Step by step

Get an OTC permit for your exterior residential project

Follow these instructions for doors, windows, reroofing, decks, fences, and other common exterior projects.

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

Most exterior residential 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.

If you are a registered contractor, you can apply reroofing permits online.

If your project is not eligible for OTC review, follow these steps for in-house review.

1

Check if your project qualifies for OTC

These exterior projects qualify for over-the-counter review:

  • Windows
  • Exterior doors
  • Garage doors replacement
  • Re-roofing
  • Minor dry rot repairs

Decks, stairs, and fences

  • Exterior siding repairs or replacement
  • Repairing decks and stairs (less than 50%)
  • Decks less than 10 feet above grade that meet Planning setbacks
  • Roof decks in buildable area that meet Planning setbacks
  • Fences taller than 6 feet in side or rear yard (max of 10 feet) or taller than 3 feet in front yard

(Shorter fences do not require a permit.)

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2

Check if your project needs plans

You need plans if your project includes:

  • New windows and exterior doors
  • Decks less than 10 feet above grade that meet planning setbacks
  • Roof decks in buildable area that meet planning setbacks
  • Fences

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

Create your building project plans

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

Email techq@sfgov.org is you are not sure if your project needs plans.

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3

Check if your project needs Planning review

The SF Planning Department reviews plans to make sure they meet Planning Codes. Go to the Property Information Map

If you need plans, you can reference Planning’s Plan Submittal Guidelines.

 

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4

Fill out forms about your role on the project

We need to know your role on the project to apply for an OTC 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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5

Fill out the permit application form

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

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and

Fill out the Green Energy form

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

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6

Submit your application

Time:

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. 

You will get a building permit application number. 

We will review your application, check your plans, and route your application to the required stations in person.

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

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7

Recheck your plans

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

After you address plan check comments, recheck your plans with the plan checker from your first review. Schedule with your plan checker by email.

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8

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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9

Pay your fees and get your job card

Cost:

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.

Call or email us to schedule the appropriate inspections during your construction project.

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Last updated May 19, 2022