Building Requirements

Community Development Agency

General Information

Permits Required

Unless specifically addressed under the 'Work Exempt From a Permit' section, no building or structure shall be erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished unless a separate permit for each building or structure has first been obtained.

General Information Resources


Work Exempt From a Permit

Exemptions from permit requirements do not grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of any laws or ordinances of the County of Marin. Please contact Planning, Environmental Health Services and Land Development Divisions prior to commencing any building permit exempt work.

A Building Permit shall not be required for the following (CBC Appendix Chapter 1, Section 105.2):

  1. The following types of structures may be exempt from a building permit if they are located in compliance with zoning regulations established in MCC, Title 22. Please contact the Marin County Planning Division at 499-6 269 for specific requirements for your property.
    1. One-story detached accessory buildings used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar non-habitable uses, provided the total gross area does not exceed 120 square feet. MCC 19.04.060
    2. In rural areas on parcels of 1 acre or more, accessory structures used for tool sheds, workshops and horse stalls not exceeding 300 square feet each and fences over 6 feet in height may have permits waived if exempt from zoning regulations. MCC 19.04.060
  2. Fences not over 6 feet high.
  3. Oil derricks.
  4. Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II or IIIA 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. 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.
  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 24 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. (This does not include shade structure type carports.)
  11. Swings and other playground equipment accessory to detached one- and two-family dwellings. (Greater than 15 feet in height will be subject to a Planning Division permit.)
  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. Nonfixed and movable fixtures, cases, racks, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches in height.

Separate plumbing, electrical and mechanical permit s will be required for related work in conjunction with the above exempted items.

State and County Codes and Ordinances

State Codes

The County of Marin, by Ordinance No. 3658 has adopted the following codes (more information on these codes may be found on the Building Code page of Law.Resource.Org):

County Codes

County Ordinances


Submittal Requirements


Please complete the applicant portion of the Building Permit Application. All information shall be legible and complete.

Number of Sets of Plans

Each Building Permit Application shall be accompanied by four complete sets of documents. The documents shall include the site plan, working drawings, specifications, engineering calculations, energy calculations, diagrams, soil investigation reports, fire sprinkler plans and calculations, special inspection and structural observation programs and other related data. An additional (3rd) set of the plans will be required for the assessor prior to permit issuance.

Submittal Checklist

The Building Permit Submittal Checklist contains the minimum information needed for a complete submittal. Submittals will not be accepted if applicable information is missing. The owner or designer must use the checklist to confirm a complete application prior to arriving at the Building & Safety counter to apply for a building permit.

Fire District Approval

Check with your local fire district for any requirements that they may have concerning local fire ordinances. The following is a partial list of fire districts in the county. All phone numbers are within the (415) area code.

City Phone City Phone
Bolinas 868-1566 Novato 878-2690
Inverness 699-7151 Ross Valley 258-4686
Kentfield 453-7464 San Rafael 385-3308
Larkspur 927-5110 Sleepy Hollow 454-2923
Marin County 473-6566 Southern Marin 388-8182
Marinwood 479-0122 Stinson Beach 868-0622
Mill Valley 389-4130 Tamalpais 380-1100
Muir Beach 380-9627 Tiburon 435-7200

Permit Fees

Fees for obtaining building permits are collected in two stages:

  1. Application fees are collected at the time of submittal. Application fees include Building & Safety Division Plan Check fees and Planning Review fees of Building Permits. When work is started prior to issuance of a Building Permit an investigation fee shall be collected at the time of submittal which is equal to the Building Permit fee.

  3. Issuance fees include Building, Electrical, Mechanical, and Plumbing Permit fees, and a State Fee. Other fees may include a Planning Division Surcharge on new structures, Site and Encroachment Permit fees by the Department of Public Works, and EHS review fee of Building Permits. School District fees are collected by the local school district prior to issuance of a permit. Most school districts require Building & Safety staff to complete a form verifying square footage prior to paying your school fee to the school district.

Permit Processing Procedure

  1. Building Permit Application Form – Part A is completed and submitted online at with credit card payment.
  2. Plan drawing files are uploaded into our ProjectDox online plan review/approval platform when the applicant is invited to do so via email.
  3. Uploaded plan files are concurrently reviewed/approved within ProjectDox by Planning, Building & Safety, Fire, Land Development and Environmental Health, as applicable.
  4. Building Permit Applications and plan files requiring a separate Design Review approval, or other entitlement, from Planning are rerouted into a separate sequential Planning review/approval process until Design Review approval has been secured and the project is returned to the concurrent review/approval process and building permit issuance. Please consult the Planning Division prior to submitting plans, or for information regarding Planning and Zoning.
  5. After permitting requirements from each agency have been satisfied through ProjectDox, and the building permit is ready to be issued, the applicant will be directed to complete the Request for Permit Issuance Form – Part B at, identifying the individual in whose name the building permit will be issued, and for payment of all remaining permit fees.
  6. As the building permit is issued the permit holder will be invited into ProjectDox to download and print the County stamped plans. The paper building permit and jobsite inspection card will arrive within days via mail.

Who May Receive a Building Permit?

In California building permits may only be issued to 1) Properly licensed California contractors; or 2) Property owners acting as an owner-builder.

  1. California licensed contractors must provide proof of license classification and expiration, as well as a valid Certificate of Workers Compensation Insurance.
  2. Property owners acting as an owner-builder must provide a signed Owner-Builder Declaration Form.

Prior to Issuance

Several requirements must be met prior to issuance of a Building Permit (some or all may apply to your project):

  1. Signed Business & Profession Code statement and verification of type and expiration date of contractors’ license.
  2. Workers Compensation Declaration signed (and verification of a valid Certificate of Workers Compensation).
  3. Owner-Builder Declaration signed and verification/listing of contractors to be working on the project.
  4. Certificate of Compliance with school developer fees (CAC Section 53080).
  5. Letter from local water district regarding availability of water service.
  6. Letter from local sanitary district regarding availability of sewer service.
  7. Release of all “holds on issuance.”

Application & Permit Expiration Information

Expiration of Application

The building permit application expires one (1) year after the date of the Planning Division approval of the building permit. Building permits must be issued prior to the one-year expiration. It is the applicant’s responsibility to respond to plan review requests by the County in a timely manner and to obtain the permit prior to expiration. The County does not have the resources to notify applicants of pending expiration of their application. In order to renew action on an expired application the applicant shall resubmit plans and pay new processing fees.

Expiration of Permit

Every permit issued by the building official under the provisions of the technical codes shall expire by limitation and become null and void if the building or work authorized by such permit is not commenced and inspected within one year from the date of such permit. All permits shall expire by limitation and become null and void if the building or work authorized by such permit is not completed and final inspection approved within two years from the date of such permit.