San Francisco Building Permit Process

Many of our clients have had questions about the process from the initial design meeting to obtaining permits. How does Studio J Architecture start from talking about your dream home to finding the right builder? How does Studio J Architecture work and what is our process?

Remembering all projects are different and each site has its own challenges we have written a simplified step by step process that outlines the process from design to permit. Also, it is important to note that all counties have a slightly different process. This blog is based on the processes of the San Francisco Building Department. Some projects may require variances, neighborhood notification, tree permits, civil engineering, surveys, environmental reports….. The list of “may” require is daunting. This is why you hire an experience architect like Jay at Studio J Architecture to help prevent unnecessary delays and expenses and efficiently overcome the obstacles in your way.

Step 1: Initial Meeting

The first step of the design process is listening. We believe that designing your project should be a creative and rewarding collaboration from start to finish.

Once you contact Studio J Architecture we will set up a complimentary appointment to meet with you at your property. We walk your property with you, asking questions about your intentions, timeline, design ideas and budget. Once we have an understanding of your project we will send you a proposal outlining, in detail, our design phases and estimated cost.

Step 2: Schematic Design & Feasibility Study

Our crew will come to your property and we will take dimensions of any existing structures and gather important information about your lot. We will create an existing drawing of your property & site and conduct research with the building department if needed. We will start designing based on your requirements and we will present you with a few different options based on your budget as well as a rough estimate of construction cost.

Step 3: Design Development

After our meeting we will work the design based on your feedback. Design edits might take a few rounds based on your comments or if you decide to make changes during the design process. Once complete, and you are in love with our design, we will review all drawings with you and present you with a set of plans that are ready to be submitted for your planning permit or to present to your builders for an estimate.

Step 4: Planning Permit Submittal (if required)

If building permits are required, we will submit your plans to the Planning Department for planning approval. Most counties require both planning and building approval for your building permit. The Planning Department will tell you what you can build and the Building Department will tell you how it can be built. We will keep you updated throughout the process and respond to comments or questions from the planning department if needed.

Step 5: Building Permit Submittal (if required)

Once we receive Planning approval we will order drawings and calculations from the structural engineer and a Title 24 energy report if needed. Some projects, such as minor renovations, do not require structural engineering. Once we receive structural drawings Studio J Architecture will review and help value engineer the project to reduce your construction cost while preserving your design. Now its time to submit for your building permit and show your structural plans to your contractor for a bid.

Step 6: Choosing your contractor and builder

Studio J Architecture is here for you every step of the way. We help clients review bids and meet contractors at the site to review the project if needed. The more information we can give the builders and the more questions we can answer the more precise bid you should receive. We also work with your builder during the process to answer questions and make edits if needed to solve problems due to unknown site conditions or reduce your cost of construction. From design to done Studio J Architecture will guide you through.

Step 7: Permit Approved

Congratulations! Your permit has been approved and you are ready to begin building.

Now, time to plan your housewarming party to show off your new home.