When don't I need a permit?

Most major projects will require permits of some kind (building permits and/or planning permits).  This is necessary to ensure that all buildings meet minimum standards which protect its occupants and neighbors in everyday living and in the case of emergencies or natural disasters. Some minor projects are allowed without obtaining building permits.   However, depending upon the project, other permits (planning permits, encroachment permits, special activities permits, etc.) may be required. In either case, the construction of such projects should be in conformance with all applicable codes. Some of the projects which do not require a building permit are: 

  • Retaining walls or planter boxes which are no more than 4' in height (measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall) and do not support another structure, fence, or take on additional soil loads.
  • Wood or chain link fences not greater than 6' high.
  • Decks and platforms less than 30" above grade, and not attached to a structure.
  • Exterior stairs that are within 30" of grade, have less than four risers (if residential) or less than two risers (if non-residential), and are not a part of an exiting system.
  • Pools which are entirely above the adjacent grade and have a maximum capacity of 5,000 gallons.
  • Single story detached buildings used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, etc., as long as the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet and does not have plumbing, electricity, or heating.

Minor improvements typically not needing a permit: 

  • Interior or exterior painting,
  • Installing draperies or blinds,
  • Installing carpeting or resilient floor covering,
  • Constructing store fixtures (display cases), and removable partitions under 5 feet-9 inches,
  • Constructing uncovered concrete patios,
  • Changing fixtures and utility outlets, such as lighting and light switches.

These examples are only some of the exempted projects which are listed in various code books. Not all exempted projects have been included. Contact the Building & Safety Division for additional information. 

Show All Answers

1. Where do I get a permit?
2. What happens if I build without a permit?
3. What other information do I need to supply in order to apply for a permit?
4. Who can obtain a permit?
5. How much will the permit cost?
6. What are your hours for issuing permits?
7. When don't I need a permit?
8. Is it possible to reinstate a cancelled building permit application?
9. What time is building construction allowed? Can work be done on weekends?
10. Who do I contact to file a complaint about illegal construction activity?
11. What are the hours for the public service counter?
12. What percentage of construction and demolition materials must be recycled?