Building Division

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Construction Permits
M-Th 7:30 AM - 4:15 PM

Friday 7:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Over-the-Counter Plan Check Hours
M-W, Fri 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm

Building Staff
  Building Official: (626)403-7224
  Building Clerk: (626)403-7224


  Building Inspector: (626)403-7226


The role of the Building Division is to enforce the provisions of the Building Code. The intent and purpose of the Building Code is to establish the minimum requirements to safeguard the public safety, health and general welfare, through affordability, structural strength, means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, light and ventilation, energy conservation and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment. 

The Building Division reviews construction documents and issues permits for the erection, and alteration, demolition and moving of buildings and structures, inspects the properties for which such permits have been issued and enforces the provisions of the Building Code.

Electric Vehicle Charger and Service Equipment Checklist

Lead Based Paint Resource Information

CalGreen Requirement 
View 2013 California Green Building Standards Code

Earthquake Brace and Bolt Program
Registration for the Earthquake Brace and Bolt program will take place from January 23, 2017 to February 23, 2018.

View The ACTIVE PERMITS List as of 06/20/19
View all active construction permits

Frequently Asked Questions 

Southwest Monterey Hills Construction Regulations
A handbook for construction regulations in the Southwest Monterey Hills 

Quick Reference Guide to Alterations and Additions to an Existing Single-Family Home
A guide that helps homeowners and contractors understand the services provided by the City

Estimating Fees for Residential Development 
 A guide that helps calculate an estimate for building permit fees.

Construction Permits and Design Approval FAQ'S

These FAQs (frequently asked questions) provide basic information for homeowners on the required construction permits and design approval for typical minor residential construction projects. This list does not cover all possible scenarios; homeowners are urged to call for further details. 
  1. Why are permits required?
  2. When do I need design approval?
  3. Is my house historic?
  4. When do I need "plan check" review?
  5. What fees apply?
  6. Do I need a permit/plan check/design approval for my project?
  7. How do I obtain a permit?
  8. How can I check if a construction project has a permit?
  9. How can I research information on my house?

Why are permits required? 

It’s a benefit to the Owner and it’s the law! Construction done with the benefit of inspection by the City’s building inspectors helps insure that work is done in conformance with the minimum requirements of the State Construction Codes. Also, failure to obtain permits in accordance with the City’s Municipal Code can result in fines and penalties against both the owner of the property and the contractor performing the work. The City will also verify that your contractor has a valid state license and any required workers’ compensation insurance. Your home insurance coverage may be affected if you have unpermitted (i.e. illegal) construction. Future potential buyers of your home may be dissuaded if they discover that unpermitted work was performed. (And State law requires that the seller disclose all known unpermitted construction.)

The City’s regulations require design approval for most exterior changes to homes and buildings. These regulations help preserve South Pasadena’s unique charm and ensure that property values are protected, especially for the many historic homes in the city. The approval process ranges from staff approval to a public hearing, depending on the extent and nature of the work.

a. Staff approval is for “like-for-like” changes (using the same materials as the existing). This is typically done over-the-counter. There is no charge for this service. b. _A “Chair Review” is a review and approval of the project by the chair of the Design Review Board (non-historic homes) or Cultural Heritage Commission (historic homes) of minor projects.

When do I need design approval?
The criteria for design review approval are listed in the South Pasadena Municipal Code (refer to Section 36.410.040[D])

The required materials for a Chair Review can be found here. (PDF)
This process typically takes seven to 10 days (but may be less, depending on when the required materials are submitted). There is no charge for this service.

Changes beyond the scope of staff or Chair Review require a public hearing before the Design Review Board, the Cultural Heritage Commission, or the Planning Commission. Please contact the Planning and Building department for details.

Is my house historic?
The City has approximately 2,500 properties listed on the Cultural Heritage Inventory, which was established in 1994. Most homes that are 50 years or older are listed. Please contact the Planning and Building department to check if your house is listed. Historic designation only affects exterior changes made to the home. It does not necessarily preclude changes, additions, etc.; but all such work must be in accord with the City’s standards and guidelines to ensure that the historic integrity of the home and the surrounding neighborhood is maintained.

When do I need “plan check” review?

Plan Check is the process by which the City reviews the project plans for conformance with the California Construction Codes (building, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, etc.). Smaller projects are generally reviewed and approved “over the counter” (provided that the submitted drawings, plans, etc. have sufficient detail). This service is available from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Some work that requires a permit may not require plan check. More complicated minor projects require a formal plan review; typical turnaround time is one to two weeks. Building Department plan review fees are based on the project’s valuation. The Fire Department collects a $75 fee for review, when required.
Some LARUCP (Los Angeles Regional Uniform Code Program) “standardized plans” are accepted for minor projects. Please check with the Building department for details.

What fees apply?
Plan Check. Depends on the cost of the project. A minimum fee of $78.60 applies. Fire Department fees may also apply (minimum fee is $35.00).

Design Review Board/Cultural Heritage Commission:
$1010.00 (including the public noticing fee). Planning Commission: $2260.00-$2695.00 (including fees).

Permit Fees. Depends on the cost of the project. Please call the Building department for details

Business Licenses. Contractors and subcontractors must have a business license to work in the city. 

Payment methods: Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, Discovery, Amex.

Do I need a permit/plan check/design approval for my project?

This table provides general information only. Please contact the Planning and Building department for specific details on your project.

Type of project Permits required? Plan check required? Design approval required?
Painting (exterior or interior) No No No

Landscaping No No Design approval is not required except if part of an addition to the home
New Landscape Sprinklers Yes*
*Plumbing permit is required for the backflow device, not the sprinkler system.
No No
Repair of Landscape Sprinklers (downstream of an existing backflow device) No No No
Landscape lighting (less than 50 volts) No No No

Kitchen Cabinets No No No
Interior Remodeling (no increase in square footage) Yes Yes No
Replacing Flooring No No No

Rain Gutters No No No
Re-roof (same material as existing), including roof repair Yes No No
Re-roof (different material than existing) Yes Yes Yes

Retrofit Windows (using existing window openings) Yes
Bedroom windows must meet current Building Code requirements for egress/ingress
Yes Yes
New Windows Yes
Bedroom windows must meet current Building Code requirements for egress/ingress
Yes Yes
New front door No if only the door is replaced. Yes if the jamb or weatherproofing system is affected.
Insulation Yes ? No
Stucco/Siding Repair Yes Depends on extent Yes

Fences/Gates No if 6’ or less in height No No, but check with Planning for height limits and allowable materials
Garden walls No if retaining less than 3’ of dirt*
*Walls retaining more than 3’ are retaining wall and require permits
No No, but check with Planning for height limits and allowable materials
Retaining walls Yes Yes No, but check with Planning for height limits and allowable materials
Foundation retrofit Yes Yes No, unless changes the exterior
“Flatwork” without steps or stairs (driveways, paths, etc.) No No No
Interior or Exterior Stairs or Steps Yes. All steps/stairs need to meet Building Code requirements. The Building Official may exempt minor work from requiring a permit. Depends on height Yes
Landings and Ground-Supported Decks * Depends on height above ground Depends on height above ground Yes

Air Conditioning System (new or replacement [even if in exactly the same place]) Yes Yes No, unless roof-mounted
Water Heater (new or replacement) Yes ? No
New Exterior Lighting (110 volt) Yes No Yes
Replace an existing light fixture or electrical receptacle No, so long as no change is made to the house’s electrical system No No
Install new or replacement non-plumbing related kitchen appliance No if the appliance has a factory-connected cord and/or flexible gas line connector to an existing gas shut-off valve. Otherwise, yes. No No
Install new or replacement plumbing related kitchen appliance Yes, unless is equipped with a factory-connected cord and plug. No No
Burglar/Fire alarms, satellite dishes, cable TV No
No alarm permits required
No No
Remove or replace an existing plumbing fixture in exactly the same location No, so long as no work is required to the waste or vent system No No
Install a new sink, toilet or similar plumbing fixture where no previous fixture existed Yes No No
Move a sink, toilet or similar plumbing fixture where no previous fixture existed Yes No No

Detached, Free-standing Accessory Structures under 120 sq. ft. (tool sheds, gazebos, etc.) No*
*Electrical permit required if has lights/outlets
No No, but check with Planning re restrictions on location
Accessory Structures 120-200 sq. ft. Yes Yes Yes
Patio covers (attached to house) Yes Yes Yes
New (or replacement) Garage/Carport Yes Yes Yes
Small Addition (less than 500 sq. ft. or 25% of existing house) Yes Yes Yes

Swimming/Spa Pool Yes Yes No, but check with Planning re restrictions on location

Solar Rooftop Systems (photovoltaic or hot water) Yes Yes Yes (staff approval)

How do I obtain a permit?

a. The Building department’s counter hours are Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

b. Plan Check hours are 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday.

c. Two sets of construction plans are usually required for plan check. Additions, new structures, and solar panels require three sets. Please call the Building department if you have any questions as to what materials are required.

d. For projects that require no design approval or staff approval and require no plan check or over-the-counter plan check, permits can usually be issued in an hour or so. Projects requiring Chair Reviews or more detailed plan check will take longer.

Hiring a licensed contractor
State law requires that any job where the value of the labor and materials exceeds $500 be performed by a contractor with a valid State of California contractor’s license. See the linked website for more information.

Employing a "handyman" or unlicensed contractor for work valued at more than $500.00 can expose the homeowner to liability if a worker is injured onsite, and is illegal. Homeowners should ask contractors for proof of a license and current workers’ compensation insurance.

All contractors and subcontractors must have a valid City business license. This can be obtained from the Finance department either prior to or at the same time as obtaining a permit. Pro-rated licenses are available for short-term projects. The application form can be found here. (PDF)

"Owner Builder" permits
Homeowners may obtain their own permits as an “owner builder,” but should be aware of certain legal obligations.
Refer to this link:
Some projects (such as electrical work in a multi-family residence) can only by a licensed contractor who obtains an electrical permit.

Inspections by City staff ensure that the work subject to the permit/s meets minimum Code requirements. These are conducted Monday through Friday, between 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. To arrange an inspection, call (626) 403-7226 at least one day prior. Morning or afternoon inspections can be requested, but cannot be guaranteed. Projects subject to design approval will also be inspected by the Planning department to ensure that the project is in accord with the approved design. If changes occur to your project that affect the design, please contact the Planning department BEFORE making the changes.

Construction hours

Construction hours for most of the City are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays and City Recognized Holidays. 

How can I check if a construction project has a permit?
Permits for active construction projects in the City can be viewed here. (PDF)

Note: This list is updated on Friday afternoons, so may not reflect all current projects. If you suspect that work is occurring without a permit, please call the Building department.

How can I research information on my house?
Permits for each property in the City are located at the Planning and Building department’s front counter and can be viewed Monday through Thursday, between 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Fridays, between 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Copies are 10 cents per page. There may also be a Planning file for your property; please ask at the Planning and Building counter. The City does not retain blueprints for residential construction; however, blueprints for projects constructed since the 1990s may be included in the Planning file. Note: Blueprints are copyrighted and cannot be copied without the written approval of the architect who prepared them. The City does not have historic photos of homes. Possible resources include the City Library and the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation.


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