Construction in the City is regulated through the issuance of building permits to ensure structures and their supporting facilities are safe and meet minimum codes and standards. Understanding when a permit is required is critical to the success of your project. Permits are maintained as public records that validate construction meets current codes, adding value to your property. Your home or business is an investment. If your project does not comply with the codes adopted by your community, the value of your investment may be significantly reduced and property insurers may not cover work performed without permits and inspections.
Protect yourself, your investment, and building occupants by ensuring appropriate permits are obtained when needed.
Our helpful staff verifies permit applications received by the City are complete and approved by appropriate Departments and other local Agencies, prior to permit issuance. In general, Planning Division clearance is required for most building permit applications prior to Building & Safety Division submission for plan check or permit approvals. When required, plan check fees are payable at the time of initial plan submittal. Upon final approval of plans for a permit application, counter staff verifies that all information is current and accurate, collects outstanding permit fees, stamps building plans approved and issues the appropriate permit.
Please review the FAQ’s and Tips section below for further information on building permit requirements:
FAQs and Tips
- A building permit is an official document or certificate issued by the City authorizing the work to regulate performance of a specified construction activity.
- Permits help to ensure that minimum codes, regulations, local ordinances and safety requirements are properly followed in residential and commercial structures.
- There are several different types of permits, based on the type of construction:
- Building Permits
- Electrical Permits
- Plumbing Permits
- Mechanical Permits
- Application for a permit may be made at the public Permit Services counter in the One Stop Shop. You may also need to submit construction drawings for plan check review that detail your proposed improvements. There are many handouts to help you through this process and our counter staff can provide expert guidance if you need assistance.
Permits help to regulate the safety and establish minimum standards for construction in our homes, business, and community.
- Permits are required for most all construction projects. Any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by code, or to cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permits.
- Work exempt from a permit includes the following:
- One story detached accessory structures used as a tool or storage shed, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet.
- Fences not over seven (7) feet high (Approval may be required from the Planning Division for fences located in the front yard setback)
- Oil derricks
- Retaining walls that are not over 4-feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge of impounding Class I, II or IIIA liquids.
- Water tanks supported directly on grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2:1.
- Sidewalks and driveways not more than 30-inches above adjacent grade, and not over any basement or story below and are not part of an accessible route.
- Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work.
- Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.
- Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R-3 occupancy that are less than 24 inches deep, do not exceed 5,000 gallons and are installed entirely above ground.
- Shade cloth structures constructed for a nursery or agricultural purposes, not including service systems.
- Swings and other playground equipment accessory to a detached one-and two-family dwellings.
- Window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall and do not require additional support of Groups R-3 and U occupancies.
- Non fixed and movable fixtures, cases, racks, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches in height.
- Many types of permits may be issued to the owner of the property or their duly authorized agent, or to an appropriately licensed contractor.
- The appropriately licensed contractor must provide proof of licensing, available for verification through the California Contractors State Licensing Board and the contractor must obtain a current City of Riverside business license.
Do I need a City of Riverside Business License?
If you are a business entity doing business within the City of Riverside, then yes, you will need to have a valid City Business License. If you have specific questions concerning Business Licenses in the City of Riverside, contact the Business License Division for assistance.
What about Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Contractors State license law requires that all California licensed contractors maintain Workers’ Compensation Insurance coverage if they have employees. The law also requires that the contractor present the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Certificate to the Building and Safety Department at the time of permit issuance.
- Some permits can be issued same day, over the counter such as: simple water heater change outs, residential service meter upgrades, reroofs, re-stucco, and simple patio covers. Other projects may require that plans be submitted for plan review. See plan check turnaround times handout here (need link here)
- Building permit fees vary according to the scope of work. Please call Permit Counter at (951) 826-5697 for building permit fee information. Building Permit Fees can be found directly on the City website.
- Permits become invalid unless the work on the site authorized by such permit is commenced within 180 days after its issuance, or if the work authorized by such permit is suspended or abandoned for a period of 180 days after the time the work is commenced.
- Permits for residential structures shall become invalid unless the work on the site authorized by such permit is commenced within 12 months after its issuance.
- The building official is authorized to grant, in writing, one or more extensions of time, for periods not more than 180 days each. The extension shall be requested in writing and justifiable cause demonstrated.