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Building Permits Questions

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Covid-19 Update:

  • Please note that City Hall is temporarily closed to the public while our staff continues working. 
  • Building Inspections are still available and can be scheduled by calling 949-361-3366.
  • If you have already submitted plans, our staff is working on reviewing them. 
  • The good news is that we are now able to receive new permit applications and resubmittals. Please follow these instructions:
  • For questions regarding zoning, allowable uses for property and other planning department questions, you can reach our Planning staff at Planning@San-Clemente.org.
  • To apply for an encroachment permit, email our Engineering staff at Engineering@San-Clemente.org.
  • To apply for a permit, download the application from our website and email to Permits@San-Clemente.org.
  • For Building questions, email our staff at Building@San-Clemente.org.
  • For questions regarding permit requirements, you can reach our staff at 949-361-6100. Phones are open between 7:30am to 12:30pm and 2:30pm to 5:30pm (Monday to Thursday) on regular working days. (8:00am to 12:30pm and 2:30 to 5:00pm on alternating Fridays). 
  • To obtain a permit application or other forms, scroll down and click on the link "Forms/Handouts/Checklists."
  • To apply for a solar permit, download the forms and email to SolarPermits@San-Clemente.org. To find the forms, scroll down and click on the link "Forms/Handouts/Checklists."
  • To apply for a permit, download the forms and email to Permits@San-Clemente.org. Please allow additional time for processing. 
  • Before coming to drop off any plans, please first check the website or call 949-361-6100. 
  • For questions on the status of your permit, call 949-361-6100. 
  • If you need to request a time extension on your permit, please email the Building Official Jack Holden at HoldenJ@San-Clemente.org
  • For updates, please keep checking our home page www.San-Clemente.org

For a list of forms available online, please click:

How do I schedule an inspection?

The easiest way to schedule an inspection is by calling 949-361-3366 or through our online permitting system eTRAKIT.

When scheduling inspections, you can choose the AM or PM time slots:

  • AM Inspections are scheduled to happen between 8:30 and 12:00pm

  • PM Inspections are scheduled to happen between 12:30 and 3:30pm

Please note that due to the high volume of requests for inspections, we cannot provide narrower time slots. Also please be aware that sometimes inspections can take longer than expected to complete. Sometimes due to unforseen circumstances, the inspectors may not be able to complete all AM inspections in the morning time slot resulting in some AM inspections happening later in the day. 

If you are wondering which type of inspection to request, here is a list of the most commonly requested building inspections:

  • 999 Building Final is the default code for finishing a project
  • 222 Mechanical Final
  • 333 Electrical Final (includes solar projects)
  • 444 Plumbing Final (includes water heaters)
  • 555 Pool/Spa Final
  • 412 Gas Release
  • 104 Pre Slab
  • 112 Final Framing
  • 117 Drywall
  • 201 Rough Mechanical (Heating/Vents)
  • 303 Rough Electrical
  • 305 Electrical Release
  • 404 Rough Plumbing

Another helpful source of information on building inspection codes is your Job Card. When a permit is issued, an Inspection Record (Job Card) is also issued. This Inspection Record (Job Card) lists info about your project and also lists various types of inspection available. For more information on what is needed to be ready for an inspection, please call our Building Inspector Supervisor at 949-361-6147. 

On rainy days, if you have an outdoor project (i.e. solar installation), please check online to see if your inspection has been cancelled due to rain. While our team does try to call contractors to provide advance notice of cancellations, sometimes contractors have failed to provide us with updated contact info, leaving no way for us to get ahold of them. Please make sure to fill out the phone number/contact info fully when applying for building permits.

Inspections can also be scheduled by calling (949) 361-3366. As long as the inspection request is scheduled online (or through the automated phone system) by no later than 5pm, then an inspection may be performed the very next working day. Or you can schedule inspections several days further out, if needed. Please note that no inspections are performed during the weekends or during a closed Friday.

To request your inspection, you may call our automated phone number (949) 361-3366 or use our online permitting system eTRAKIT.

Please note that if a permit does not have an approved inspection every 180 days, the job is considered abandoned and the permit expires. The permit may be extended by request, but it is important to make progress on the work to avoid an expired permit and possible added fees. Permits also have a time limit for completion and require extra fees to extend beyond the finish date. To avoid extra costs and inconvenience, the best solution is to complete the work and all necessary inspections before your permit expires. 

What is the purpose of the Building Division?

  • Provide fire, structural and safety protection for the occupants of new and existing structures through the use and enforcement of adopted construction codes.
  • Preserve the integrity of neighborhood environments resulting in a higher quality of life.
  • Maintain a spirit of cooperation with the business community through compliance with license requirements.

The Building Division administration includes the activities of:

  • Enforcing State-mandated laws and uniform codes.
  • Checking building plans for code compliance.
  • Permit issuance.
  • Providing customer service at the counter.
  • Collecting fees.
  • Maintenance of permit records and plans.
  • Preparing reports to State, County, City agencies and emergency responses.

The Inspection program includes the activities of:

  • Ensuring building construction compliance with State safety laws and City ordinances through inspections.
  • Responding to complaints about code violations, illegal construction, business license inspection requests, and structural damage assessments.

For information on the current Building Codes and Fees, click here:

How do I get a permit?

The first step is to prepare a drawing or create a blueprint of what you propose to do. If your property is subject to Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R’s) and you belong to a homeowner’s association, most projects require their approval first prior to submitting plans to the City. Your drawing or blueprint will be reviewed by any and all City departments affected by your project. In many cases simple exterior improvements need only be reviewed by Building and Planning Divisions and can often be plan checked over the counter during our walk-in hours.

What forms will I need?

Several forms must be completed depending on the extent of the project. They include: Permit Application; Homeowner’s Verification Form; and Owner-Builder Verification Form (not applicable if a contractor obtains the permit). Building Division staff will help you to understand the requirements of the applicable forms.

How much will it cost?

Permit fees vary based upon what work is being done and are proportional to the scope of the project. You can review the building permit fee schedule to get a general idea of the cost of your permit, however many projects are subject to fees from other Divisions or State surcharges.  Because of this, it is always a good idea to get a cost estimate from the Building Division at (949) 361-6100  before beginning a project. They may also be other approvals and permits required beyond the building permit including those from Engineering Division for grading work and/or from Planning Division for work done within Coastal Zones or where a zoning and/or historical variance or landscaping design may be required.

Is it less expensive for a homeowner to acquire the building permit?

The fees for a building permit are based on the valuation of the project and will be the same fees whether a homeowner or a contractor obtains the permit. However, a contractor may ask the homeowner to pay for his time spent at the Building Division office.

Can I get a permit for work already done? 

It is always best to obtain a permit prior to doing any work. Contractors are required by law to obtain permits prior to performing work under their license. However, in order to bring more buildings up to the proper safety codes, the City is willing to work with owners to validate work done without permits, if possible.

Owners would still need to go through the normal requirements and paperwork process to apply for a permit. The application will be reviewed by all departments and agencies as if no work had been performed. Owners would also need to submit formal blueprints for the work completed. 

Once the plans have been approved (for work already done), the Building Division would issue an “As-Built” building permit. However, work that was performed without the benefit of a permit and inspections, still needs to comply with the current building codes. So the work would need to be formally inspected. That may require the work to be exposed for the inspector to see at the site.

In addition, some work may have to be certified by a licensed structural or civil engineers prior to final inspection approvals. There may be penalty fees assessed to that project in addition to the normal permit fee. 

If approval for the work is not given, the work may have to be corrected, altered or even removed. In some cases the Code Compliance Division may have to work with the owner to ensure that all building codes have been met. 

How long will it take to process my permit?

 The length of time for processing a permit depends mostly on the scope of work being done. Simple walls, spas, underground gas or electric lines, patio covers, re-roofs, window replacement and such can be reviewed over-the-counter. If the project is approved a permit can be issued immediately. Other projects involving large decks, remodeling, additions may take a few weeks to review and approve depending upon the size of the improvement and/or number of corrections that may be needed on the blueprints. New construction of a home or commercial building requires extensive reviews by different divisions (Planning, Engineering, Water/Sewer, O. C. Fire Agency, Public Health, etc) and may require a longer period of time for review. Any required grading work must be done and approved by the Engineering Division prior to a building permit being issued.

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