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For The Cities Within San Luis Obispo County

by Paula Frojae, 9/15/22

(All information presented here is subject to change and all costs are estimated.)

     Thank you for choosing our team to service your design and building permit needs.

     The building permit process can be a lengthy and complex ordeal. It's lengthy because everyone is remodeling and building these days, leaving building departments overwhelmed and understaffed for the volume of plans and permits coming their way. It's complex because the process includes a lot of people you may have not met yet, but will be hearing from once the proposal is signed.

     It takes a team to design your plans and documents and then five of your local jurisdiction departments to review them for compliance. My attempt here is to list the people involved in the preparation of your Plans/Documents/Letters/Reports and explain their part in this complex process so you can better prepare for what lies ahead.

     A set of plans looks a lot different than it did in the past, before storm-water mandates and energy codes came into play. Today, a set of residential plans for a remodel which includes an increase or decrease in size (change to the footprint) requires an average of 25 pages to be compliant with local jurisdiction codes and ordinances. The plan set includes an average of: 12-Design pages from the Architect, 2-Energy title 24 pages from an energy consultant, 8-Structural pages with details from a structural engineer and 4-Landscaping or Civil pages for drainage and storm-water from a landscaping or civil engineer.

     The Highlighted steps below are required to complete your plans and documents. You will be receiving quotes from people who perform this work for the Architect . When you receive these quotes they will require an approval of their fees in order for them to start on your drawings and documents.


I hope the following explains who and why these people are needed.

When the footprint (outside square footage of buildings) is altered in any way, it affects the water run-off from the property. This is a big deal with all jurisdictions. It is categorised under Storm-water Management and has a laundry list of requirements, in order to reduce the amount of run-off and run-off pollution, by slowing run-off and allowing it to soak in. When storm-water stays close to where it falls, less soil erosion occurs and fewer pollutants are carried to surface water. Because of Storm-water mandates, a Property Survey will be required to begin the design process. (If no exterior changes are proposed, the drainage requirements are lessened and a property survey may not be needed.)

     A Property Survey is performed in order to locate, describe, monument the physical location markers, and map the boundaries and corners of your parcel of land. As well as noting the existing topography and drainage of the parcel, the location of buildings and other improvements made to the parcel. This includes sheds, retaining walls, drains, utilities etc. This survey will then be used by myself and the people mentioned below, who are involved in creating your drawings. In the long run, this survey saves you money. It will also let you know if you have more room to work with or if your neighbours fences or buildings are on your property. This is not something you want discovered by your building inspector during construction.

Title 24 plans and documents show you have met the energy code requirements by detailing existing and proposed windows, door or other openings, appliances, heating/cooling and all insulation R-Values.

Structural Engineer is required to design the existing and proposed structural components, details and building code requirements, seismic (earthquake), wind, loads, etc.

Civil or Landscape Engineer is required to design all storm-water and drainage control measures during and after construction.

Other Documents/Letters/Reports Required:

*Truss Manufacturer Specifications and Calculations are Required if Trusses are being installed.

*Soils Engineer Report is Required if 500 square feet of soil is being disturbed.

*Letter from Soils Engineer stating soils report is compliant with the Structural Engineering and Building plans proposed. Required if 500 square feet of soil is being disturbed.

*Will Serve Sewer Letter (SLO County)

*Will Serve Water Letter (SLO County)


Possible Reports/Studies Required:

*Archaeological Study if in or near a coastal zone (in certain jurisdictions)

*Coastal Review if in or near a coastal zone (in certain jurisdictions)

Forms to Expect from Paula: To be signed where noted and returned as a PDF or mailed.

*Building permit application

*Storm-water management and or waiver form

*Recyclable-waste disposal form

*Authorised Agent form, so we can be your representative to your jurisdiction.

*Owner/builder form (if no contractor is involved)

*In Cambria: A water fixture form is required to be submitted to the town of Cambria for review.

*In Cambria: A fire review application is submitted to the Cambria Fire department for their review.

Papers or copies Paula may need:

*Proof of title if you have not owned the property for five years.

*Copy of driver's license to prove signature on authorised agent form.

When the building permit application, plans, documents, reports and letters are submitted to your local jurisdiction, there are a number of departments who will be reviewing them.

Please see below for that list:

Planning reviews the outside appearances of the proposed work for conformity to the neighbourhood including side, rear and front yard setbacks, all structures and fence heights, decking and fence styles.


Building reviews life safety, structure and inclusion of all residential building code requirements including size of rooms, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, interior and exterior framing materials, all setbacks, utility line locations, fire life safety, Cal-Green, energy compliance and much more.


Fire reviews fire life safety compliance including emergency exits through windows in the bedrooms, smoke and carbon detector use and locations. Location and clearances of all structures, etc. AND, if 50% of your existing structure is being affected by remodelling or an addition, they will require fire sprinklers to be installed. This will then require a fire sprinkler constructor to add fire sprinklers onto my drawings, and a fire sprinkler application and fire sprinkler plans will need to be submitted by your fire sprinkler contractor, to your jurisdiction.


Public Works reviews existing and proposed storm-water management measures, drainage, retaining walls, encroachments and any work taking place in the street including sewer utility tie-ins during construction. Proper placement of straw waddles and street drainage filters installed during construction.


Utilities reviews all existing and proposed utility locations to ensure no buildings are being constructed over existing or proposed utility lines including gas, sewer, water, electrical underground/overhead, etc. They also check to see if any proposed work requires an encroachment permit.

Note: All utility tie-ins performed in the street require an encroachment permit)


Water Fixture Review: (applicable only in certain towns or cities like Cambria)

Review plumbing fixture count, both existing and proposed water lines and water using appliances. This includes existing and proposed lavs (bathroom sink), toilets, laundry sinks, kitchen sinks, bar sinks, tub/shower, shower stalls, spas, washing machines, water heaters, water softeners, recirculating hot water pumps, etc.

      When Paula submits the building permit application, plans, documents, letters, forms and reports to your local jurisdiction, a plan review fee will be assessed. Paula will forward that information on to you to pay to your jurisdiction. It can be paid online, by phone, or mail in a check. Every jurisdiction is different. If your jurisdiction does not accept over the phone or online payment you may have to give Paula a blank check made out to your local jurisdiction for her to fill out when she submits. If that is the case, Paula will email you a photograph of the filled-out check and the receipt upon returning to the office.

     The plan review process begins after the payment is received by your jurisdiction. Our team does their very best to meet all the requirements of your local jurisdiction and comply with the currently adopted building codes, however jurisdictions are always increasing what they want us to include in our plans, to relieve them of any and all liability.

Also every 3 years, building codes are updated. Currently, we are in the 2019 building code. We are coming into a new 2022 building code update. Any plans and applications submitted next year in 2023 will need to be compliant with the new 2022 Adopted Building Codes.

     The adoption of New 2022 codes entails a whole new set of building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, energy, fire, cal-green codes your jurisdiction will be implementing. That being said, you can count on one round of comments coming back from your jurisdiction with a list of items which need to be added to the plan set and documents. The Process (which is the time time between receiving the comments back from your jurisdiction and re-submitting all the items requested) to get these comments corrected and responded to with letters, reports and plan changes completed by our team of designers and returned back into your jurisdiction, takes longer than any of us thinks it will. So please continue to practice patience with this complex Process. Once again we are counting on many people to get their part completed as soon as possible (while taking care of their other customers). Please keep in mind, the more accurate and complete we are with the second submission the better our chances of receiving our permit.

     During this Comment/Correction Process, there may be some more forms to sign and payments to make to different departments in your jurisdiction. There could be a new engineer needed, if we have not met and satisfied the jurisdiction with our first team of engineering reports and drawings. (This is very rare if we start with a property survey and submit a complete storm-water management plan)

I hope the below will better prepare you for this phase of the Process, which may require further forms needing signatures and payments.

Other Possible Fees:

*Public Works Drainage Review: $207 assessed by the County of SLO on some projects at final review time.

*School fee: assessed and calculated on some projects at final review time.

*Water fixture review fees are assessed in the town of Cambria, at the time of permit submission a fixture count of the existing and proposed fixtures are given to Cambria Community Services for review. We will pay that review fee, because it is done online now and then bill you for it afterwards.

*Fire Review is a separate fee in Cambria . A review fee will be assessed when Paula submits the plans and fire application to the Cambria fire department. We can pay that fee and bill you for it afterwards.

*Video of your existing sewer line is required in some jurisdictions when adding a guest suite, bathroom, laundry room, kitchen or ADU (accessory dwelling unit) if the ADU is tie-ing into the existing line. Hence, adding water down your existing sewer line to the street. A plumber will need to be hired by you or your contractor to perform this procedure/video of your existing sewer line. The video is then submitted to your jurisdiction's public works department for review. This is how your jurisdiction assures the existing sewer line is in good enough condition to handle the new increased volume of water.

*Encroachment permit will be required if any utility work is tied into the street. This is discovered during the Public Works review.

     Once your jurisdiction is satisfied the plan package meets all of the adopted ordinances and codes, they will let us know by sending us an email for the Building Permit Final Fees. We will forward this information on to you, for you to pay. I may also be sending you an invoice for any outstanding payments I have not yet received. Once you pay the fees, let us know and we will pick up and deliver the permit, plans and documents to you.

We will be sending you progress emails continually throughout the above process, unless you let us know you choose not to receive them.

Below is an example of costs/fees for a 1700 to 2000 square foot remodel with demo-rebuild in the garage, in the town of Cambria.

County Admin fees                   +/-$500.00


County application fee           +/-$1,394.00           Plan Review


CCSD application fee             +/-$1,520.00            Cambria Fire Department Review


Architect sheets                    +/-$12,000.00            And Title 24 sheets and docs


Land Survey                             +/-$2,480.00             Survey + Topographical 


Structural Engineering           +/-$2,700.00            Sheets for plan set

Soils reporting                           +/-$2,000.00            Documents

Civil/Landscape prep            +/-$2,000.00             Plan Sheets

Final Building Permit                      varies

                                                   +/-$24,594.00             Sub-Total, minus final permit fees

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