Building Division Frequently Asked Questions


Do I need a permit?

There are two basic types of permits that are required in the City. 1) Design Review Permits: Most exterior alterations and/or site coverage changes require approval from the Planning Department. 2) Building Permits: Most work related to construction, electrical, re-roofing, plumbing, driveway replacements, etc. requires a building permit. Please contact the Department of Community Planning and Building to determine what permits might be needed for your project.

What are the construction hours?

The construction hours prescribed in Carmel Municipal Code Section 15.08.180 were established to minimize Class B noise impacts from construction activities on neighbors and the community in general. Class B noise includes, but is not limited to, noise created by power mowers, trimmers, home appliances, home workshops, vehicle repairs and testing and home construction projects. Work which does not create noise audible off the construction site Construction hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. No construction is permitted on Sunday.

Can I get approval to work outside of the approved construction hours?

The building official is authorized to approve a variance for work outside of the approved construction hours on a case-by-case basis.

What is a Certificate of Occupancy

A Certificate of Occupancy (CO) is provided upon satisfactory completion and approval of a project constructed under a permit from the City. The CO provides evidence to the contractor and property owner that the project in question was inspected by the City and found to be in general compliance with Municipal Code requirements at the time of final inspection.  For commercial projects, the CO is required to be posted on the premises in a accessible, visible location. For private residential projects, the property owner is expected to keep the CO in their personal property records, for more information see SOG 17-01 Certificates of Occupancy.

Can I get approval to occupy a building before issuance of the CO?

In some cases yes. Property owners may request a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) to allow them to use the structure for a specific time period while final work is completed. To be eligible for a TCO, the project must be substantially complete with all fire and life safety elements complete and approved. In addition, any other City department or other agency with jurisdiction must also approve issuance of the TCO, for more information see SOG 17-06 Temporary Certificates of Occupancy.

 Is a permit required to install a “French Drain” on my property?

Yes. The Carmel Municipal Code prohibits property owners from directing stormwater onto adjacent parcels or the public right-of-way. The City has developed guidelines for private stormwater drainage systems that include a options for surface drainage systems (rain gardens) which do not require a permit; prescriptive subsurface infiltration systems which require a permit; and subsurface infiltration systems requiring permits and engineered design. For more information on requirements for private stormwater drainage systems see SOG 17-07 Private Stormwater Drainage Systems.

Do I need to provide plans for all of the work proposed on a project at the time of building permit application?

We recognize that in many cases applicants wish to submit building plans for review and permitting while the buildings plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and fire protection systems undergo bidder design. In these instances the Building Official may approve deferred submittal of construction documents for these sub-permits upon completion of a Deferred Submittal Agreement listing the deferred elements and a projected date for their submittal, for more information on deferred submittals see SOG 17-16 Deferred Submittals.

What makes up a complete permit application?

A complete application is critical to timely permitting of your project. Missing documents and incomplete or inaccurate plans, calculations and specifications are the most common causes for delays in permit approvals. In general, every application for a permit is required to contain a completed Permit Application form; a completed Construction and Demolition Debris Management/Recycling Plan; complete and accurate plans, specifications and calculations for the proposed project;  and when applicable a completed Deferred Submittal Agreement and Statement of Special Inspections, Tests, and Observations, for more information on complete application requirements see SOG 17-04 Building Permit Complete Submittal Requirements Checklist and Complete Application Matrix.

Are there special building requirements for wildfire protection?

Yes. The City has taken steps to enhance wildfire safety in the built environment that are in accordance with guidance from the State Fire Marshal’s Office. In all areas of the City, roofing materials and systems must provide Class A fire protection as defined in the CA Building Code. 
The City has also defined a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (VHFHSZ) where additional requirements for wildfire resistant construction are in place. In general the VHFHSZ is located on the east and north sides of the City. Construction in the VHFHSZ is required to comply with CA Building Code Chapter 7A, Materials and Construction Methods for Exterior Wildfire Exposure, for more information on wildfire resistant construction requirements see SOG 18-04 Exterior Wildfire Exposure Protection.

Are my plans required to be signed by the person who drew them?

If your plans and other construction documents are prepared by a State registered design professional (architect or engineer) they are required by State and local regulations to bear the designers seal and signature. If the construction documents are prepared by a non-registered building designer Municipal Code Section 15.08.010 requires that the designers name, contact information and signature be provided on the plans. The Building Official has determined that the required designer information and signatures are required to be on the plans at the time they are submitted for review, for more information on designer identification requirements see SOG 17-03 Designer ID Requirements on Submittals.

When am I required to provide fire sprinkler protection in my building?

The Carmel Municipal Code in Section 903.2 requires the installation of fire sprinkler protection in all new buildings and structures constructed, moved into or relocated within the City. The requirement supersedes any square footage limitations specified in the CA Building and Fire Codes. Four exceptions are offered which include:
-Structures not classified as Group R occupancies and not more than 500 square feet in total floor area;
– Detached agricultural buildings located at least one-hundred feet from any other structure or the property line.
– Accessory structures associated with existing non-sprinklered R-3 occupancies (one- or two-family dwellings) and less than 1500 square feet in total area;
– Where an insufficient water supply exists to provide for a fire sprinkler system and where the fire code official permits alternate protection.
Fire sprinklers are required to be installed retroactively in existing buildings whenever  additions, alterations or repairs are made that involve the addition, removal or replacement of fifty (50%) or greater of the linear length of the walls of the existing building (exterior plus interior) within a five-year period, for more information on fire sprinkler requirements see SOG 17-11 Determining Residential Fire Sprinkler Retrofit Requirements.

What happens if I begin construction without first obtaining required permits?

When work commences prior to obtaining required permits the Building Safety Division is authorized to Stop Work on the project until approved permits are obtained, and to levy penalties including double permit fees and an investigation fee as specified in the City’s fee schedule. Upon issuance of a Stop Work Order, the City also issues a Notice of Violation to the property owner and contractor responsible for the illegal work. Where a contractor is involved in such illegal work, the City may notify the California State Licensing Board, which may also levy penalties in accordance with State law, for more information see SOG 17-17 Stop Work Orders.

Besides the survey work required for developing the site plan and as-built survey for a project application what other survey work is required for building construction in Carmel?

The City has enacted height and setback requirements for buildings constructed, remodeled or enlarged within its jurisdiction. All projects which construct or expand a building in close proximity to property lines are required to obtain a surveyor’s certification that the footings and foundation are properly located with respect to property lines prior to approval of the footings by the inspector. In addition all projects involving the construction or modification of roof structures (resulting in elevation of the roof above its original height) are required to obtain a surveyor’s certification that the roof height is in accordance with the approved plans prior to the framing inspection.  Certifications are required to be provided to the building inspector at the time of the indicated inspection, for more information see SOG 17-08 Surveyor Certification of Location and Height.

How much do permits cost?

For information on permit cost and fees, see SOG 18-05 Permit Valuations and Fees. In addition, please see the City’s Finance Department for information on the upcoming fiscal year budget.

Can I add another bathroom?

Water credits in single-family homes are based on the number of existing water fixtures. Homes with only one bathroom can add a second bathroom without the need for a water allocation from the City. Property owners can free up additional water credits by retrofitting old fixtures with high efficiency fixtures or eliminating fixtures altogether. Contact the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District for more information.   

How can I review my property file?

The Department of Community Planning and Building has files on every property located within the City limits.  To view these files come to City Hall preferably with the Assessor’s Parcel # (APN) (which can be found on your property tax documents) or the Block & Lot numbers.  Copies of documents in the file can be made for $.20/page. If you would like copies of plans, permission from the architect/designer and the current owners must be given.  Plans for copying are sent off-site, and you will be contacted directly for pick-up and payment upon completion.

How do I file a complaint?

It’s best to call the Department of Community Planning and Building and discuss the issue with the Code enforcement officer.  Most issues can be handled on the phone. You can also fill out a complaint form at the Department of Community Planning and Building.  Once the complaint form is received it will be routed to the appropriate department for action.