Structural Design for Commercial Buildings: What You Need to Know about Building Permits

Posted by Hogan Land Services on May 10, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Your company has recently purchased a new plot of land for an office park or a business headquarters, and you are preparing to break ground on the project. Before you get started, though, it’s important to understand what your obligations are under the State’s building permit requirements. By the California Building Standards Code, it is illegal for any structure to be “erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted, or demolished” without a building permit.

commercial-building-permitsThis rule applies to all types of building projects, which means you are obligated to follow it whether you are planning a residential, commercial, or industrial construction project. In other words, if you are planning a construction project and are asking the question of “Do I need a building permit?” the answer is usually “Yes”. There are exceptions for some types of renovations, or for minor builds such as sheds or decks, but those exceptions are more likely to apply to residential projects. For commercial buildings, it’s always better to check with the proper authorities to see if you need a building permit.

Getting Your Hands on a Building Permit

If you are working on a structural design for a brand new commercial building, or if you are preparing to convert an existing building into a commercial site for your business, you are going to need a building permit.

To obtain a building permit, you will need to go through your local building department. A building official needs to review your site plans, architectural plans, and structural design, as well as inspect the site itself to approve the project. Among other things, it is the job of the building official to make sure that your proposed project is in line with all City, County, and State Building Codes. California has its own building code, but specific requirements can also vary depending on where your project is located. As a result, no two permitting processes are quite the same.

To get started with the permit application process for your commercial building project, click here. The link will take you to the website maintained by California’s Contractors State License Board. Their page includes links to all the individual City and County building departments in the state of California. To find out what the application steps are in your area, locate the building department page for your city or county.

Many City and County agencies will provide a checklist on their website of what they require for a building permit and how to apply. You may be able to fill out your building permit application entirely online. In other cases, you may need to fill out carbon copy forms and submit your permit application in person to the appropriate agency.

The city or county building department page might also include details about permit costs. How much you pay for a commercial building project will vary depending on multiple factors, including your location and the nature of your property. For instance, you will pay more for a building permit if you are starting a brand-new construction project than if you are remodeling an existing structure. In many cases, you will pay a flat rate fee for a permit and then pay an additional fee per square foot, which means that bigger projects will usually entail a more expensive permit.

Permit Denied: How to Handle a Rejected Permit Application

Ideally, your quest for a commercial building permit will be smooth sailing from start to finish.  First, you will find the website for your local building authority, apply with your submittal package including but not limited to your site plans, architectural plans and structural plans. Then,  wait a few weeks (or months, depending on the complexity of your project), and receive plan check comments made by the various departments needed to approve your permit. Once you have addressed the plan check comments you will receive an issued building permit. With a building permit in hand, you will be clear to hire a building crew and get started.

In some cases, though, your local building department might deny your application for a permit. Usually, if a permit is rejected, it means there is something wrong with your submittal package that needs to be resolved before you can get the go ahead to build. If there is a code violation in the design, you should get feedback on that from the building official. You can then use the building official’s comments to revise your designs and reapply for a permit.

At Hogan Land Services, we have connections with the local building departments in the Bay Area. For questions about how we can help you get started, give us a call at 877-544-2104.