investment. Be sure to get your local code official involved with your project, because the Building Division is an important ally, from start to finish.
Any person wishing to appeal and order, decision or determination made by the building official may file with the secretary of the board of appeals within ten days of such order, decision or determination, a written appeal specifically setting forth the grounds for appeal. The secretary of the board of appeals shall set a hearing date and convene the board of appeals within thirty days of receiving an appeal request. The secretary of the board of appeals shall give notice to the appellant at least ten days prior to the hearing. Said board shall render its decision and a copy of the decision shall be mailed to the appellant within thirty days after the hearing is closed. (Ord. 546, 2002)
- Seismic Zone - D
- Wind Exposure - "C" at 85 mph
- Frost Line - 18 inches below finish grade.
- Snow Load - varies throughout the county. Contact us with your assessors parcel number (APN) and the property address to determine the snow load for your area.
General - Major Changes
- Non-structural information is no longer provided in one volume only. In order to properly design projects, both 2007 CBC Volumes 1 and 2 will be required.
- Only one exit is required from R-3 Occupancy. CBC 1019.2 (item 2)
- Spiral stairs may be used as a means of egress in dwelling units with no limitations. CBC 1009.8
Exterior Wall and Opening Protection (CBC 704, 704.8, 704.11 and Table 602)
- One hour exterior wall required when wall is located less that 5 feet from the property line.
- Opening in exterior walls are not permitted at 3 feet and closer to the property line.
- Maximum of 25 percent of protected and unprotected openings for walls located at 5 feet and closer the property line.
Garage/Living Space Separation (CBC 406.1.4, Exp 1)
- 1/2 inch gypsum board from foundation to roof sheathing on the garage side at separation wall between garage and residence.
- 5/8 inch Type "X" gypsum board on ceilings and supporting members (i.e. beams, columns and bearing walls) where living areas are above or ceilings are used as the separation.
- Kitchen requires minimum 50 square feet floor area. CBC 1208.3
- Kitchen requires clear passageway of not less than 3 feet between the counter fronts and appliances or counter fronts and walls. CBC 1208.1
- Emergency escape windows permit 5 square feet minimum for grade-floor openings. CBC 1026
- Minimum 44 inch height for emergency escape windows is now measured to the bottom of the clear opening of the window, not the sill height. CBC 1026
- Natural light requirements are now an area of not less than 8 percent of the floor area of the room. CBC 1205
- Artificial light may be used in lieu of natural light. An average illumination of 10 foot candles over the area of the room at a height of 30 inches is required. CBC 1205.3
- All interior and exterior stairways require an illumination level on stair tread runs of not less than 1 foot candle. CBC 1205.4
- Natural ventilation requirements are now an area of not less than 4 percent of the floor area of the room. CBC 1203.4.1
- Attic access minimum size is reduced to a 20 inch x 30 inch minimum. CBC 1209.2
- Habitable space heating requirements have been reduced to heating systems capable of maintaining a minimum indoor temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. CBC 1204.1
- Bathrooms containing bathtubs and showers must be mechanically ventilated. There are no longer exceptions for natural ventilation in lieu of mechanical. CBC 118.104.22.168
- Minimum 36 inch deep landing outside all exterior doors shall be not more than 7-3/4 inches lower than threshold for in-swinging doors and at the same elevation on each side of the door for out-swinging doors. CBC 1008.1.4 and 1008.1.5
Stairways (CBC 1009), Handrails (CBC 1012) and Guards (CBC 1013)
- Rise and run minimum requirements for stairways have increased to 7-3/4 inch maximum rise and 10 inch minimum run. CBC 1009.3
- 1/2 inch gypsum board at walls and soffit of enclosed usable space under stairs. CBC 1009.5.3
- Handrails may project into the required width of the stairway 4-1/2 inches and shall provide 1-1/2 inch space between the wall and handrail. CBC 1012.7 and 1012.6
- For guards required on the open side of the stairway, whose top rail also serves as a handrail, height shall be 34 inches to 38 inches and intermediate rails shall be spaced such that a sphere 4-3/8 inches in diameter cannot pass through. CBC 1013.2 Exp 1 & 1013.3 Exp 5
- Guards at second floor open areas to below/balconies and decks, which are more than 30 inches above the floor below, must be 42 inches minimum height with intermediate rails spaced such that a sphere 4 inches in diameter cannot pass through. CBC 1013.1, 1013.2 & 1013.3
- Guard details shall be capable of resisting a 200 pound load applied in any direction at any point along the top rail (show member sizes, connections, etc.). CBC 1607.7.1.1
Sections (CBC 1208.2)
- Minimum ceiling height of 7 foot 6 inches in habitable spaces and corridors.
- Minimum ceiling height of 7 feet in bathrooms, toilet rooms, kitchens, storage rooms, and laundry rooms.
Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Area (applies to new buildings only in Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone) CBC Chapter 7A
- This is a new chapter which provides requirements for vegetation clearance, roof construction, exterior wall construction, windows, exterior doors, exterior decks, stairs, porches and balconies, cantilevered floor projections, and unenclosed under-floor areas.
- Unless required by the Building Official special inspections are not required for R-3. CBC Section 1704.1, Exp 3. (Be Careful - Piers & Grade Beams, Welding, PT Slabs, etc.).
- Square plate washers are now 3 inches x 3 inches x .299 inches for SDC "D", "E", and "F". CBC 2305.3.11
(2007 CBC – Permit applications submitted on or after January 1, 2008)
Where does it apply? Wildland Urban Interface Construction requirements, Chapter 7A, apply to new buildings in all State Responsibility Areas (SRA) with application dates starting January 1, 2008, and in Very High Fire Hazard zones within Local Responsibility Areas (LRA).
Does my addition or remodel need to comply? If the original structure was built under these regulations, then yes. Example: your original building has a 2007 or earlier permit then an addition or remodel to it would not have to comply.
How do I know if I am in one of these areas? There are several methods to determine if these regulations apply:
- Much of the unincorporated area of Lassen County is SRA and these requirements apply. LRA areas where these regulations may apply are the Gold Run/Circle Drive areas, the Janesville Highway 395 corridor, Westwood and portions of the Pittville area.
- The information is available at the permit counter.
- Maps (and other detailed information) are available at: http://www.fire.ca.gov/wildland.php
Does this apply to Manufactured Homes? Yes. The regulations apply on any Manufactured Home or Commercial Coach, new or used, with an application date of September 1, 2008, or later. The units will be required to be labeled for compliance as specified in Title 25 Section 4214.
Does this apply to Factory Built Housing (FBH)? Yes. FBH is regulated under Title 24 of CCR that contains the 7A Wildland Urban Interface requirements.
Are any Buildings Exempt? Detached subordinate and accessory buildings and structures which are located more than 30 feet away from the main home or primary building may be exempt from these regulations upon approval by the Building Official.
Where can I find listed products? First ask the manufacturer if the product has been tested and they should provide or direct you to the listing. Products that are listed through the Office of the State Fire Marshall (OSFM), are located online at: http://www.fire.ca.gov/wildland.php
Can I use quarter-inch mesh on vents? All attic and under floor ventilation, other than eave and soffit vents, may use quarter-inch wire mesh as an alternative to special flame and ember-resistant vents.
Can I have eave vents in Fire Hazard Severity Zones? No. Vents shall not be installed in eaves or soffits unless they are tested to resist the intrusion of flame and burning embers into the attic.
What will work and what do I have to show on my plans? See each of the following building components:
- Roof Coverings: Specify the type and rating of the roof covering. Class A or noncombustible roofing is required in all areas designated as a Very High Fire Hazard severity zone (Aluminum is not considered non-combustible). Class B roofing materials are allowed in areas not designated as a Very High Fire Hazard. Specify the roof material and provide the listing for other than comp., steel or tile.
- Roof Valleys: When metal valley coverings are to be installed, an underlayment consisting of one layer of No. 72 ASTM cap sheet running the full length of the valley is required.
- Roof Vents: Eave or soffit vents are not permitted unless listed. All other roof vents can be ¼ inch corrosion resistant mesh. For vents in the eave or soffit, provide the listing and detail the size, number and location of vents to meet the attic ventilation requirements of 1/150 of the area to be ventilated divided between upper and lower vents. The listed vents will have reduced venting capability that must be accounted for. OR remove all details and references to eave or soffit vents and detail the number, size and location of vents to meet the roof ventilation requirements of the CBC that requires the net vent area to be 1/150 of the area to be ventilated divided between upper and lower vents.
- Gutters: Add a note that if gutters are installed they will be provided with a means to prevent the accumulation of debris in the gutter such as screened.
- Eaves, soffits and similar overhangs: Detail on the plan showing the underside is protected by materials that are non-combustible OR ignition resistant (provide listing) or listed under SFM 12-7A-3.
- Exterior walls: Detail the plans to show the exterior walls are approved non-combustible OR ignition resistant OR heavy timber OR log walls OR listed under SFM 12-7A-1. Currently fiber cement siding, traditional 3-coat stucco and full log walls are acceptable without listings. Other materials will require the submittal of the listing.
- Exterior Windows, glazing in doors: Detail/specify on the plans that all (including garages) glazing is insulated glass with a minimum of one-tempered pane of glass OR glass block OR be 20-minute rated OR listed under SFM 12-7-A-2. Specify each window on the plans as tempered or the listing.
- Exterior Doors: Specify all exterior doors to be noncombustible OR listed under SFM 12-7A-1 OR a rated 20-minute door OR solid core 1-3/8 inch thick with interior field panel thickness no less than 1-1/4 inches.
- Garage Doors: Specify Garage Doors as either noncombustible OR exterior fire-treated wood.
- Decks (deck surfaces, stair treads/risers, porches, and balconies): Specify heavy timber (minimum 3” nominal thickness) OR exterior fire-treated wood OR non-combustible materials OR ignition resistant meeting SFM 12-7-A, parts A and B OR material that passes the SFM 12-7-A (Part A only) and the walls the deck is attached to can only be non-combustible or ignition resistant material unless the material has a flame spread rating of “B” or better then any approved wall material is allowed.
- Underside of cantilevered/overhanging appendages and floor projections (not decks): Show that the underside maintains the ignition resistance of the exterior walls or enclose to grade.
Since eave and soffit vents are prohibited unless listed, the lower vents must be located as low as possible on the roof surface and/or low on the gable ends to provide the required lower ventilation.
Combustible raised panel doors generally will not comply due to the thickness of the panels that taper at the edge.
These regulations do not apply to the underlying deck support material but note that all deck support material within 8” of the ground must be pressure treated or naturally resistant to decay.
Wildland Urban Interface Requirements for Manufactured Homes
Frequently Asked Questions
- Where do these standards apply? Wildland Urban Interface Construction requirements, Chapter 7A, apply to all new or used manufactured homes and commercial coaches being installed in all State Responsibility Areas (SRA) and in the Very High Fire Hazard zones within a Local Responsibility Area (LRA).
- When do they apply? They apply on any type of Manufactured Home or Commercial Coach, new or used, with an application date of September 1, 2008, or later except as discussed in the “Are any Homes Exempt” question below. The units will be required to be labeled for compliance as specified in Title 25 Section 4214.
- Are any Homes Exempt? Wildland Fire Requirements do not apply if the home has a manufacture date on or after January 1, 2006, and prior to September 1, 2008, for which an application is submitted prior to September 1, 2009. (Date of manufacture is the date recorded by the manufacturer on the Data Plate).
- Can I retrofit an older home and install it? Yes, you will have to submit plans and obtain a permit from the State of California. We will require the written approval from the State as specified in Health and Safety Code Section 4212 prior to issuance.
- What about a repair or addition to a manufactured home? It will have to comply. In the case of exterior repairs “only the portion undergoing the repair, replacement, or alteration” must comply with provisions for Wildland Fire. That work is also permitted through the State of California.
- How do I know if I am in one of these areas? There are several methods to determine if these regulations apply: Much of the unincorporated area of Lassen County is SRA and these requirements apply. LRA areas where these regulations may apply are the Gold Run/Circle Drive areas, the Janesville Highway 395 corridor, Westwood and portions of the Pittville area. The information is available at the permit counter. Maps (and other detailed information) are available at: http://www.fire.ca.gov/wildland.php
- Where can I find listed products? First ask the manufacturer if the product has been tested and they should provide or direct you to the listing. Products that are listed through the Office of the State Fire Marshall (OSFM), are located online at: http://www.fire.ca.gov/wildland.php
- What about skirting, decks, landings and stairs? All will have to comply including skirting with approved materials to grade. For decks, landings and stairs, only listed materials are permitted for the surface materials and they can be found at: http://www.fire.ca.gov/wildland.php
Pursuant to Section 17923 and 17951 of the California Health and Safety Code and the Adopted Codes, a building department may approve the use of alternative materials and methods not specifically prescribed in the code. The Building Official may approve such alternate, provided there is evidence the alternative is found to be at least the equivalent of that prescribed by the code in suitability, strength, effectiveness, fire resistance, durability, safety, and sanitation.
A detailed plot plan, drawn to scale, must be submitted in conjunction with any development permit application. The plot plan should include at a minimum the location and dimensions of the following:
- Detailed description of parcel location using address, landmarks, post mile markers, or any other helpful features.
- Setbacks from structures to property lines and distances between structures.
- Existing and proposed dwellings and accessory structures.
- Existing or proposed driveway(s), turnouts, turnarounds, and parking areas.
- Driveway width and length must be shown.
- Public or private roadways directly adjacent or leading to the parcel.
- Well and septic tank/leachfield or sewer lines.
- Any streams, drainages, or other bodies of water.
- Any unique physical features.
At the Plot Site
- Clearly identify the project site by posting your name or street address conspicuously at that location.
- If property is unimproved and unfenced, property lines should be flagged or property corners clearly posted.
Questions regarding inspections or general Building Code requirements can be referred to Mike Johnson our Building Inspector at firstname.lastname@example.org.
24 HOUR ADVANCE NOTICE REQUIRED FOR ALL INSPECTIONS
Tue & Thu:
For inquiries regarding the status of a building permit or a permit application, you may contact Kelley Kelley our Permit Technician at email@example.com.
Plan Review Process
Plan reviews typically take two to four weeks for approval, provided submitted plans are complete.
Common items slowing the plan review process are:
- Non-conventional construction which has not been engineered as required, pursuant to the California Building Code (CBC);
- Addition plans which are unclear as to what work is being done;
- Plan review deposit has not been paid;
- Land use issues;
- Hard to read plans;
- Electrical plan has not been submitted;or
- Insufficient detail of structural components.
The CBC defines conventional light-frame wood construction as "a type of construction whose primary structural elements are formed by a system of repetitive wood-framing members." This essentially means, if your project is not stud-framed, engineering is required.
Typical projects which require engineering are:
- Pole barns and post and beam structures;
- Projects in areas over 6,000 square feet in elevation;
- Structures constructed without inspections;
- Structures not meeting shear requirements in the CBC (i.e., where doors or windows are located within four feet of building corners);
- Foundations; and
- Cut and stacked roof framing.
Expedited plan reviews may be requested upon staff availablability. Expedited reviews can usually be accommodated within 1 ½ weeks from the date of submittal and provided all necessary documents have been received and the Planning Division has approved the project. The expedited review will be done after hours and as such, the fee is established at 1 ½ times the normal plan check fee amount.
Inquiries regarding the status of your plan review can be directed to Kelley Kelley our Permit Technician at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following items must be completed and pass inspection prior to the issuance of a Temporary Occupancy.
- Post Address
- Heat Source
- Cook Source
- G.F.C.I. Receptacles (Electrical)
- Smoke Detector (must be working)
- Functioning Bathroom
- Hot & Cold Water (all sources)
- T.P.R. (water heater)
- Label All Electrical Panels
- Fire Clearances
- As required by code
- All construction debris removed
- Exterior Lights (shielded)
- Fire, Road, and Health Reviews (follow through as required). It is the responsibility of the permit applicant to follow up with the appropriate departments and/or agencies to ensure the requirements are met prior to receiving Temporary Occupancy.