Building Permits

A building permit is required before any person, firm or corporation shall erect, construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, improve, remove, convert or demolish any building or structure. A list of projects that do NOT require a building permit may be viewed here.

Building Permit Process

A typical review process for obtaining a building permit includes:

  1. City of Orinda - Planning Department: All projects that require a building permit require review and approval from the Planning Department, except for Projects Exempt from Planning Review. The Planning Department reviews projects to ensure zoning compliance with the Orinda Municipal Code as well as for Waste Management Plan compliance, for projects such as re-roofs. 
    • Building Permit Application Form (PDF)
    • Plan Set Checklist (PDF)
    • Neighbor Consent Form (PDF)
      Step 1Submit your online building permit application here. A limited number of in-person plan checks are available by appointment only. Schedule an appointment for an in-person plan check here.
      Note: All submitted documents must be in PDF format. Plans sets must be a minimum 11"x17" size.
      Step 2Staff will review your submittal. The planner assigned to your application will email you with any comments, clarifications, or questions. 
      Step 3If your application is deemed incomplete, the applicant must addresses all plan check comments. (If your application is deemed complete, skip to Step 4). 
      Step 4Once it is confirmed your application complies with the Orinda Municipal Code, the assigned planner will digitally stamp and sign your project plans. You will also receive an emailed invoice with payment instructions. Stamped plans will not be provided until payment is received.
      Step 5Applicant pays plan check fees. Payment is accepted by check (mailed or dropped-off) or credit card (online payment). 
      Step 6Once payment is received, the signed documents will be emailed to you and you may proceed with submittal to all other applicable agencies listed below. Planning approval is not a building permit. Only the County Building Department issues building permits. Each agency has their own application process and fees.
  2. Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (if applicable): Certain projects may require approval from the Sanitary District for existing or new sewer connections. Please contact the Sanitary District here for more detail.
  3. Moraga-Orinda Fire District (if applicable): Certain projects may require approval from the Fire District. Please contact the Fire District here for more detail.
  4. Contra Costa County - Building Department (required): Building permits are reviewed and issued by the Contra Costa County Building Department. The City of Orinda does not have its own building department and contracts with Contra Costa County for building services. The Building Department reviews permit applications to ensure all projects meet current building code requirements. The Building Department requires that all applicable agencies have reviewed and approved the proposed project before processing any building permit. 

Property Records

The City of Orinda does not maintain copies of building permits. To view or obtain copies of building permits, Contra Costa County provides the following services:

  • Permit Lookup - To view building permit history, any member of the public may use the ePermits Center.
  • Building Permit Records - To obtain physical copies of plans or other building permit information, please complete the Records Research Request Form.

Waste Management Plan (Green Halo)

The following projects must divert at least 65% of the construction and demolition debris to an approved recycling facility:

  • Residential additions/alterations that affect 1,000 square feet; 
  • Residential additions/alterations that have a project valuation of $50,000 or greater; or
  • Residential additions/alterations that increase the structure’s conditioned area, volume, or size.

If a project meets any of these thresholds, at the time of building permit, the Orinda Planning Department will place a "WMP Hold" on the permit. All recycling reporting must be completed on Green Halo Systems, a free online reporting system. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need a permit for an emergency back-up generator? Yes, a homeowner must obtain a building permit from the Building Department for a permanent residential back-up generator. Planning Department review is not required for permanent residential emergency back-up generator. A memo detailing this decision may be viewed here.
  • Do I need a permit for roof-mounted solar panels on my home? Yes, a building permit is required for any solar project. Planning Department review is not required for flush, roof-mounted solar on residential properties. A memo formalizing this decision may be viewed here.
  • How many plan set copies do I need to submit? As of March 2020, only electronic submittal is being accepted.
  • What size do the plan sets need to be? The plan sheets must be a minimum 11" x 17" page size. As of March 2020, only electronic submittal is being accepted.
  • What plan sheets does the Planning Department review? Typical plan sheets the Planning Department reviews are the site plan, floor plan, elevations, sections, grading plans, and landscape plans. The Planning Department does not review Title 24, electrical, mechanical, or structural plans or calculations. These plan sheets are reviewed by the Building Department. 
  • Do you route my plans to the Building Department? No, once your plans have been approved by the Planning Department, the applicant must submit their plans to all other applicable agencies. 
  • Who do I call for inspections? All building inspections are handled by the Building Department.
  • Why is there is hold on my permit? Often times, a hold is placed on a building permit for either a Waste Management Plan if the project meets one of the thresholds listed above or a Planning final inspection if the project went through discretionary review (such as Design Review, Elevated Deck Permit, Exception Permit, etc.). Please contact the Planning Department at (925) 253-4210 if you are unsure what hold(s) are on the permit.
  • Are there any easements on my property? The City does not maintain a list of easements on private property. Please refer to your Title Report for all recorded easements on your property.
  • Does the City maintain a list of approved architects/contractors/design professionals? The City does not maintain a list of approved professionals and is unable to make any recommendations.