Work Exempt from Permit


All construction activity, from initial site grading to interior improvements, alterations and most repairs requires a building permit unless the work is specifically exempted by the California Building Code appendix Chapter 1 and Title 8 Chapter 2 of the San Juan Capistrano Municipal Code.

NOTE:  Although some work is exempt from a building permit, it may be subject to other county regulations and additional permits or review may be required. Before a building or structure is erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished, it is important to contact the appropriate staff in Development Services to determine if any other permit or technical review is required.

Although a building permit is not required, the exempt construction/work must be code compliant and must conform to building code standards and Zoning standards. Failure to comply with code requirements may constitute a violation.

Work Exempt from Permit

The following is a list of building, electrical, gas, mechanical, and plumbing work that may be performed without a building permit. If your project does not appear on this list of exempt work, you should assume that a building permit is required.

 1.   One-story detached accessory buildings used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses and structures such as portable shade cloth structures, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet. Such structures must comply with the setback and height requirements of the City Zoning Ordinance and the Fire Code.

    2.   Wood, vinyl, wrought iron, or similar fences not over 7 feet high measured from the bottom of the footing. Masonry or concrete fences not over 36 inches in height measured from the top of footing to top of wall.

    3.   Oil derricks.

    4.   Retaining walls that are not over 48 inches in height measured from the bottom of footing to the top of wall unless supporting a building or slope surcharge, located at the top of a slope or impounding Class I, II or II-A liquids.

    5.   Water tanks supported directly on grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2:1.

    6.   Decks, platforms or similar structures, walkways, sidewalks and driveways not more than 30 inches above adjacent grade, and not over any basement or story below and are not part of an accessible route.

    7.   Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work unless that work also involves structural or non-structural wall, floor or ceiling modifications or electrical, mechanical or plumbing relocation, addition or modifications.

    8.   Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.

    9.   Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R-3 occupancy that are less than 18 inches deep, do not exceed 5,000 gallons and are installed entirely above ground.

    10. Shade cloth structures constructed for nursery or agricultural purposes, not including service systems.

    11. Swings and other playground equipment accessory to detached one- and two-family dwellings.

    12. Window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches from the exterior wall and do not require additional support of Group R-3 and U occupancies.

    13. Non-fixed and movable fixtures, cases, racks, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches in height.

    14. Radio and television antennas and flagpoles not over twelve (12) feet in height measured from grade.

    15. Non-illuminated wall mounted signs, provided they are less than 7 feet above the adjacent grade or walking surface (as measured from the lowest part of the sign) are no more than 32 square feet in viewable area and are no more than 75 lbs. in weight.

Unless otherwise exempted, separate plumbing, electrical and mechanical permits will be required for the above-exempted items.