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Building Safety Division – frequently asked questions

Permit FAQs

  • A permit is an official document or certificate issued by the City which authorizes performance of a specified activity.
  • Permits help to ensure that minimum codes, regulations, local ordinances and safety requirements are properly followed in residential and commercial structures.
  • There are several different types of permits, based on the type of construction:
    • Building Permits
    • Electrical Permits
    • Plumbing Permits
    • Mechanical Permits
  • Application for a permits may be made at the public counter.  You may also need to submit construction drawings for plan check review that detail your proposed improvements.  There are many handouts to help you through this process and our counter staff can provide expert guidance if you need assistance.
  • Any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by code, or to cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permits.
  • Work exempt from permit includes the following:
    • One story detached accessory structures used as a tool or storage shed, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet.
    • Fences not over seven (7) feet high (A front-yard fence permit is required from the Planning Division for fences located in the front yard)
    • Oil derricks
    • 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 of impounding Class I, II or IIIA liquids.
    • Water tanks supported directly on grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2:1.
    • Sidewalks and driveways not more than 30-inches above adjacent grade, and not over any basement or story below and are not part of an accessible route.
    • Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work.
    • Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.
    • Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R-3 occupancy that are less than 24 inches deep, do not exceed 5,000 gallons and are installed entirely above ground.
    • Shade cloth structures constructed for a nursery or agricultural purposes, not including service systems.
    • Swings and other playground equipment accessory to a detached one-and two-family dwellings.
    • Window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall and do not require additional support of Groups R-3 and U occupancies.
    • Non fixed and movable fixtures, cases, racks, counters and partitions not over 5 fee 9 inches in height.
  • Many types of permits may be issued to the owner of the property or authorized agent, or to a licensed contractor.
  • The appropriately licensed contractor must provide proof of licensing, available for verification through the California Contractors State Licensing Board and the contractor must obtain a current City of Santa Ana business license.
  • Some permits can be issued same day, over-the-counter such as: simple water heater change outs, residential service meter upgrades, minor reroofs, restucco, patio covers and swimming pools. Other projects may require that plans be submitted for plan review.
  • Other Agency approvals such as Planning, Public Works, Fire, Police, and the Health Department may be required. The Permit Counter will let you know at the time plans are submitted which of these reviews will be required.
  • Building permit fees vary according to the scope of work. Please call the Permit Counter at (714) 647-5800 for building permit fee information.  Itemized fees are charged for electrical, plumbing, and mechanical permits.  These fees can be found directly on the corresponding application.
  • Plans for projects such as room additions usually can be drawn by qualified individuals such as a draftsperson.
  • Larger projects may require plans to be prepared and signed by an architect or engineer licensed by the State of California.
  • For patio covers and garages, the City has standard plans that you may follow. This standard plan is then attached to your plot plan.
  • It shall be the duty of the holder of the building permit or their duly authorized agent to notify the building official when work is ready for inspection.  It shall be the duty of the permit holder to provide access to and means for inspections of such work that a required by this code.
  • Inspections are required at various times during the course of construction, depending on the scope of work.  Please see the attached handout for more information on what work must be completed at each point in the inspections process.
  • Every permit issued shall become invalid unless the work on the site authorized by such permit is commenced within 180 days after its issuance, or if the work authorized on the site by such permit is suspended or abandoned for a period of 180 days after the time the work is commenced.
  • The building official is authorized to grant, in writing, one or more extensions of time, for periods not more than 180 days each.  The extension shall be requested in writing and justifiable cause demonstrated.
  • 2019 California Building Code
  • 2019 California Residential Code
  • 2019 California Electrical Code
  • 2019 California Plumbing Code
  • 2019 California Mechanical Code
  • 2019 California Green Building Standards Code
  • City of Santa Ana Municipal Code Requirements

Inspection FAQs

  • All construction or work for which a permit is required is subject to one or more inspections by the Building Safety Division.
  • All such construction or work shall remain accessible and exposed for inspection purposes until approved by the Building Official. In addition, certain types of construction shall have inspections by deputy building inspectors, as specified by the California Building Code in Section 1704.
  • It shall be liable for expense entailed in the removal or replacement of any material required to allow inspection.
  • The city inspector checks the work that is being done for compliance with the approved plans and applicable codes and ordinances.
  • The inspector will check each phase of the job and shall approve it before the next part of the job begins.
  • The inspection job card given to you when permits are issued will list the inspections required for your project, although additional inspections may be necessary when noted or the city inspector adds them to your inspection card.
  • The inspector signs and dates the inspection job card for each inspection approved and will provide you with a list of corrections for work not approved. The list of corrections will include a brief explanation (i.e. deviation from the approved plans).
  • Grading Permit: If a grading permit is required for your project, inspections are clearance of the initial grading work by a Public Works inspector will precede any building construction inspections.
  • Foundation inspection: When the excavation for footings is complete and footing forms and required reinforcing steel and structural embedments are in place, but before any concrete is placed. (Also needed are separate underground electrical, plumbing and mechanical inspections).
  • Roof Sheathing Inspection: When all roof framing members are installed and the plywood or other sheathing is complete. All plumbing and mechanical vents are installed and flashed.
  • Wood Framing Inspection: When all roof, walls, and floor framing, fire blocking, draft stopping and all pipes, chimney, vents and duct work are in place, but before any work is covered. Wood framing inspection will not be approved until rough mechanical, electrical, and plumbing inspections are completed.
  • Insulation Inspection: When all thermal insulation is in place but before it is concealed. Inspect state energy requirement stated on the approved plans.
  • Lath and/or Gypsum Board Inspection: After all lath and gypsum board is in place but before any stucco is applied, or before gypsum board joints and fasteners are taped and finished.
  • Reinforced Masonry Inspection: In grouted masonry before any units are laid up, all steel must be tied and in place ready for concrete foundation pour.  Grout inspection is required after units are laid. Final inspection is required after cells are grouted and cap is installed.
  • Structural Steel Inspection: When structural steel members are in place and required connections are complete but before concealing any members or connections. Certificates of Compliance are to be given to the City Inspector.
  • Re-roof Inspection: Sheathing inspection and building final inspection.
  • Electrical Inspections:
    • Underground: After conduit or cable has been installed in trench but not covered.
    • Rough wiring: Before any part of the work is concealed and prior to framing inspection. Telephone, television, intercom, security, doorbell and thermostat cable need to be in place for rough inspection. Compliance with Title 24 Requirements for Residential Lighting is checked.
    • Final: When all fixtures, appliances, and systems are in place and connected.
  • Plumbing Inspections:
    • Underground or sub-floor plumbing: After material has been installed and tested, including sewer . Sewer Cap, is inspected for demolition projects.
    • Rough plumbing: Before any part of the work is concealed (including shower pan hot map), prior to framing inspection and after roofing is installed.
    • Gas piping test: After lath or gypsum board has been installed.
    • Shower pan
    • Final: After all fixtures are in place and connected.
  • Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning Inspections:
    • Underground/Sub-floor duct inspection.
    • Rough: Before any part of the work is concealed, metal fireplace rough, prior to framing inspection and after roofing is installed.
    • Final: All appliances and equipment are in place and connected. Performance test may be required.
  • Schedule an inspection online for final inspection when the construction has been completed.
    • All external surfaces must be painted, or otherwise sealed, weather-stripping must be installed on all new windows and doors, and all electrical or plumbing fixtures have been installed. Interior painting, wallpapering, or carpeting need not be complete.
    • Smoke detectors must be installed in all bedrooms, located at the top of a staircase and in the hallway/corridor leading to the bedrooms.
  • Residential projects will not receive a Certificate of Occupancy as your signed job card is your proof of final inspection/approval.

Still have questions? Call us at (714) 647-5800 and let us help you!

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