First Time Applying for a Building Permit

Your Role

Most people who are applying for permits do it voluntarily. There is something you want to build and you are taking the necessary steps to make that happen. This is not always the case. You may be required to resolve a substandard housing violation, or you are trying to get a business license and are being asked to make repairs. Or you may have a greater planning application, such as cannabis cultivation license application, and are being required to permit all structures associated with your cannabis farm. Regardless of your reasons for getting a building permit, the process described below remains the same.

Step 1 | Determine What Needs Permits

The first step is to figure out what needs permits. Humboldt County Code (HCC)  §331-11(a)(4) and California Building Code (CBC) §105.2 describe development that does not require a building permit. If your development fits one of these descriptions, chances are you will not need a building permit. Note that the CBC allows fences up to 7ft without a permit while HCC only allows fences up to 6ft. Because the most restrictive requirement applies (CBC §, all fences over 6ft will require a building permit in Humboldt County.

If you are involved in a code violation it should be made clear to you what needs building permits in a correction document provided to you. The same is true for a cannabis license application. The Planning Division will issue a staff report which details what requires building permits. If you are still uncertain you can talk with a Permit Technician, and they will work with you to understand your development and what will require a building permit.

Step 2 | Gather All Construction Documents

Once you understand what needs permits it is time to gather all construction documents (CBC §107) required for permit issuance. Because the Building Division requires a complete submittal before starting a permit record you will need to submit all construction documents at once. Speak with a Permit Technician to learn what documents and forms will be required for your development. Additionally you can visit the Construction Documents subpage to learn more about construction documents, who makes them, and when they are required. 

Step 3 | Submit All Construction Documents

Before submitting you must provide a Building Application (or Over the Counter Building Application) and proof of property ownership (a grant deed). If you are an agent representing the owner you must provide a signed Agent Authorization form. You can submit construction documents in person at 3015 H St, Eureka or you can email If using email please use PDF files only, name your construction documents with the following Naming Conventionsand include your building permit number in the subject line of the email. If you do not have a building permit number please use your Accessor Parcel Number (APN) instead.

Step 4 | Preliminary Site Inspection (Presite Inspection)

When a complete submittal has been provided, we will start your building application, collect preliminary fees, and may schedule a building inspector to do a preliminary site inspection. Some development won’t need this inspection. For example, a service panel swap would not require a presite inspection. Generally speaking, any development which includes new structures, an expansion of a building footprint, or an extensive interior remodel will require a presite inspection. At this inspection the inspector will determine if additional construction documents will be required and if the site plan needs more information.

Step 5 | Plan Check Review

Once you have provided all submittal documents requested from your inspector your building application will move to plan check. Plan Checkers will review your construction documents for conformance with all applicable building codes and may request revisions to these documents. Multiple revisions may be requested.

Step 6 | Permit Issuance & Construction

When the plan checkers approve your submittal, we will contact you to pick up and pay for your building permit! This is when the bulk of your building permit fees will be collected. It is then your responsibility to keep your permit documents on-site (CBC §105.7) and call for inspections (CBC §110.1). See the Inspections subpage to learn more about the inspection process.

Step 7 | Certificate of Occupancy & Permit Finalization

Once your inspector has completely signed off your building permit card you can request a certificate of occupancy (CBC §111). At this point you are done with the Building Division!

If you are getting building permits for a code violation you may need to contact the Code Enforcement Division to ensure the code violation has been resolved. Similarly, if you are getting building permits as required for a planning application you should contact the Planning Division to see if further action is required.

Other Info

Below are some general sources of information to help 1st time applicants prepare for the building permit application process. For more information or help, please call the Building Inspection Division at 707-445-7245 or 800-900-4034.