The Department of Building Inspection reviews every building permit application for life safety and building code compliance. Other City departments, including Planning, Public Works, Public Utilities Commission, SF Fire, Public Health, Community Investment and Infrastructure, and Environment, also review some projects for code compliance and may require additional documentation as part of your permit application.
All of the requirements below went through a legislative process before being incorporated into the San Francisco Municipal Code.
Follow these instructions to prepare the required information and submit your In-House Review building permit application and supporting documents online for electronic plan review (EPR).
We encourage you to print this webpage and use it as a checklist to ensure that your permit application and document submission is complete.
There are different building permit application processes for adding an accessory dwelling unit or a Development Agreement project or Affordable Housing. Permits just to add fire sprinklers or alarms to a building require a separate permit.
Get City Planning zoning approval for your project
Many building projects require zoning approval from the Planning Department. This approval is required prior to submitting a building permit. Go the Planning Department’s Approval webpage to determine your project’s zoning requirements and how to apply for the necessary approval.
Include the approval letter from either SF Planning or OCII when submitting your Building Permit application.
Complete other pre-application requirements as necessary
Your project may require additional analysis and certifications prior to applying for a building permit.
Please review all of these requirements to determine which of them are applicable to your project and complete them prior to submitting your building permit application.
If any required prerequisite reviews are not completed, your building permit application will not be accepted.
Water reuse systems – SF Public Utilities Commission
Projects creating 40,000 square feet or more of space are required to obtain approval of a Water Budget Application. Additionally, Onsite water reuse systems for the collection, treatment and use of alternate water sources are required for new development projects 100,000 square feet or larger.
Stormwater Management – SF Public Utilities Commission
An approved preliminary Stormwater Control Plan is required for projects (or subdivisions) creating or replacing 5,000 square feet or more impervious surfaces in combined sewer areas or 2,500 square feet in separate sewer areas.
Fire Flow – SF Fire
To ensure an adequate water supply in the event of a fire, a fire flow study is needed for new construction projects and for projects that add new floor area to existing buildings and the findings of the study must be included in the plans for the building permit. For the building permit to be approved, you must provide sufficient water to a site to protect it in the event of a fire.
Construction Waste Tracking – Environment Department
Construction waste must be tracked for the following projects:
- New construction
- Commercial additions 1,000 square feet or greater
- Commercial remodels or alterations that cost $200,000 or more
- Full building demolitions
- Residential additions or alterations that increase the building’s conditioned area, volume or size
Public Right of Way Permits – Public Works
Projects including work within the public right of way, such as construction and/or occupancy of the street or sidewalks, including installation of utilities, require separate permit(s) from the Department of Public Works.
The project scope determines the types of permits required based on this criteria.
Contact BSMPermitDivision@sfdpw.org with specific questions about Public Works permitting requirements.
Transportation Demand – City Planning
A transportation demand management plan is required for projects that will:
- Create ten or more dwelling units.
- Create ten or more bedrooms of group housing.
- Add 10,000 square feet of non-residential space.
- Require certain changes of use (details here in Sec. 169.3(a)).
Site Assessment and Mitigation – Public Health
Projects that disturb 50 cubic yards of soil and are located in the Maher Ordinance area may be required to perform site assessment and mitigation.
Maher Ordinance areas are considered by the Department of Public Health to have known or suspected contamination, including sites with historical industrial uses, areas near freeways, and current or historical underground storage tanks.
Review the Maher Ordinance Frequently Asked Questions and submit an application to Public Health
Dust Control – Public Health
Site specific dust control plans are needed for projects one-half acre or greater and within 1,000 feet of sensitive receptors.
Environmental Mitigation at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard – Public Health
Projects located on a Hunters Point Shipyard parcel may need to perform enhanced environmental mitigations.
Review the Health Code Article 31 webpage and regulations and submit an application to Public Health
Labor Compliance Bond – Controller’s Office
Projects creating 10 or more units of housing must secure and file a surety bond with the Controller’s Office.
Asbestos Remediation – Building Inspection
An asbestos report is required prior to applying for a demolition permit.
Any necessary remediation needs to be completed prior to applying for a demolition permit.
Expanded Compliance Control - Building Inspection
Projects associated with someone featured on the Expanded Compliance Control list must obtain pre-authorization from DBI Inspection Services prior to applying for a building permit.
Contact Inspection Services at email@example.com to schedule a site inspection to confirm the accuracy of the plans to be submitted with the permit application.
Valid address – Building Inspection
Decide if your project needs a Full or Site Permit
Selecting whether to apply for a Full or Site permit is an important decision as it determines the process for reviewing a project. It cannot be changed without resubmitting the permit application.
Many customers prefer the more condensed Full Permit process. Projects with more iterative design and engineering may be better served by the Site Permit process. These are often projects that will cost more than $25 million. (See more details in the Administrative Bulletin 032.)
Full Permit requirements
- Initial submittal includes: Architectural, Structural and Mechanical/Electrical plans, and Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency information.
- Two payments: initial filing fee and issuance fee.
Site Permit requirements
- Initial submittal limited to Architectural plans.
- Minimum of four payments: filing fee, issuance fee, addendum submittal fee, addendum issuance fee.
- Submission of addenda after approval of:
- Site permit issuance
- Addendum schedule by the plan check supervisor
Prepare to apply
Fill out the appropriate building permit application form for your project. Depending on the scope of work, multiple forms may be necessary.
Complete your Department of Public Health checklist
Include additional Full Permit application documents
Full permit applications may require these additional documents, depending on the scope of work and site details. For Site Permits, the following items are required during the Addenda review phase.
- New buildings require an acoustical analysis report. For more information, see San Francsico Building Code Section 1207.7.
- Structural calculations: Required for projects that include any structural work. Your architect, engineer or design professional will identify and provide the required calculations.
Format plans created by an architect, engineer or designer
Your licensed architect, engineer or designer should produce construction plans based on the review being conducted.
Applications, plans and addenda must be submitted electronically.
The City conducts plan review and provides comments using Bluebeam Revu software but applicants can also access comments via emailed pdf files. See below for instructions. All plan sets must include a Back Check page.
Bluebeam users should follow these formatting instructions.
Non-Bluebeam users and Mac users should follow these formatting instructions.
Complete these application requirements as necessary
Your project may require additional documentation when applying for a building permit. Please review all of these requirements to determine which of them are applicable to your project.
Special inspection and structural observation - Building Inspection
Most projects featuring structural work are required to submit a special inspection and structural observation form.
Geotechnical report - Building Inspection
A geotechnical report is required for new construction, additions of 50% more floor area to a building or any other condition listed in Information Sheet S-05.
Slope protection - Building Inspection
Unauthorized Dwelling Unit - Building Inspection
Projects to legalize an existing dwelling unit that was constructed without a permit are required to submit an unauthorized dwelling unit screening form; additional information is available in Information Sheet G-17.
Energy Efficiency - Building Inspection
Plan sets for projects in existing commercial buildings or publicly-financed or managed residential buildings must include a completed disabled access checklist and the design must meet the checklist requirements for the project.
Residential water sub-metering - SF Public Utilities Commission
New multi-family developments must document that sub-meters will be installed. Guidelines and exemption details are available here.
Water, Power, Sewer checklist - SF Public Utilities Commission
New construction or alternation projects must submit this form if answering "yes' to any question on the checklist.
Tree planting and protection - Public Works
New construction or addition of a garage, dwelling unit, curb cut or 500 square feet or more to a building are required to submit a tree planting and protection checklist.
If planting new street trees is necessary, you must submit a tree planting application.
School facility fees - SF Unified School District
All building permit applications must include a completed School Facility Fee form. Guidelines and exemption details are available here.
Submit your application
Once you have completed everything above and gathered your documents, click the link below to submit your building permit application and supporting documents using our online portal.
Projects located on properties with an active notice of violation will be routed to the relevant DBI Inspections Services division for review and processing. DBI staff will work with you to either identify what needs to be done to address the code violation and/or authorize the permit application to be processed.
Go here for additional information on how to fix your building and housing code violation.
If you have questions or need assistance in submitting your application, please contact: SFplanreview@sfgov.org.
Receive your confirmation letters
Upon submission, you will receive a confirmation email indicating that your permit application was successfully transmitted.
You will receive a second confirmation email with a permit application number so you can check your application status in real time using the online Permit Tracking System.
Get your completeness review
After your project has been assigned a permit application number, we will review your submission to confirm that it is complete and all the requisite materials have been included.
Once that review is complete, we will email you a letter indicating that your application is complete and accepted, or that additional information is required before the application will be accepted for review.
See sample letters:
- Sample In-House Review Permit Application Completeness Letter
- Sample In-House Review Permit Incomplete Application Letter
You will also receive an email with a link to pay your permit filing fee. We will not begin to review your permit application and supporting documents until the permit filing fee is paid.
Respond to comments
Once you have paid the filing fee, the City will review your building permit application, design, and supporting documents for code compliance and provide comments or approve the application.
Once you respond to the comments, the relevant City departments will review your responses and provide additional comments or approve the application.
During plan review, it may be determined that you are required to get a California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal OSHA) Industrial Safety Permit for excavation if your project meets the following criteria:
- Construction or demolition of any building, structure, falsework or scaffolding more than 36 feet or three stories high.
- Construction of trenches or excavations which are five feet or deeper and into which a person is required to descend.
Obtain your permit
Once your permit application and supporting documents are approved, we will send you the following:
- Contractor statement to be completed if you are using a general contractor.
- Owner's Package if the property owner or authorized permit agent has changed.
- Sign posting form if the building has more than five units and tenants will be displaced.
- Green Halo tracking number if required.
Then we will send you invoices and a payment link for any potential fees that may due, including:
- Extension invoice if you are extending your permit.
- Addendum filing fee invoice for Site Permit projects.
Once you pay any potential fees, we'll send you links of your approved documents.
Full Permit applicants will receive a Job Card authorizing the start of construction.
- A separate mechanical, electrical or plumbing permit may be required. These trade permit applications are available at the Permit Center Help Desk on the 2nd Floor of 49 South Van Ness. Many California licensed contractors who have registered with DBI can also obtain these permits online.
Site Permit applicants will not be authorized to start construction and must submit the addenda schedule to firstname.lastname@example.org. Subsequent addenda are to be submitted using the building permit application portal.
Last updated February 23, 2024