Construction Documents

“Construction documents” are construction designs and calculations required for building permit issuance. Each proposed development will require different construction documents based on the scope of the proposal and the location being developed. For example, a new commercial facility built in the flood zone will require more construction documents than an interior remodel of an existing residence.

Additionally, some construction documents will need to be created by certain design professionals. A registered design professional is required where the proposed development exceeds prescriptive requirements or where there is a commercial use (CBC §107.1) (CRC §R301.1.3.1). If you are uncertain where to find these professionals the Humboldt Builders Exchange Referral Guide is a good place to start.

Before starting a building permit record, a complete set of construction documents is required (also knows as a "complete submittal"). To determine what a complete submittal is for your proposed development discuss your project with a Permit Technician. To get the most out of this conversation bring a complete site plan. 

Below is a list of generalized project links to give you access to likely required forms and related handouts. They are grouped into the below categories. 

Over the Counter Development is development that does not require a standard plan review and can be issued a permit over the counter, however, if the below conditions exist a standard plan review will be required for projects listed as "Over the Counter Development".

  • An interior remodel includes a significant change of use (residential to commercial).
  • The proposal requires a referral to a Community Services District or Public Works.
  • If the project is in the coastal zone, A FEMA flood zone, or a streamside management area.
  • If the proposed development is outside prescriptive building code requirements
  • If Planning & Building staff determine a plan review is warranted for other reasons.

Larger Development is development that requires a standard plan review and can't be issued over the counter.

Keep in mind a complete submittal for your project will ultimately be determined by Planning and Building Department staff and the specifics of your proposed development.

Site Plan

  • What is a site plan? A site plan shows to scale the size and location of new construction and existing structures on the site, distances from lot lines, the established street grades, and the proposed finished grades in accordance with an accurate boundary line survey (CBC §107.2.6). Additionally, and if applicable, the site plan shall show flood hazard areas, floodways, design flood elevations, streamside management areas, vegetation management area, hydrant locations, firetruck turnarounds, and firewater tanks. In the case of demolition, the site plan shall show construction to be demolished and the location and size of existing structures and construction that are to remain on the site or plot.
  • When is a site plan required? Any development that proposes a new structure, an expanded building footprint, or placement of any utility equipment (except roof mounted PV systems) shall be required to submit a site plan. 
  • Who can create a site plan? A site plan may be created by the applicant. A registered design professional is required for commercial development. Please follow the Site Plan Checklist.

Construction Plans

  • What are construction plans? Construction plans are written, graphic and pictorial documents describing the design and physical characteristics of a proposed development. Construction documents shall be legible, dimensioned, and drawn on suitable material (CBC §107.2.1). Below is a list of construction plan views that are most often required.
    • Floor Plan – The floor plan is a bird–eye view showing the dimensions and use of each room in a structure including windows, doors, and egress windows and doors.
    • Elevations – Elevation plans show the height of the proposed structure, details on the exterior walls, required building code notes, and cross section details.
    • Foundation Plan – The foundation plan shows footing details, hold downs, shear wall schedule, required building code notes, and more.
    • Floor Framing Plan – The floor framing plan shows size, type, and spacing of joists, girders, required building code notes, and mechanical fasteners.
    • Braced Wall Plan – A braced wall plan describes the structures lateral bracing. A braced wall plan shall be provided if the proposed structure meets the requirements for a “regular building” (CRC §R301.2.2.6) and no structural calculations are provided.
    • Roof Framing Plan – Roof framing drawings show critical connections in the roof framing and detail framing members, fastener type/size, required building code notes, and mechanical fastener type and size.
    • Electrical Plan – Electrical plans detail required building code notes and electrical switches, outlets, and fixtures with their configuration overlaid on a floor plan.
    • PV (Photovoltaic) Plan – PV plans include a site plan (with ground mount systems), roof plan views showing roof access and path, a one-line diagram, and specification sheets for all equipment used. PV plans must be created by a General B, C-10, or a C-46 contractor.
    • One-Line Diagram – A one-line diagram describes the size and type of the equipment, conduit, sheathing, and conductors as well as applicable electrical calculations.
    • Plumbing Plan – The plumbing plans will provide a layout of plumbing, show all materials and appliances used, and will include notes on related building codes.
    • Sprinkler Plan – Sprinkler plans describe size and type of sprinkler supply pipe, water supply calculations, and shutoff locations. A sprinkler system must be designed by a C-16 contractor or a fire protection engineer.
    • Mechanical Plan – Mechanical plans or heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) plans detail what appliances will be used and includes notes about relevant building code requirements.
    • Utility Plan – A utility plan shows all connections from the proposed structure to community services like water and sewer. These plans are most common with large scale commercial building projects.
    • Grading and Erosion Control Plan – A grading and erosion control plan describes strategic removal and placement of earth material. In general, a grading plan is required when moving more than 50 cubic yards of cut and fill (HCC §331-14(d)). 
    • Landscape Plan – A landscape plan describes water use for proposed landscaped areas showing turf areas, low/moderate/high water use planting areas, water features, and areas irrigated with recycled areas (see MWELO Sample Landscape Plan).
    • Accessibility Plan – Accessibility plans show accessible routes and other accessibility requirements described in Chapter 11A and 11B of the California Building Code. Accessibility plans must be stamped by a California licensed architect or engineer.
  • When are construction plans required? Depending on the proposed development different plan views will be required. Generally speaking, if a plan view described above describes work you will be doing, it will be required.
  • Who can create construction plans? Construction plans may be created by the applicant when following prescriptive building code and when allowed by the building official. A registered design professional is required for all commercial development.

Energy Calculations (CF1R)

  • What are energy calculations? Energy calculations are documents required to meet CA Energy Codes performance route of compliance. The energy code is concerned with the energy efficiency of a conditioned space, utility equipment, and construction assemblies. The document required prior to permit issuance is the certificate of compliance (CF1R). During construction Certificates of Installation (CF2R) are required and, at final, Certificates of Verification (CF3R). Prior to permit issuance all that is required is the CF1R.
  • When is a CF1R required? A CF1R is always required when proposing to condition (heat or cool) a space and when replacing certain mechanical and electrical equipment (CA Administrative Code §10-103).
  • Who can create the CF1R? The applicant can take two routes to providing energy calculations; prescriptive or performance. Depending on the proposed development the CF1R may need to be registered with a HERS provider like CalCerts.

* Note that both routes are technical and are usually provided by a design professional or licensed contractor.

Structural Calculations

Structural calculations determine size, spacing, and type of structural members required. They must be produced by a registered design professional and are required whenever a design exceeds prescriptive requirements of the building code or when determined to be required by the building official (CBC §107.1) (CRC §R301.1.3.1).

Soils Report

  • What is a soils report? A soils report is an engineer’s analysis of a soil to be graded or soil that will be supporting a structure. It will provide required footing depth, foundation assemblies, and other recommendations based on the quality of soil.
  • When is a soils report required? Generally speaking, soils reports are required for building sites with high slopes, high seismic activity, and related hazards (HCC §336-5 Table 1). This Soils Report Calculator can be used to see if a soils report might be required for your development, however, the requirement for a soils report ultimately depends on the judgement of the building official and his deputies.
  • Who can create a soils report? A R1 soils report must be provided by a registered geologist (HCC §336-5(a)) and a R2 soils report must be provided by a registered geologist or a registered geotechnical engineer (HCC §336-5(b)).

Truss Calculations

Truss calculations describe the roof framing of a proposed structure and are required whenever trusses are used. They shall be designed by a registered design professional (CRC §R802.10.2).

Flood Elevation Certificate (FEC)

  • What is an FEC? An FEC is a document that establishes a structures base flood elevation, minimum floor elevations, and other design requirements to protect against a likely flood event.
  • When is an FEC required? New construction and substantial improvement of any structure in a special flood hazard area (SFHA) will require a structure specific FEC and shall have the lowest floor elevated to one (1) foot above the base flood elevation (HCC §335-5(a)(3)(A)). If you are planning to remodel a structure in the flood zone existing before July 19th,1982 please include this Substantial Improvements in the Flood Zone form with your submittal.
  • Who can create an FEC? An FEC must be created by a California licensed engineer, land surveyor, or architect.

Model Water Efficiency Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) Documentation

  • What is MWELO documentation? MWELO documentation provides designs for new and renovated landscapes. It is a statewide water conservation law concerned with the efficient use of water.
  • When is MWELO documentation required? MWELO documentation is required when more than 500 square feet of landscaped area is proposed. See the MWELO – General Handout and the Resource Library for more information.
  • Who can complete MWELO documentation? The prescriptive MWELO documentation can be completed by the applicant. The performance MWELO documentation must be completed by a licensed landscape architect or licensed landscape contractor.

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) Documentation

  • What is MS4 documentation? MS4 documentation requires designs which allow sufficient site drainage from storm events within denser populated areas. A primary concern is the square feet of impervious areas created from development. The more impervious area created, the more drainage features are required.
  • When is MS4 documentation required? Portions of McKinleyville, the greater Eureka area, and Shelter Cove are subject to MS4 documentation. See Part A – Applicability page 1 and 2 of the Humboldt Low Impact Development Stormwater Manual to see when and what is required for MS4 documentation.
  • Who can complete MS4 documentation? “Small” and “Exempt” projects may be completed by the applicant. “Regulated Projects” must be completed by a registered design professional.


This is not an exhaustive list of construction documents. Other forms, calculations, and/or designs may be required depending on the scope of your development.