Do I Need a Building Permit?

What is a Building Permit? 

A building permit is an official document issued by the Building Division after an owner or owner’s representative submits and receives approval of a building permit application. The Building Division conducts a plan check for each building permit to ensure compliance with the minimum standards as set forth in the California Codes and the City of Benicia Ordinances. These minimum standards are provided to safeguard life, health, property, and public welfare. They regulate the design, construction, quality of materials, use and occupancy, location and maintenance of all buildings and structures within the City of Benicia. 


When Permits are Required (Residential) 

In California, the construction of new buildings and building additions, as well as most home remodeling work requires a permit. The California building code states that: 

“Any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by this code, or to cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit.” 


This means that you will need a permit for most work that modifies your home, including: 

  • Building or changing detached structures, such as garages, sheds, and ADUs 

  • Replacement or alteration of doors, windows, and skylights  

  • Making electricalmechanical, or plumbing changes including replacing or installing a new water heater or mechanical (heating & cooling systems), to name a few. 

  • Re-roofs 

  • Installing or updating solar systems 

  • Patio covers, decks, tents, carports, and gazebos attached to the building or over 120 square feet 

  • Remodels, whether structural or non-structural, typically require a permit 

  • All new construction 

  • Demolitions 

  • Fireplace and wood stove inserts and free standing fireplaces 

  • Permanent pools, spas, and hot tubs 

  • Replacing siding (over 5x5 feet) 

To see a full list, click here.


When Permits are Not Required (Residential) 

A permit usually is not required to make cosmetic and finishing work, such as: 

  • Painting and wallpapering 
  • Installing flooring 
  • Installing countertops and cabinets 
  • Installing trim (baseboards, crown molding) and paneling 
  • Minor electrical repairs 
  • Minor plumbing repairs 
  • Minor home repairs such as replacing a faucet, dishwasher or garbage disposal 
  • Prefabricated pools under 24” in depth. 

Even though the above items do not require building permits, there may be other requirements that must be adhered to as set forth in the Benicia Municipal Code. 

To see a full list, click here. 


When Permits Might be Required 
  • Adding a deck 

  • Installing a fence (check with the Building and Planning Divisions) 

  • Making landscaping improvements (including retaining walls) 


This summary covers some of the more common requirements and the submittal regulations when a building permit is needed. Permits may be required for items not listed, depending on site or project specific conditions. If you have questions about whether your project needs a permit, or if wish to confirm that your project qualifies for an exemption, please contact the Building Division at 707-746-4230. 

Special note: A building Permit and Planning Division review is required for any exterior changes if the building is a multifamily or commercial structure, a designated Historic Resource, or is located in the in the Arsenal or in Downtown Historic District. To see if the building is historic, click here 

Ready to apply for a permit? Visit our Permit Center below.