Basic Permit Due Diligence 101

Let’s just take a moment and face the unfortunate truth – as City budgets have plummeted, full-time City staff has been cut, and un-replaced. Despite this drop in City staff, developments have increased – and so have the need for building permits. The US Census bureau recently reported that permits for February 2015 is 3.0 percent (±1.7%) above the revised January rate of 1,060,000 building permits issued and is 7.7 percent (±2.0%) above the February 2014 estimate of 1,014,000 building permits issued.

This is definitely a common scenario in the Permitting World. Before picking up the phone and calling City Hall asking what permit you may need – save yourself and City officials some time, and conduct (even a little) online due diligence.  Google is a powerful search tool that can sometimes help guide you through even the most convoluted City websites.

If you are unfamiliar with the process and aren’t sure where to start, here are three key items that you need on-hand to help ensure that you get the proper information.

  1. Location. Know the address AND assessor’s parcel number for your project site. Its important to know both because sometimes the address may apply to multiple tenants or businesses. Once you know the location, double check what jurisdiction it may be in – sometimes an address that states a City name may actually be located within the County’s jurisdiction. Once you know the jurisdiction, confirm what the Zoning may be – based on a site’s Zoning, what you may propose may not even be permitted by right.

Google search tip: Search for an interactive map to help confirm the jurisdiction – ie. “Riverside County Interactive Map”.

  1. Detailed, yet short and concise scope of work. First, know what is existing – was this former tenant space? Is it a vacant property? Secondly, what are you doing? Are you converting an empty tenant space into a restaurant? If this is a vacant lot, is there grading and paving involved? Based on the magnitude of the work that needs to be done, you may need more – or hopefully less permits than you think.

Google search tip: Search for permits directly relative to work that will be conducted, such as “City of Riverside Grading Permit”, “City of Riverside Sign Permit”, “City of Riverside Tenant Improvement Permit”.

  1. Square footage of work and valuation. Most major City fees are based on either the square footage of work that will be conducted, or the valuation of the overall

Google search tip: When you do not have a valuation ready or are unsure of the exact square footage, try searching for a Fee Schedule to help you estimate how much each permit may cost when it becomes available.

Once you’ve found what you can online, ALWAYS contact the City and confirm. They will definitely appreciate the time you took to find out the answers yourself. When in doubt – contact the professionals at Permit Place ( to help guide you and take away your permitting worries!

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