Frequently Asked Questions for Building (Construction) Permits


Workshop that is Detached
Swimming Pool and Spa
Garage That is Detached
Fencing and Screening


Smaller projects are considered "fast-track" and may be reviewed within 10 working days if the application submittal is complete and initial fees have been paid. A non-exhaustive list of such projects include: new garages/storage buildings, decks, small additions to existing structures, and foundation replacement or repair.

  • Please Note: We No Longer Accept Mail-In Construction Permit Applications. 

    • As of July 13, 2020, the Department of Planning and Building will not accept construction applications by mail.

      • If you would like to return/pick-up permit corrections or an issued building permit or submit a permit application in person, please request an appointment online or call 805-781-5600 to schedule an appointment. 

        • Appointments are available Monday-Friday between the hours of 8:30 AM -12:00 PM and 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM (Closed 12:00 - 1:30 PM).

Over-the-counter permits may be issued the same day that the application is submitted for small projects if the application submittal is complete and all permit fees have been paid. A non-exhaustive list of such projects include: electrical permits, skylight permits, and water heater permits.

A grading permit may require environmental review depending on the location, slope, and volume of soil moved. The review may involve additional processing time, fees, and extra requirements. Please contact staff at (805) 781-5600 if you have questions.

A separate construction permit is needed for each structure to be built or altered. If your project requires grading, a separate grading permit may also be required.

Storage sheds that are less than 120 square-feet, do not include any utilities, and are under 12 feet in height do not require a construction permit. Storage sheds that are 120 square-feet or larger, include utilities, or are over 12 feet in height do require a construction permit. Storage sheds of any size are required to comply with required setbacks. There may be additional design review requirements based on applicable plans and/or standards.

To schedule an inspection, call our scheduling system at 805-788-6602 any time before midnight for an inspection on the following workday. You can also use the Department of Planning & Building's Building Inspection Scheduling Service. You must have your permit number and the inspection code for the type of inspection you want. You can find the inspection code on the list given to you when your permit was issued. To find out the approximate time of your inspection, you may call your building inspector between 7:30 AM and 8:30 AM the day it is scheduled. When possible, your inspector will try to accommodate your request for a morning or afternoon inspection. If the road or driveway to your building site is gated, be sure to leave the gate unlocked the day an inspection is scheduled.

Please watch this video for scheduling an inspection through the PermitSLO Portal

A construction permit application is valid for 360 days from the date it was submitted. If a permit has not been issued within that time, the application will expire. An extension of 180 days may be granted upon written request. In order to renew an application after expiration, plans need to be resubmitted and new plan review fees need to be paid.

Construction permits can usually be issued within two months of submittal if the application and plans are complete, and the applicant responds promptly to all requests for additional information.

The building inspector will sign the appropriate space on your inspection card if your project passes the inspection. If it doesn’t pass the inspection, the inspector will leave you a correction notice describing any changes that must be made before you can schedule a re-inspection.

There is no difference between a construction permit and building permit. The Department of Planning & building uniformly uses the term construction permit, while others may use the term building permit.

Accessory Dwelling Units (sometimes called "granny units") can include a kitchen, laundry, and garage, are limited to 1,200 square-feet in size, and can be rented separately from the main house.

Guesthouses differ from secondary units in that they cannot include a kitchen, laundry, garage, separate electrical meter, are limited to 600 square-feet in size, and cannot be rented separately from the main house.

A property is not allowed to have both a secondary dwelling unit and a guesthouse.

Building codes and other construction regulations are standards that have been adopted to protect public health and safety. Department of Planning & Building staff inspect building projects during construction to ensure that each project meets these standards.

Before the building inspector arrives, be sure that the work to be inspected is completed in compliance with your plans and any relevant code requirements, that your inspection card and plans approved and stamped by the County are at the job site, and that the necessary access for inspection (including a ladder if needed) is provided. If the building is occupied, make sure someone is at home to let the inspector in. If any tests are required, make sure they are ready so that the inspector can observe the outcome (e.g. for a gas piping test the inspector would need to observe a pressure gauge showing the pressure holding steady after the gas lines were pressurized).

It is very important that no work be done until the construction permit is actually issued. The first site inspection, completed prior to issuance, often reveals special problems that may require changes to the proposed plans.

When your permit is issued, it will include an inspection card. The card lists the required inspections and the work to be completed before each inspection. It also describes specific tests, such as pressure tests on gas or water lines, that may be required before certain inspections.

A construction permit is needed for almost any project that involves building or altering a structure or its plumbing, mechanical, or electrical systems. If your project requires grading, a separate grading permit may also be required.

A property owner or a draftsperson may prepare plans for single family dwellings and alterations to single family dwellings that are classified as "conventional construction" by the building code. For non-conventional houses (at least the parts of them that are non-conventional) and virtually all commercial buildings, drawings must be prepared by a professional architect or engineer who is licensed in the state of California.