Adding a new room is a great way to improve a home’s value and increase the livable space. It is more affordable than buying a bigger property, which isn’t an option for families with roots in a particular neighborhood. However, a room addition isn’t just about floor space. It can have a significant impact on the safety of the home’s structure. That’s why local governments have regulations in place to ensure these projects go smoothly. In San Francisco, the Department of Building Inspection handles the permit process.

Do You Need a Permit of Home Addition?

This depends on the size and scale of your project. If you’re only adding a small garden shed or a tiny storage space, you may not need a permit. However, a fully-functional room like a bedroom, kitchen, living room, or entertainment room may require as many as four different permits, such as:

Building – A building permit states that your plan complies with local building codes, zoning, land use, and other such requirements. City departments will look at aspects like framework, structural integrity, green compliance, insulation requirements, fire safety, etc. If your plans are sound, the department will grant a building permit.

Electrical – The electrical permit is designed to ensure that all electrical features like power lines, lights, appliances, etc. are installed according to local safety regulations. A certified electrical engineer will look at these plans carefully before approving them.

Mechanical – A mechanical permit deals with your HVAC system, kitchen hood, and other such installations. A mechanical engineer will assess plans or layouts carefully before approval.

Plumbing – If the room has any plumbing lines, you would need a plumbing permit. Even a small sink or a powder room requires a plumbing permit. A qualified city plumber will assess your plans before approving them.

Depending on an addition’s design or layout, you may need all four of these permits. This can be a long and tedious process, especially for people who have never applied for permits before. Fortunately, a permit expediter can take over this burden by handling everything from start to end. They will put an application together, submit it, and pick the permit up on time.

Pre-Application Plan Review

Building owners can submit a pre-application plan review before going through the entire process. A pre-application review allows you to ask the experts at the building department-specific questions about building code and determine whether they need a permit. This can help you save a lot of time as well as money as a pre-application review isn’t as expensive as a full permit application.

Permit Application Process

In San Francisco, all permit applications must be submitted in person at the Department of Building Inspection. Applicants must fill all required forms carefully, make sure there are no errors, provide two or more copies of plans, and then submit their application packet.

A registered architect or designer must draw plans for extensive reconstruction or addition projects. However, if you have a single to two-storied house and are making a small addition, a licensed architect isn’t necessary. Plans by an owner or contractor are suitable as well. Here’s a look at the application process:

Over-the-Counter Approval – If the addition plans are relatively simple, a department official will just ask you to wait as they assess it before granting a permit. This doesn’t often happen in the case of home additions or extensions.
Review By Inspectors – Large-scale remodeling or home modifications require a review by inspectors. Projects such as garage and basement conversions, adding a new entertainment space in the backyard, expanding a bedroom, etc. fall under this category. Trained professionals will examine every aspect of your plan, making sure it lives up to building codes before signing off on it.
Plan Checks – If something doesn’t live up to building code, an inspector will point it out with plan checks. An application with a plan check comes back to you for correction and resubmission. Once all corrections are done, double-check the plans before resubmitting them.
Pick-Up – San Francisco building department gives applicants 100 days to pick up a permit and start working on a project. After this period has passed, you must get an extension or reapply for it. Expired permits aren’t valid, and any construction after expiry is illegal.

It can take anywhere between 2-4 weeks for approval if there are no plan checks or re-submissions. Some plans are straightforward and don’t require an in-depth assessment. You will get approval for such applications with a matter of days.

Permit Application Fee in San Francisco CA

Building owners must pay three types of fees during the application process- an application fee, a plan review fee, and a permit fee. Application and plan review payments must be done at the time of the application. The cost depends on how complex or time-consuming a plan review is. Over-the-counter approvals are often more affordable than a full assessment.

You need to pay a permit fee while collecting the approved permit. People who ask for an extension must pay a small amount for it as well. An extension is valid for 365 days and is only provided once.

Resubmitting plans require you to pay the same fees again, which is why it is crucial to get it right the first time.

Hire a Permit Service Company

A permit management companies a trained professional with ample knowledge about the application process. They have connections with the building department, know about codes as well as zoning laws, and have a network of architects as consultants. A permit expediter will double-checking everything, so your application doesn’t come back. They get a second opinion on your plan, make sure all forms are error-free, and communicate with department employees if needed.

If you want to know more about the process or wish to consult with Service First Permits, don’t hesitate to reach out. Their team will be happy to answer all of your questions and help you get permits quickly.