Step by step

Get a building permit to do a Soft Story retrofit

Follow these instructions for Soft Story permits.

The Department of Building Inspection reviews every building permit application for life safety and building code compliance.

Most Soft Story projects can be reviewed over-the-counter. Review our instructions to prepare the right forms and book a time to submit your building permit application.


Check if your project is a mandatory Soft Story

Some wood-frame, multi-family buildings in San Francisco require seismic upgrades under the mandatory Soft Story program.

Search the Soft Stories property list to see if you are affected.

Learn about the Soft Story program.

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Create your plans

Hire a designer, architect, or engineer to prepare your plans.

Bring 2 sets of plans when you submit your building permit application.

Email is you are not sure if your project needs plans.

Create your building project plans

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Fill out forms about your role on the project

We need to know your role on the project to apply for an OTC permit.

See: Who can obtain a building permit

Pick the form that applies to you.

Print them and bring them with you when apply for a building permit.

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Fill out the permit application form

You will need property and construction details to fill out our building permit application.

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Fill out the Green Building form

All building permit applications must fill out our Green Building forms.

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Submit your application


2 to 8 hours

Come to the Permit Center to submit your application.

If your project needs plans, bring 2 sets of plans when you submit your building permit application.

We will review your application, check your plans, and route your application to the required stations. You will get a building permit application number.

You may need to come back on a separate day to finish your plans.

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Recheck your plans

You may need to update your plans to address plan check comments.

If you need to revise your plans, recheck your plans with the plan checker from your first review. Schedule with your plan checker by email.

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Get related permits

During your permit review process, you may also need to:

  • Get a street space permit
  • Apply for trades permits

For registered contractors, use instant online permits for electrical and plumbing.

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Pay your remaining fees and get your job card


3 to 4.5% of construction cost

Use our checklist of what to bring to get your job card for an issued permit.

You must have your job card before you can start construction.

Post your construction document at the construction site.

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Last updated November 29, 2022