Pinole's Building Permits

Building Permits

General Building Permitting Information
What is a Building Permit?
A building permit gives you legal permission to start construction of a building project in accordance with approved drawings and specifications. 
Why are Building Permits Important?
Your home or business is an investment.If your construction project does not comply with the codes adopted by the State of California and the City of Pinole, the value of your investment could be reduced. Property insurers may not cover work done without permits and inspections. Lenders require proof a building permit has been secured and work done without permits typically requires retroactive inspection and documentation, which costs time and money. If you decide to sell a home or building that has had modifications without a permit, you may be required to tear down the addition, leave it unoccupied, or make costly repairs. A property owner who can show that code requirements were strictly and consistently met––as demonstrated by a code official’s carefully maintained records––has a strong ally if something happens to trigger a potentially destructive lawsuit. Your permit also allows the code official to protect the public by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction and ensuring public health, safety, and welfare. By following code guidelines, the completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, your friends, or future owners. 
What Work Requires a Permit?

Building permits are typically required for all structural, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work whether inside or outside of the building. Permits are usually required for new buildings, additions (bedrooms, bathrooms, family rooms, etc.), residential work (decks, garages, fences, fireplaces, pools, water heaters, etc.), renovations (garage conversions, basement furnishings, kitchen expansions, reroofing, etc.), electrical systems, plumbing systems, HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) systems. Although a contractor will often secure the necessary permits, the responsibility for obtaining building, mechanical, electrical or plumbing permits lies with the property owner. Before beginning ANY construction or remodeling project, be sure to contact the Building Division. A staff member can verify what permits are needed, the cost and the proper procedure. 

The following is a partial list of common residential and commercial projects that require Building Permits: 

  • Installation of free-standing fireplaces (wood burning not allowed) 
  • Fireplace inserts 
  • Replacement of hot water heater, furnace or air conditioner 
  • Water softeners 
  • New sewer, water or gas line 
  • New or replacement of retaining walls 
  • Room additions 
  • Window and/or door installation or replacement 
  • Fire and/or water damage repair 
  • Electric service upgrade, electric service panel relocation, and new wiring or electric outlets 
  • Installation of heat pumps or solar panels 
  • Reconstruction or modification of a dwelling 
  • New siding or new roof 
  • Termite repair work 
  • Pools, spas and hot tubs 
  • Patio covers, decks over 30 inches high OR over 120 square feet OR attached to the house, and gazebos 
  • Permanent affixed or freestanding signs 


  • Accessibility upgrades 
  • Change in use 
  • Replacement of hot water heater, furnace or air conditioner 
  • New or replacement electrical panel 
  • New siding or roof 
  • Window replacement 
  • Swimming pool 
  • Tenant Improvements 
  • Solar Panels
  • Window and/or door installation or replacement
  • New or replacement of retaining walls 
What Work is Exempted from a Permit?

Pursuant to the 2019 California Building Code, Section 105.2, the following work is exempted from a Building Permit. It is always a good idea to either call or email the Division if you have any questions about an upcoming project, and to verify permitting requirements: 

  • Cosmetic work, such as installing carpet, painting, wallpapering. 
  • Minor improvements, such as replacing a garbage disposal or dishwasher. 
  • One story detached accessory buildings used as tool and/or storage sheds or playhouses and under 120 Sq. ft. of projected roof area and do not have electrical or plumbing.  Note:  if structure exceeds 8 feet in height a permit is required. 
  • Fences not over seven (7) feet in height (typically, fences shorter than seven (7) feet do not require building permits; however, because all fences must comply with the placement, height, and appearance requirements of the Pinole Municipal Code Chapter 17.42, applicants should contact a planner ([email protected]s) prior to doing any construction of a fence.
  • Retaining walls under four (4) feet in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall and not supporting a surcharge.  Surcharge is a vertical load imposed on the retained soil that may impose a lateral force in addition to the lateral earth pressure of the retained soil.  Examples include sloped soil, vehicle loads supported by retained soil and fences installed on top of retaining walls.
  • Swimming pools less than 5,000 gallons set above the adjacent grade. 
  • Detached platforms, walks and decks without a cover, under 30 inches high and under 120 sq. ft. 
  • Removable window awnings projecting not more than 54 inches. 
Why Should You Get a Permit?
There are many reasons to secure a Building Permit prior to conducting work that requires a permit.

See the section above Why are Building Permits Important for more information on the benefits of going through the building permit process. Another (costly) reason to secure a permit is financial. Retroactive, or after the fact, Building Permits will be assessed a penalty equal to the original permit fee, and work without a permit will be subject to code enforcement citations. 

Additional Building Permitting Requirements

Review by Outside Agencies

West Contra Costa Unified School District: New commercial, new single or multi family dwellings or room additions over five hundred square feet (500) must submit one set of drawings to West Contra Costa Unified School District for payment of school fees.  A letter from the West Contra Costa Unified School District showing that school fees have been paid must be submitted before a building permit can be issued. Click here to visit the WCCUSD Planning and Construction site.

West County Wastewater District: New commercial, new single or multi family dwellings served by the West County Wastewater District (WCWD), must submit plans to WCWD for review and permit to connect to WCWD sewer facilities.  A permit is also required from the Pinole Public Works Department for cutting the street to access the WCWD sewer.  Click here to determine if the property is in the WCWD service area. 

Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ConFire):
The City of Pinole coordinates concurrent plan review with ConFire for some permit types as described below. In all cases, ConFire plan review and permit fees are collected directly by ConFire and not the City of Pinole.

1. Life/Safety Plan Review of new buildings, tenant improvements, remodels and additions, PV and BESS systems:

This will be a concurrent, coordinated review. The City of Pinole will route your plans and application to ConFire and all other reviewing agencies after you submit your application to the City. To pay for ConFire plan review:

  •  Calculate fees due using ConFire's  Commercial or Residential Engineering Fees Schedule. To confirm fees you can email [email protected].
  •  To submit fees you may use their portal, mail in payment via check or credit card authorization form or come in person Monday – Friday from 8am-5pm (Contra Costa County Fire Protection District 4005 Port Chicago Hwy, Suite 250 Concord, CA 94520).
  •  For a credit card authorization form, or any other questions, call ConFire at 925-941-3300 and talk to the operator. You can also email [email protected].

2. Standalone Permit/Plan Review for fire sprinklers, fire hydrants, alarm systems and deferred submittals
To initiate the permitting process you must submit an application and all required fees directly to ConFire. You can submit and make payment online, via mail or in person, as described below:

    1. First determine and complete the applicable forms required
    2. Next, calculate fees due using their Commercial or Residential Engineering Fees Schedule. To confirm fees you can email [email protected].
    3. To submit application and fees you may use their portal, mail in application and payment via check or credit card authorization form or come in person Monday – Friday from 8am-5pm (Contra Costa County Fire Protection District 4005 Port Chicago Hwy, Suite 250 Concord, CA 94520).
    4. For a credit card authorization form, or any other questions, call ConFire at 925-941-3300 and talk to the operator. You can also email [email protected].

Resale Requirements
If you plan to sell or remodel your home, you may be affected by recent real estate law changes, which require a disclosure statement for property remodeling and additions where permits have not been obtained.  Additionally, homes being sold must comply with the City of Pinole Sewer Lateral Ordinance and obtain a video inspection of the sewer lateral which is then submitted to the Public Works Department for review. 

The Building Division currently does not provide inspections of houses being placed on the resale market. If permits were not secured for remodeling or additions, it can be a very costly and inconvenient process for the property owner.  Permit history for properties can be obtained by making a public records request through the City Clerk's Office
Other Permitting Requirements to Be Aware of
City of Pinole Planning

City of Pinole Planning 

Application Types that Require Planning Entitlement Prior to Submitting for a Building Permit:

  • Administrative Design Review
  • Comprehensive Design Review
  • Use Permits
  • Variances
  • Subdivisions

Application Types that Allow for Concurrent Planning Entitlement with Building Permit Application 

  • Sign Permit

Note: Please be aware that concurrent submittal is at the applicant's own risk. Any changes required in the Planning application may require corresponding changes in the Building application, which may result in additional review cycles for the Building Permit application.

City of Pinole Business License

City of Pinole Business License

All persons conducting a business in Pinole are required to have a City of Pinole business license. 

City of Pinole Finance Department
2131 Pear Street
Pinole, CA 94564
(510) 724-9008
[email protected]

Alcoholic Beverage License

Alcoholic Beverage License

If you want to sell alcoholic beverages from your business, you must obtain an Alcoholic Beverage License. The type of license needed will depend if you sell for on site or off site consumption/use. 

State of California, Department of Alcohol Beverage Control 
Local Office: 7677 Oakport Street #1020, Oakland, CA 94621, (510) 639-0628 

Contractor's State License Board

Contractors State License Board

The Contractors State License Board(CSLB) protects California consumers by licensing and regulating the state's construction industry.

Contractor's State License Board
1515 Clay Street, Suite 1105 (Oakland)
(510) 622-2744
(800) 321-2752 

Fictitious Business Name Statement

County Clerks Office
If you will conduct business under a name other than your legal name, you will need to file a Fictitious Business Name Statement with the
County Clerks Office.

County Clerks Office
555 Escobar Street 
P.O. Box 350 
(925) 335-7900

Fire Inspections

Contra Costa Fire Protection District’s Fire Prevention Bureau provides comprehensive inspections to ensure properties are properly constructed in accordance with local and state codes.

Health Permit

Health Permit

A health permit is required for businesses that dispense food to the public. A permit is needed before opening or issuance of a business license. 

County Health Department 
2120 Diamond Blvd, Suite 200, Concord, CA 94520 
(925) 646-5225 

Sales & Use/Seller's Permit

California Board of Equalization
If you sell tangible property in California, you must apply for a Seller's Permit. 

Board of Equalization 
2101 Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612 
(800) 400-7115 or (510) 622-4100 
Fax: (510) 622-4175