Apply for ADU permits online in San Francisco

Posted on
February 28, 2021

Are you looking for a faster, lower-cost way to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU)?

Many ADU designers and builders offer standardized construction plans that are preapproved by different cities in California. Because they have already went though the part of the plan review process, they typically offer the fastest and the lowest-cost permit process.
As an ADU vendor to qualify for this preapproval review process, they need to meet all of these criteria:
  • Must be a detached ADU project;
  • Lot must be zoned residential and have an existing single-family home or duplex;
  • Lot must not be located a geohazard, landslide, or flood zone (the ADU Universal Checklist provides instructions for determining this information); and
  • Lot must not be located in a Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) area.  

What is that permit cost for an ADU?

Permit fees cost 6% to 9% of building costs.  You can pay the fees electronically.

How long it takes to receive permits for an ADU?

You'll receive an answer to your reviewed application in 14 days.

As homeowner, I want to use preapproved ADU plans. How do I proceed?

It is highly advised that you do not pull the permit yourself, but rather have the vendor or contractor pull the permit. This keeps the liability for the work with the professional service.

Answer these few questions about your project to find out if you may qualify to get advantage of the benefits California offers to the home owners who want to add more units on their property.

Want to get your permits fast?

Steps on how to apply for ADU

1. Check if your project qualifies for this application      

These are the type of work related ADU that are accepted on-line:
  • Expansions required for an ADU
  • Excavations required for an ADU
  • New construction for a detached ADU
  • Interior remodel work to create independent access to the ADU
For all non-ADU construction, see instructions from the Department of Building Inspection.
For unit legalizations, follow the Legalization Program process.

2. Gather your project location information                            

Make sure you have this information about the project location:

  • Block and lot
  • Street address
  • Existing and proposed dwelling units

You must confirm that the property owner has authorized this work.

3. Gather your project details                

Make sure you add these details:

  • Estimated construction cost
  • Proposed ADUs unit type and square footage

4. Review the Street Tree checklist                  

You may need to plant trees on the street. This street tree checklist can tell you whether your project needs this.

If you do not need to plant a street tree, do not submit these forms.

If you do need to plant trees, you have an option of planting a tree or paying an in-lieu fee.

If you choose to plant a tree, fill out the tree planting permit and attach it with your form.

If you choose to pay the in-lieu free, note that on your plans.

5. Download and fill out these forms.      

You must upload these forms with your application.

Each form will take about 10 to 30 minutes to fill out.

6. Create PDFs of your plans                    

Follow these rules to create PDFs of plans.

PDFs must be editable. Do not submit locked, password-protected, encrypted, or “restricted” documents.

Each upload must be less than 350 MB.

Title blocks must have your project address, sheet count, and sheet name.

Every sheet must have the signature and stamp of the professional of record. Use a scanned graphic signature with a PDF stamp.

7. Submit your application                  

You will be asked for:

  • Your project location
  • Your project details
  • Your contact info
  • Billing contact info

You will also need to upload completed PDFs of the required forms and PDFs of your plans.

This will take about 20 minutes.


                       Submit here            

After you apply      


After submitting the above forms and plans, planning department will send you a confirmation email with your planning application number.

Use our Property Information Map (PIM) for updates about your application. It will take 1 day for your record to appear in PIM.

A planner will email you about next steps within 14 business days.


You'll also receive a notification with the cost that has to be paid electronically. We will send you instructions.

After approval

Once your permit is approved, a planner will coordinate with you to verify your licensed contractor information.

You'll receive by email your job card to start construction.

Happy ADU!      

Find out if your project qualifies for streamline permitting under Senate Bill 9 (SB9) to get the permits fast

Posted on
Permit Process

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