SuccessMatte…, Home Buyer in Sacramento, CA

Do we need a city permit to extend our living room 8 ft into our front yard ? the house is in San Jose, CA

Asked by SuccessMatters, Sacramento, CA Wed Sep 4, 2013

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi Success:

Take if from someone who has "done battle" with the City of San Jose in the absolutely, positively need a permit to do almost anything in your home. Examples of changes that would require permits are:

1. Any major work visible from the exterior of the property
2. Changes the liveable square footage in your home (for example, adding more space to the inside or converting a garage)
3. Involves plumbing, electrical or heating systems in your home
4. Involves replacing any exterior "covering" to your home (stucco, roof, windows)
5. Changes the "footprint" of the home
6. Adding an "out building" or permanent storage shed that is electrified or can be used as living spaces

Of all the cities in the Santa Clara County, architects, structural engineers and building conformance engineers will tell you that San Jose is the most vigilant in "red tagging" changes, and the most difficult in getting repairs and proposals approved. The planners within the city are very particular about the manner in which the changes are presented, completed, and inspected. So before you attempt to even put forth a permit application with the City, work with a contractor or architect with a proven "track record" of working successfully with the City of San Jose. They will know not only WHO to talk to and WHO to give the request to, but will also know exactly HOW to present your application in a manner that will most likely get approval from the City's planning department.

Most importantly, do not disregard the importance of a permit, because the City's inspectors have "zero" tolerance for changes made without approval. In fact, I know of one homeowner who purchased a lovely home in San Jose only to find out 30 days after her close of escrow that 1/2 of the property consisted of an unpermitted extension and she was given the order to tear it all down and restore the home to 1/2 of its present size. By the way, she did NOT win her case with the City, and did have to tear out the extension.

So get a great contractor first (one who has worked with the City and knows people within the Planning Department with which to work) and then submit your plans for an extension. Do NOT try to add the extension without the permit--you will rue the day you did.

Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 4, 2013
YES, city will re-tag your property for failing to get proper permits.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 4, 2013
In most places you will need a permit and I am sure you do in San Jose
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 4, 2013
Hi SuccessMatters,

Well, if "Success Matters" the bottom line is get the permit(s)!

Planning, Building & Code Enforcement

2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 4, 2013

J.R. Thrasher
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 5, 2013
Great answers, but allow me to be a bit more assertive: Doing almost any remodeling without a permit is going to lead to headaches and/or full blown nightmares should you ever decide to refinance or sell the property.

If permits are not pulled, at the very least a lender will require inspections and verification that the work was done to code and in a "workmanship" (professional) manner. At the worse case, if you have violated or exceeded San Jose building codes, the City can require you to remove the addition and return the home to original condition.

Not getting a permit is NEVER a good idea.

All my best,

NMLS #279125
WJ Bradley

"We Listen. We Care. We Deliver."
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 5, 2013
Deborah, thanks for explaining that it is always better to have a permit if you are planning to remodel your home. I didn't realize that, without the proper paperwork, the city can require you to return your home to its original condition. It seems like it is important to make sure you hire a professional contractor who can acquire all of the necessary permits, to make sure the job is done safely, correctly, and according to your city's guidelines.
Flag Tue Apr 19, 2016
Yes, you will need a permit. Also make sure to get all the necessary city inspection including the final. It will add the square footage to the county records and will be counted in future appraisals.
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 4, 2013
Yes. You already have some great answers. Also you might want to update your homeowner insurance to reflect the addition.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 4, 2013
Yes. Also, when the time comes to resale your property a buyer is going to want to see a permit. If there is no permit a lender may refuse to loan on it. If you don't have a permit and you suffer a loss to fire, or other, it's possible your home owners insurance will not cover it. And as others have noted, the city can red-tag it and require you to remove it.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 4, 2013
Yes. You will need a permit. Any time you add on, or remodel, you need a permit.
It is always in the best interests of the homeowner, the city wants to make sure you do the job correctly. As a benefit to you, when you go to re-sell the house, you will have all the paper work and provide it to the new owner that everything is "up to 2013 building codes" .

If you need any help with the design process, the permitting process, or the construction of your new addition, please feel free to contact me.

Raymond Sinsley
Timber Creek Construction
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 4, 2013
The City requires a permit for most work done on a house and the work you describe will need one. You can call the planning department or check the City of San Jose's web cite to get more information. For your information all lenders now require that any additions or modifications that require a permit must have one on file and signed off by the city or they will not lend on that property. It is very important to follow the City of San Jose's rules and I would strongly recommend you do so.


Jim Guido,

Realty World/Blue Property Group
Cell: 408-472-2074
DRE# 00700635
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 4, 2013
You should always get a permit if you add square footage. Otherwise, size of your home will be inconsistent with county record, city might also give you a fine if they find out the work is done without permits. In addition, you will run into more issues when you try sell the house. If the extension is less than 500 sqft, you might be able to get the permit from city of San Jose less than one day. I hope this helps.
Karen Xu, Intero Los Gatos.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 4, 2013
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