City of Berkeley has a Permit Service Center (PSC) where you can start the permitting process. PSC is a consolidated permit counter offering services from four separate agencies in one centralized location to issue permits for Building, Zoning, Fire Prevention and Public Works/Engineering. PSC coordinates the review of building permit applications with other City agencies and issue permits when approved by all responsible agencies.
Step 1: Zoning Approval
Step 2: Building Permit
Step 3: Construction / Inspection
Step 4: Modifications to Approved Plans
The first step for most construction projects is to check zoning regulations. CityStructure report gives you all these information. Take the report with you and review it with the zoning staff to determine what type of zoning permit is needed. With the CityStructure report on hand, you'll have a very productive meting with the City staff.
First, start by checking how the zoning regulations influence the value of your property.
Berkeley has three types of Zoning Approval:
1. Zoning Certificate (ZC) – for projects that are specifically listed in the Zoning Ordinance as allowed as matter of right.
- Issued by: Land Use Planning staff
- Time Frame: Issued over-the-counter at Permit Service Center
- Public comment: no
- Projects that fall within this category: - Minor & Major Remodels that conform with all zoning ordinance requirements
Additions that conform with all zoning ordinance requirements, including those that do not exceed 600 square feet in area or more than 15% of the lot area, whichever is less, provided that the average height of the proposed addition does not exceed 14 – 16 feet, depending on the Zoning District.
2. Administrative Use Permit (AUP) – discretionary permit requires administrative review and determination and public notification
- Issued by: Zoning Officer (ZO)
- Time Frame: See table below
- Process: Pre-submission requirements, submission and review, appeal period after decision (20 days)
- Public comment: Yes. Notice of Decision is posted, which starts the appeal period.
- Projects that fall within this category: Minor & Major Remodels that do not conform with all zoning ordinance requirements
Additions that exceed 600 square feet in area or 15% of the lot area, whichever is less, or that have an average height that exceeds 14 – 16 feet, depending on the Zoning District.
- Additions to an existing building that do not conform with existing zoning ordinances (e.g. set backs, building height)
3. Use Permit (UP) – discretionary permit issued by Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) after a public hearing
- Issued by: ZAB
- Time Frame: See table bellow
- Process: Pre-submission requirements, public hearing (14 - 21 days notice), appeal period (14 days)
- Public Comment: Yes. Notice of public hearing is provided with on-site signs and mailing to residents and property owners within 300 feet.
A building permit is required when a building or structure is erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished. There are some exemptions to this requirement. Electric, mechanical, and plumbing permits may also be needed, depending on the proposed work.
Applications for building permits are filed at the Permit Service Center. Plans should be submitted in electronic format. View Turnaround Times for Plan Check.
Please note that all financial transactions need to be concluded by 4:30 p.m., which means a customer needs to be signed in no later than 4 p.m.
The following services are available at the Permit Service Center to assist you with submittal of building permit and other applications:
2. Over the Counter Plan Review: over-the-counter plan review services daily. Hours are available on the Location and Hours page. Over-the-counter plan review is for projects that can be completed within 30 minutes or less. While you wait, your project plans are reviewed by all applicable agencies. Projects that typically can be reviewed over-the-counter review include kitchen and bath remodels and new or replacement deck and stairs.
California offers the option go through a streamlined permit process if the homeowners add more units on their single-family property. You can out if your project is eligible for the streamline permitting process under Senate Bill 9 (SB9) and how much you could build on the property by going through this check list.
How to get permits fast?
Construction / Inspection
To schedule a permitted construction inspection online go to: http://www.CityofBerkeley.info/BuildingInspections. More information is available on the Building and Safety Inspections webpage.
Modifications to Approved Plans
Any changes that occur to the approved building plans will restart the process including requiring zoning approval. Any of the three zoning approval processes (ZC, AUP or UP) may apply.