Applying for a New Building or Grading Permit
We now provide 100% digital permit application submission through our ePermits Center.
We no longer accept paper applications and plans.
The digital application has helped us process over 14,000 building permits a year!
This page will help you successfully submit an application for a building or grading permit. Our goal is to help you get your permit as quickly as possible.
Please read the information carefully because your project will be delayed if you submit a permit application that is incomplete.
ePermits Center Page
If you are already familiar with applying for ePermits go to the ePermits Center to get started with submitting your application.
ePermits Center Help
If this is your first time applying, or if you need clarification or more information, please read the sections below and visit our ePermits Center help page
Revisions, Extensions, and Renewals
If you need to submit building permit revisions, extensions, or renewals, please visit the Building Permit Revisions, Extensions, and Renewals webpage
- When do I need a permit?
Work not requiring a building permit
- See Section 106.2 of the California Building Code for further exemptions.
Exemption from the permit requirements shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of any County code or ordinance.
Please call us if you have any questions 925-655-2700.
- Who can pull a permit?
The 2019 California Building Code allows for the following individuals to pull permits. This will be the permit APPLICANT
- State Licensed Contractor in good standing with the California State Contractor’s License Board (CSLB)
- Owner-Builder (including a Trust or Corporation) - This may require proof of ownership
- Authorized Agent (including Designers or Architect) on behalf of an Owner-Builder or licensed contractor
Important Information for Applicants:
- When do I need plans?
- What should my plans show? How should they be formatted?
What should my plans show?
- When is a Licensed Professional Required to Prepare Plans Guide (PDF)
- All plans must show the property address, scope and current code cycle.
What size do my plans need to be?
What format do my plans need to be in?
- Do my plans require Planning approval?
Planning approval is required for the following:
- Construct a new building or structure,
- Changing the use on the site
- Changing the size, height, and dimensions, or other exterior changes to an existing building or structure.
- Design review for special areas (Kensington, Historic Districts, etc.)
- Adding an ADU or a Jr ADU requires planning approval.
- Business License secured for projects in the City of Clayton and City of Hercules.
The Planning Agency depends on where your property is located.
Unincorporated County Planning Approval
- Planning Approval provided through the ePermits Center system.
- View Planning Webpage
- Phone: 925-655-2700
- Make a Planning Appointment
City Planning Approvals
The County provides building permits for the following cities, but each city provides planning approval. Please contact the City's Planning department below for more information.
You will be required to upload the approved city planning application and approved plans in PDF format when you apply for a building permit on the ePermits Center.
- Who else needs to approve my plans?
You may need your plans to be reviewed and approved by planning, sanitation agency, fire, or public works prior to submitting your building permit application.
Please note that it is your responsibility to make sure you have approvals from all required agencies prior to submitting to the Building Department.
- Do I need Sanitation District or septic tank approval for my plans?
Sanitation District Approval for Sewer Service
Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Approval for Septic Tanks
What are the Sanitary District Requirements?
The following projects require Sanitary or Environmental Health review:
- When do I need Fire Department Approval?
- Does Public Works need to approve my plans?
Grading Permit Requirements
A grading permit is required if:
- Excavating greater than 5 feet deep or more than 200 cubic yards (50 cubic yards in the cities of Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda).
- Placing fill to support any structure, fill deeper than 3 feet, or more than 200 cubic yards (50 cubic yards for the cities of Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda).
- Per County Ordinance Code Section 716-4.202-204, other conditions may also trigger a grading permit.
- Be aware that for all grading permits involving 1000 cubic yards or more, nearby neighbors will be notified prior to permit issuance, see County Ordinance 716-4.202 (e).
- When you apply for a grading permit, you will need plans and specifications prepared and signed by a licensed California civil engineer or architect (unless waived by the county building official for small and unimportant work) containing the items set forth in County Ordinance Code Sections 716-4.602 – 608.
Submitting a Building or Grading Permit Application
Once you have your plans in the proper format and size, and have obtained the necessary approvals from other agencies, you are ready to apply for a building permit using the ePermits Center.
Important Information for Applicants:
- The APPLICANT is whomever applies for the permit, whether it is the design professional, licensed contractor, property owner or property owner's agent.
- The APPLICANT will be the point of contact for the life of the permit and will be the only permit contact to receive all email notifications. Our ePermits Center is unable to email all parties related to the permit.
- The APPLICANT is responsible to notifying the parties related to the permit of any updates, plan reviewer requests, etc.
- If the APPLICANT does not receive or see any email updates, check the Applicant's email spam or junk folder.
- Although we allow design professionals to apply online, we cannot issue the permit or plans to the design professional per California Health and Safety Code sections 19825 & 19826. The design professional applicant will be required to identify the contractor or property owner to whom the permit will be issued to. One of the two forms below is required to be completed, signed and submitted by the contractor or property ownerbefore the permit can be issued.
How your Permit Application is Processed
Step 1 - Application Submittal
Submit your Building or Grading Application through the ePermits website.
- View the Guide on Requirement for Preparing Electronic Plan Submittals (PDF)
- View the How to Apply for Building ePermit Submittal (PDF)
- View the what to expect after submitting an online application guide (PDF)
Step 2 - Initial Review
The initial review is to make sure your application files are complete and we have all documents needed to begin plan review if required. This takes about 4-5 business days.
- If your application is incomplete, we will contact you by email with instructions so that you can successfully complete and resubmit plans and/or other documents.
- If initial review is deemed complete, your official permit application numbers will be filed and you will be notified who your plan reviewer is.
Step 3 - Pay Fee
Step 4 - Plan Review
Your plan reviewer will review your uploaded documents for compliance with State and Local codes.
Your plan reviewer will let you know if you need to submit any corrections, clarifications or additional documents.
- The review process may take several iterations of communication between applicant and plan reviewer.
- All communications and responses during the plan review process will be by email or phone
- If we have comments on necessary revisions to your plans, we will email those to you as well as a link to upload your revised documents.
- View the instructions for how to submit revisions during the plan review phase page
Step 5 - Check Permit Status
You can check your permit's processing status in real time on our ePermits Center website, including up to date information and comments about your permit. Anyone can view the status online and log in is not required.
Step 6 - Final Payment
Staff will contact you to pay the balance of your permit fees. You can pay using the ePermits Center website
Step 7 - Permit Issued
After payment has been confirmed, you will be notified by email to download your permit card and approved plans.
You will be required to provide a printed copy of the permit card and full-size approved plans at the permit site.
Step 8 - Inspections
Building Inspections ensure the built project meets the permitted plans.
Resources for Contractors and Owner-Builders
Depending on your project, you may need to submit supporting documents with your plans. Common examples include debris recovery forms, drainage plans, geotechnical reports, engineering calculations, Title 24 Energy calculations, and checklists for generators and solar systems.
- Current Building Codes, Ordinances, and Technical Guidelines for Building Design (PDF)
- Building and Planning How to Guides and Checklists
- CalGreen Construction & Demolition Debris Recovery Program
- Drainage Plan Requirement Checklist (PDF)
- Commercial Generator Checklist (PDF) - Required for all generator installations
- Residential Generator Checklist (PDF) - Required for all generator installations
- Roof or Ground Mount Solar Checklist - Required for photovoltaic permits
- Title 24 Energy Code Form
Less frequently used forms include:
Contact Us for Assistance
Call us at 925-655-2700 for questions on your project. We receive a high number of phone calls daily and we recommend that you leave a message. We will try to return your call by the next business day.
Submit an Online Form
If you have a building code, construction, inspection or planning question, submit your questions with our online form. Your questions will be directed to the appropriate division.
Email Permit Center Staff if you have not seen any activity on your permit submittal within 7 business days from the submittal date. We receive a high volume of email daily and may not respond to your email right away. Please do not repeatedly email us the same question or inquiry.
Email Technical Support if you are locked out of your ePermits Center account or receive screen errors while creating your application online.
Schedule an Appointment
Schedule an Appointment for Help. We offer video, phone and in person appointments.