Welcome to Building Division

The Building Services Division processes building permits for residential and commercial buildings and structures within the unincorporated areas of the County of San Diego. County staff review plans for compliance with the following:

New- Removing Barriers to Housing

To address the housing shortage in the region, on May 24, 2023, the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors directed a wide range of actions to assist development in unincorporated communities. Such actions include streamlining permitting processes and guaranteed reduced plan review times for certain types of housing projects. PDS has developed Guaranteed Review Timelines for certain housing projects, including discretionary projects that are required to go through environmental review per the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as well as ministerial permits like building permits. To qualify for a guaranteed review time, the project must a be a 100% deed restricted affordable housing project (all units), a workforce housing project, or a housing project within a Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) efficient or infill area as identified in the County's Transportation Study Guide. Additional information for eligible projects can be found here https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/pds/grt.html .

Building Services Highlights

New: Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Handbook

The County has a new ADU Handbook with detailed information about ADUs. It includes commentary about the types and sizes of ADUs, discussion of topics of consideration, and a summary of the steps to build an ADU, from start to finish. This, along with our main ADU webpage is a good starting point if you plan to build an ADU.

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Building Plans

The County has building plans you can use for a dwelling unit. The plans are approximately 85% complete. You must fill in project-specific information to have a complete set of plans. You can choose from multiple floor plans.

Simplified Permitting

The Homeowner’s and Business Owner’s Relief Acts simplify your building permit requirements if your project meets certain criteria. A summary of these Acts is available.

Issue Resolution

Staying current with all code requirements can be challenging and sometime the code can have different interpretations. We have two ways of resolving conflicting interpretations: Second Opinions and Project Issue Resolution (PIR) Conferences. Please visit our Issue Resolution page for more information.

Permit Overview

Permit Center in Kearny Mesa

We have a physical Permit Center open Monday through Friday, except County holidays. The Permit Center is a central location for you to process permits. We are here to answer your questions before you submit your plans, while your plans are in review, and during construction. You can complete all in-person parts of the permitting process at the Permit Center.

Online Services

For your convenience, we have various online services. This includes applying for simple building permits, checking the status of your permit, scheduling inspections, and paying fees. These services and other information about your permit are located on Accela Citizen Access. Please see the Help Guides for step-by-step instructions.

Permit Exemptions

Certain structures meeting specific requirements (for example, size and location) may be exempt from building permits. A summary of qualifying structures can be found in the Building Permit Requirements. If you are unsure if your project qualifies for exemption, please contact us. Please note that all projects must comply with the Zoning Ordinance, Public Health and Safety Codes, and any other County, State, or Federal regulations, even if a building permit is not required.

Permit Requirements and Conditions of Approval

Project-specific requirements are set when your project is assigned a Permit Record ID (or “Plan Check Record ID”). These are your project’s Conditions of Approval. Each condition must be met before your permit can be issued. We recommend reviewing your Conditions of Approval early because some items (for example, Fire District Approval, Flood Control, Septic Review, Driveway Review, etc.) may take longer. Please note that changes to your permit’s scope often require revisions to your Conditions of Approval. To avoid delays at permit issuance, please clearly identify any scope changes in between review cycles. A sample Conditions of Approval is available for your information.

Requirements Specific to the San Diego County

Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Requirements

Many areas in the County are in high fire zones. The County recognizes that wildfires can cause a lot of damage. To help limit damage, the County requires special WUI features for projects in high-risk areas. A summary of these County-specific requirements can be found in the Wildland-Urban Interface handout.

Pool Enclosure and Safety Feature Requirements

The County has amended the California Building Code to require four safety measures for pools and spas: (1) enclosure, (2) safety feature accepted by the County, (3) safety feature accepted by the State of California, and (4) entrapment avoidance. Descriptions of each can be found in this guidance document.

 January 2024 flood re-builds

If your home suffered damage due to the January 2024 winter storms, and you are located in the unincorporated area of the County, you may be eligible for benefits from a program known as the Homeowner Relief Act.  For more information, please reach out by email.