Homeowners FAQ

Thinking about a home improvement?

This FAQ is a rundown of some of the basic information and most frequently asked questions about remodeling and building in San Diego.

From construction permits to advice on changing your mind about your plans, we have a list here of what to do.

IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES DO I NEED A PERMIT?

You will need a construction permit for all new builds. Quite often, you will need a permit for the repairing of something that is already on your property. This may include such jobs as changing the windows.

If you are doing major electrical work, then you may also need an electrical permit. Likewise, for any big plumbing or mechanical jobs.

WHAT ARE PERMITS FOR?

Permits are how the municipality of San Diego helps to regulate the construction industry. It is intended to help the householder to ensure that their home is safe, and their plans will be workable.

Depending on the type of project you have in mind, you may need a different type of permit. These range from plumbing, electrical and mechanical.

The permit is the first stage. The next one is showing plans and seeking approval of them.

The safety of residents is the city’s primary concern.

CAN I CHANGE BUILDING PLANS WHICH HAVE ALREADY BEEN APPROVED?

Yes, you can change plans that have been approved and there are several different ways of doing this. Recommended reading is here, on our sheet “How to make changes to permitted plans”

WHAT ISN’T A PERMIT FOR?

You don’t need a permit for some small jobs such as painting, wallpapering or erecting a fence that is lower than six feet.

Other jobs that won’t need a permit include changing electrical switches or water faucets. On the other hand, changing a light fixture may require a permit.

If you are unsure, please check with the department.

WHO SHOULD GET THE PERMIT?

As a home owner, you can get the permit for the work that you want carrying out.

Also, a contractor working on your behalf may obtain one.

AM I OBLIGED TO HIRE A CONTRACTOR, OR CAN I DO THE JOB MYSELF?

You are not obliged to hire a contractor to undertake the work. You may do it yourself, however, you still have to abide by the rules.

These include making sure you have got Workers’ Compensation Insurance, if you are taking anyone on to help you.

If you are not going to hire anyone, then you have to sign an Owner Builder Statement. Your permit will not be granted until you have done this.