Building/Planning Division FAQsDepartment Home

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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Building FAQs

What requires a building permit?

The Building Division has a handout entitled "Required Permits" (pdf) that lists items and projects that require a building permit. This handout can be accessed through the link above, mailed to you or you may pick one up during our regular office hours.

 

 

 

What is an over-the-counter permit?

Over-the-counter permits are permits that can be issued without the need for plan review. Some types of over-the-counter permits are: re-roofs, water heater, furnace and A/C repair/replacements, electric service panel upgrades, and other miscellaneous repairs. For over-the-counter types of building permits, Reroof, Water Heater, Furnace/AC, Electrical Panel Upgrade, you may apply online. 

 

The first time you use our online system you will have to sign up as a Registered User to get access to most of our online services, like applying for a permit. You will be able to pay online via credit card and receive your permit by email once it has been issued.

 

Or print out the permit application from the Forms Section of this website and email it to cdd@ci.petaluma.ca.us for processing. You will need to appear in person to pay for the permit once you have received an email/call that it is ready to be issued.

Do I need a permit to re-roof my house?

Yes, a building permit is required. The cost of the permit is based on the valuation of the work, including material and labor costs.

 

You may apply online. The first time you use our online system you will have to sign up as a Registered User to get access to most of our online services, like applying for a permit. You will be able to pay online via credit card and receive your permit by email once it has been issued.

 

The permit can also be issued over the counter and only takes a few minutes.

Do I need a permit to install a spa and hot tub?

If it is a plug cord connected spa/hot tub, the only permit required is for any new electrical work needed to operate the spa/hot tub. If it is a hardwired electrical connection spa/hot tub, permits are required for the spa, electrical work, and plumbing work.

Do I need a permit to rebuild or build a new deck?

A building permit is required if the deck is more than 30 inches above grade, and planning department approval is required for decks 18 inches or more.

When do I arrange for inspections after my permit is issued?

The required inspections are listed on your copy of the permit. All work must be inspected before it is covered up. For example, we must inspect the footing/foundation after it is excavated; installation of steel reinforcement, before concrete is poured. A minimum of twenty-four hours’ notice is required prior to each inspection. Inspections can be requested by going online or calling 707.778.4479. The first time you use our online system you will have to sign up as a Registered User to get access to our online services, like applying for a permit.

Does dry rot repair require a permit?

Yes, dry rot repair does require a permit. It takes only a few minutes to complete the permit application and state, in writing, the scope of work. Most of the time a copy of the termite report is adequate. The permit fee is based on the valuation of the work, including material and labor costs.

Can I use the ceiling joist in the garage as a storage area by adding plywood?

No. The ceiling joist or the lower cord of the trusses is not designed to support storage loads.

Do I need a permit to replace my single pane windows with…

dual glaze windows?
If the window(s) size remains the same and no new openings are added and windows are not converted to doors a permit is not required. The Planning Division should be consulted to ensure that the replacemet window(s) comply with the associated guidelines. (i.e. Historic Districts)

My neighbors have re-landscaped/re-graded their yard and…

now their rainwater runs into my yard. What can the Building Division do about this?
Lot-to-lot drainage is a civil matter and the Building Division is not involved. Landscaping and the re-grading for landscaping do not require a permit.

What will my permit cost?

The cost of the permit depends on the type and size of the project. The fees are calculated on the total valuation of the project (based on a Uniform Building Code formula) as well as the amount of plumbing, mechanical and electrical work associated with the project.

How long does Plan Check take?

Plan check can take 15-20 days to complete the process. Applicants should refer to the Plan Check Turn-Around Time handout for more information.

How can I search for property, zoning, or permit information?

You can use our new online tool. and without registering or logging in you can search for property, zoning, or permit information.

 

These records only go back to 2001, however. If you want information further back you will have to either come in to the counter or fill out the online Retention Request Form

 

Planning Services FAQ's

What is my zoning?

If you would like to try finding this out yourself, please go to the Public GIS Portal and click on the link to enter the GIS Public Web Site. Once you are in the application, click on the “Zoning” tab, and then the “Search” button in the left bar. Type in your address following the instructions. If you have difficulty with this, please contact our Permit Processing Technicians at petalumaplanning@ci.petaluma.ca.us or 707.778.4470.

 

I live in a historic district and want to make changes to my home. What do I need to do?

Changes to buildings in Petaluma's Historic Districts require careful review. Please see the Historic Preservation section for more details.

 

I would like to start a home based business. What do I need to do?

You will need to apply for a permit before starting one. Please see the Home Occupation Permit Application Form for more information.

 

I'd like to replace my fence. Do I need a permit?

Yes, a Fence Permit(pdf) from the Community Development Department is required. Please note that the height, style, and location of fencing is regulated by the zoning district in which your property is located. The Planning Division will assist you in obtaining the required information.

 

I'd like construct an addition to my house. What do I need to know?

By contacting the Permit Processing Technician in the Community Development Department (707-778-4470), and giving him/her your address, you can learn the regulations for your property regarding height, setbacks, lot coverage, and design review, as applicable.

Does the City regulate trees?

The City does have a Heritage Tree Ordinance, and invites property owners to nominate their tree(s) to the register, so that they can be protected from removal. The City also requires a permit to remove trees in the public right-of-way (usually trees in the planter strip between the curb and sidewalk). Tree removal permits are available from the Community Development Department.

Is the City in an earthquake zone?

No. Although many parts of California, including Petaluma, are subject to earthquakes, earthquake zones are specifically designated areas based on information from the State Department of Mines and Geology. Petaluma is not in a designated earthquake zone.

Is my property in a flood zone?

The City keeps on file the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM). Please contact a Permit Processing Technician and give him/her your address to determine if you are in the floodplain.

Can I subdivide my property?

Potentially. This depends on the General Plan land use designation and zoning district in which your property is located (which regulates minimum lot size). Contact the Permit Processing Technician in the Community Development Department (707.778.4470), and give him/her your address, you will be contacted with the regulations for the property in question.

Contact Information

11 English St.
Petaluma, CA 94952
phone: 707.778.4301
fax: 707.778.4498
email: cdd@ci.petaluma.ca.us

Building
phone: 707.778.4301
email: cdd@ci.petaluma.ca.us

Hours: 8am - 4pm
Monday through Thursday – Closed every Friday

Planning
phone: 707.778.4470
email: petalumaplanning@ci.petaluma.ca.us

Hours: 8am - 5pm
Mondays through Thursdays, Closed Fridays


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