Permit Application Process

Steps to Apply for a Permit

Discounted Permit Fees for Energy Saving/Conservation Upgrades!

The following fees have been reduced by 30% for single family residential to encourage energy savings improvements: Electric Car Charging System, Furnace/Heater Replacement, Graywater System, Insulation/Energy Upgrade, Photovoltaic System (roof mount), and Water Heater Replacement.

Informal Review

Before you do anything official, bring a rough sketch of your lot and ideas to the Community Development Department, and we'll tell you if you're within the parameters of what is allowed. We might also be able to suggest something that will improve your project. This step is optional, but it is a good idea to use it.

Download the Planning Commission Entitlement Process Chart (PDF) for a visual representation of the complete entitlement process.

Interested in Building Green?

If you are interested in making your project sustainable or green, please visit SLO Green Build's website or give them a call at (805) 286-0072. SLO Green Build offers a program called "Lean-Build-Save" that supports local homeowners and building professionals in the design and implementation of green projects by providing a third-party review of proposed projects, educating participants in sustainable design and green building practices at no cost. For additional information on Building Green, please visit the following websites:  

Green Building Rating Systems

Spotting Extra Requirements

It's at this stage that we try to spot the need for architectural review or other additional procedures. If something extra is required, it's better to get it out of the way before you apply for a building permit. That way you can get the city's decision on your concepts before you spend a lot of money on detailed plans that might have to be changed.

Items to Keep In Mind

When you improve your property, keep in mind that installation of fire sprinklers, underground utilities, curbs, gutters, and sidewalks with pave-outs may be required. The street design checklist must be completed before a building permit is issued so the plan will reflect the design of the street improvements. It may be necessary to submit a bond payment to ensure completion of the improvements. Further information on this requirement can be obtained from the city's planning staff at (805) 473-4520.

Additional information may be obtained from the Contractors State License Board, including tips for hiring a contractor.

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You can apply for your building permit as soon as your plans are complete. The application consists of an application plus your plans (number of copies needed are listed below). Forms are available at the Community Development Department counter and are filled out and signed by you or your authorized representative. You, the owner, need not apply in person if you have given written authorization to your representative. Otherwise your signature is required on the application. If your plans are completed as outlined below, the form will be easy to fill out.

Include a Working Phone Number

One of the most important items on the form is a telephone number where we can reach you or your representative during business hours. You should include your number plus a number for the designer and/or contractor. The important thing is to give us a working phone where we can reach a reliable source for information about your project, and where we can call to tell you your plans have been checked or your permit is ready. Don't give us your home phone number if no one is there during the day.

Submitting an Application

When you turn the application in to the Community Development Department, you will need to submit your plans. The types of plans and number of copies vary as follows:

  • For a new house, residential addition, patio, garage, or the like, submit four sets. These must include a site plan, foundation plan with details, floor plans, framing plans, exterior elevations (including height elevations and views from all sides), structural sections, electrical / mechanical / plumbing plans, drainage and grading plan checklist, utility plan, and landscape plan.
  • For an interior remodel, submit three sets. These must include a site plan, proposed, and existing floor plans, and structural sections / construction details.

Remember that a site plan drawn to scale will have to show your entire lot and all buildings, plus off-street parking spaces and all trees. Be sure to include the owner's name, contact information, and the street address of the project at the bottom of each sheet of plans.

Plan Check Fee

Upon submittal of your building permit application, an initial plan check fee must be paid. This fee is based on the value of the project proposed (i.e., single-family residence, additions, etc.) and is credited toward the final building permit fees.

Lastly, if your project received Planning Commission approval, be sure that you have addressed all the conditions placed on the approval. All Planning Commission conditions of approval shall be provided on a full-size drawing sheet as part of the drawing sets.

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Plan Checks

After you submit your application, your plans are examined by city departments, including Building, Planning, Public Works, Fire, and Engineering. The San Luis Obispo Public Health Department reviews certain applications also. Plan checks are made in the order in which plans are submitted. Yours will be in the hopper with plans submitted by everyone else, including developers with large commercial or subdivision projects. No type of project is given special treatment.

The first plan check is usually completed within 2-3 weeks after you submit your plans and application, but this can vary, depending on our workload and the scope / size of the project.

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Notification of Completed Plan Check

We will call you when the plan check is complete. Please do not call regarding the status of a plan check unless absolutely necessary. We get roughly 20 calls a day from impatient builders wondering if their plan check has been completed. Each call means your application will be delayed a little longer while we answer the phone.

Should you need to get a hold of us for some other reason, give the Building Division a call at (805) 473-4520.

Along with your plans, you'll receive a correction list that includes all the comments from the various departments that have reviewed your plans. Even the most professional plans almost always require corrections, so don't be discouraged if you have to make several changes.

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Now you must amend your plans, following the correction list made out by the Building Division. A few minor corrections can be made on the original drawings, but if anything major must be changed, or if minor changes are numerous or can't be made neatly, you must draw new plans. Remember to resubmit your correction list with the revised plans, and your red-lined plans.

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Second Plan Check

Your corrected plans must now be rechecked. Bring copies of the revised plans and the original red-lined set(s) to the Building Division as soon as they're ready.

If you have followed the correction list carefully, this will be the last check required. Be sure to carefully review the correction list and make the necessary changes, since rechecking will cost you time (and money) after the second check.

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The Permit

As soon as the recheck is completed and no further corrections are needed, we prepare the document for the building permit. We call you as soon as the permit is ready to be issued. We will also return one set of approved and stamped plans with your permit.

School fees, if required, must be paid prior to permit issuance to Lucia Mar School District. We will give you a form to take to the district. When we call, we'll tell you the full amount of the fees, including building, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing, which must be paid when you or your representative pick up the permit.

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Business Tax Certificate (BTC)

Along with the permit, you will need a city business tax certificate, obtained through the Administrative Services Department, for any person working for you who is required to have one. For more information on obtaining a BTC, contact the Administrative Services Department at (805) 473-4550.

Now you may begin your project, faithfully following the city-approved plans and the city inspection schedule. If at any time you need to make a change in your approved plans, you must check with Building Division staff before proceeding. The field building inspector is not authorized to approve changes on the job site.

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You may request to schedule a pre-construction meeting with the building official and inspector prior to starting the project.

City building inspectors will check your work as you progress. You must get an inspection after each stage, before you go on to the next. You will be given an inspection record card, which must be posted at the site of your project. This card must be signed by a field inspector each step of the way.

The Building Division representative will explain this procedure and give you the card when you pick up your building permit. Along with the inspection card, one copy of the approved plans must be at the site when someone is working there and when the inspector arrives. A temporary address must be on site before calling for your first inspection.

It is essential to follow the inspection schedule. If you get ahead of it, you may have to rip out some of the work you've done so the inspector can look at your previous work. A permanent address must be installed prior to calling for the final electric inspection.

Please call for inspections the day before you want us to be there. The answering machine phone number is (805) 473-4527. Do not call the department phone number for an inspection unless directed to do so on the recording.

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Finishing Up

There is not a fixed period in which you must complete your project, but you must show progress within certain time frames. You are allowed 180 days to begin work, counting from the day the permit is picked up and fees are paid. At least some work (something an inspector could notice) must occur every 180 days. When you are finished, don't forget to call for a final inspection.

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