Building Permits Questions

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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 a list of forms available online, please click:

How do I contact the Building Permit Department?

We are located at 910 Calle Negocio Suite 100, San Clemente, CA 92673.

Please excuse our dust as we are currently renovating to serve you better. The good news is that the first part of our renovation is complete. Now you can park directly in front of the building and then walk through the front doors into our newly renovated space.  

We are open: 

Monday                               7:30AM to 5:30PM

Tuesday                              7:30AM to 5:30PM

Wednesday                         7:30AM to 5:30PM

Thursday                             7:30AM to 5:30PM

Alternating Fridays              8:00AM to 5:00PM


To allow enough time to complete the paperwork, all plan submittals must be received by 5pm. No plan submittal can be accepted after 5pm (Mondays to Thursdays or 4:30pm on Fridays).

Please note:

Closed for Lunch                                  12:30PM to 1:30PM     

Reserved for Appointments only          1:30PM  to 2:30PM

 2020 Holiday & Dark Friday Calendar

If you have any questions, you are welcome to call us at (949) 361-6100.

If you need to request a time extension on your permit, please call (949) 361-6147.

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.

How do I schedule an inspection?

The easiest way to schedule an inspection is 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. 

Here is the direct link to schedule inspections online:

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.

If you are wondering which type of inspection to schedule, the best source of information 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. If you have further questions about what is needed to be ready for an inspection, you can call our Building Inspector supervisor directly at 949-361-6147.

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. 

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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