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Building Permits

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City Manager Declaration of Emergency-City of National City, Development Services, Engineering & Fire Department

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis the City Manager has declared a temporary emergency change to N.C.M.C. Section 15.08.040. This action will be to provide relief to residents and businesses regarding expired building permits.  

Effective March 1, 2020 through August 31, 2020, the following temporary modifications are being made to the currently adopted N.C.M.C. Section 15.08.040.

  • Any and all building permits which were obtained during the time period noted above shall now be extended for an additional period of 6 months.Permits are currently valid for a period of 12 months; this will extend the validity of said permits to 18 months.

This change was ratified by the National City Council on May 5, 2020.  Permit extension fees associated with this program will be waived.  All other requirements as specifically called out in N.C.M.C Section 15.08.040 shall still apply.


Commercial and Residential water heater replacement permit.

Commercial and Residential re-roof permit.


Please select link below to find out more information.


  • Permits may be legally obtained by a contractor who is licensed by the state, licensed for a particular class of work, in possession of a valid National City business license and provides the City a copy of their valid Workers Compensation insurance;
  • Permits may be legally obtained by the property owner (owner/builder) for work on a single family dwelling if the owner/builder is qualified and personally performs all labor or acts as the General Contractor utilizing one of the following methods:
    1. Exclusively contracts with licensed contractors as mentioned above;
    2. His or her employees perform the work with wages as their sole compensation.  If this method for performing the work is utilized the owner/builder must provide proof of worker’s compensation insurance to cover all employees prior to the issuance of a permit. 
    3. Generally, unless permits are applied for by a licensed contractor, the owner of the property must appear to sign the permit forms for owner/builder projects.  Property owner may authorize an agent to act on his/her behalf.  Authorization must be in writing addressed to National City Planning and Building Department.
    4. If a tenant is requesting to do the work themselves, they must provide a letter from the property owner authorizing their tenant to act as owner/builder on the permit, and they understand that the tenant will physically doing the work.  Note:  On an owner/builder permit, the property owner is responsible for work done on their property.  Please be advised, some property owners will not allow their tenants to do any type of work at their rental/leased properties and require that all work be done by a licensed contractor).

CAUTION: As an owner/builder you assume the role of a general contractor.  You, not your employees nor persons hired for labor, assume the responsibility for the overall project.  This responsibility includes such things as taxes, materials and labor liens, workers compensation insurance, job completion and other legal liabilities related to the project.


A building permit must be obtained before starting any work except as referred to herein.  Section 113.1, Appendix, Chapter 1 of the California Building Code states:  “It shall be unlawful for any person firm or corporation to erect, construct, alter, extend, repair, move, remove, demolish or occupy any building, structure or equipment regulated by this code, or cause same to be done, in conflict with or in violation of any of the provisions of this code”.  Separate permits are also required for electrical, mechanical and plumbing work, both new and repairs.  Failure to obtain permits may constitute a violation of city ordinances.  The Development Services Group should always be contacted for questions regarding permit requirements.


Exemptions from permit requirements of this code shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of this code or any other laws or ordinances of this jurisdiction.  Permits shall not be required for the following:


  • One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet (11 m2). 
  • Fences not over 6 feet (1829 mm) high
  • Oil derricks
  • Retaining walls that are not over three feet (1219 mm) in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II or IIIA liquids.  (Permits for retaining walls are issued by Engineering Department)
  • Water tanks supported directly on grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons (18,925 L) and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2:1.
  • Sidewalks and driveways not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above adjacent grade, and not over any basement or story below and are not part of an accessible route
  • Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work.
  • Temporary motion picture, television, and theater stage sets and scenery.
  • Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R-3 occupancy that are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep, do not exceed 5,000 gallons (18925 L) and are installed entirely above ground.
  • Shade cloth structures constructed for nursery or agricultural purposes, not including service systems.
  • Swings and other playground equipment accessory to detached one- and two-family dwellings.
  • Window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches (1372 mm) from the exterior wall and do not require additional support of Group R-3 and U occupancies.
  • Non-fixed and movable fixtures, cases, racks, counters, and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches (1753 mm) in height.
  • Playground, gymnastic and similar equipment and structures
  • Repairs to lawfully existing Group R Division 3 structures and Group U occupancy structures constructed pursuant to a building permit which involves only the replacement of component parts or existing work completed with similar materials only for the purpose of maintenance and do not affect any structural components or plumbing, mechanical or electrical installations.  Repairs exempt from permit requirements shall not include any addition, change or modification in construction, exit facilities or permanent fixtures or equipment. 
    Specifically exempt from permit requirements are:

    (1) Painting and decorating including refinishing or exterior stucco finishes.
    (2) Installation of floor covering.
    (3) Cabinet work.
    (4) Outside paving on private property, not within the public right-of-way.

  • Ground mounted satellite antennas not exceeding ten feet in diameter and roof mounted satellite antennas not exceeding eight feet in diameter.
  • Painted wall signs and Styrofoam or other foam mounted wall signs.


  • Repairs and maintenance:  Minor repair work, including the replacement of lamps, or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles. 
  • Radio and television transmitting stations:  The provisions of this code shall not apply to electrical equipment used for radio and television transmissions, but do apply to equipment and wiring for a power supply and the installation of towers and antennas. 
  • Temporary testing systems:  A permit shall not be required for the installation of any temporary system required for the testing or servicing of electrical equipment or apparatus.  


  • Portable heating appliance
  • Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe.


  • Portable heating appliance.
  • Portable ventilation equipment
  • Portable cooling unit.
  • Steam, hot or chilled water piping within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by this code.
  • Replacement of any part that does not alter its approval or make it unsafe.
  • Portable evaporative cooler.
  • Self-contained refrigeration system containing 10 pounds (5 kg) or less of refrigerant and actuated by motors of 1 horsepower (746 W) or less.


The stopping of leaks in drains, water, soil, waste or vent pipe, provided, however, that if any concealed trap, drain pipe, water, soil, waste or vent pipe becomes defective and it becomes necessary to remove and replace the same with the new material, such work shall be considered as new work and a permit shall be obtained and inspections made as provided for in this code.

The clearing of stoppages or the repairing of leaks in pipes, valves or fixtures and the removal and re-installation of water closets, provided such repairs do not involve or require the replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes or fixtures.

Emergency repairs

Where equipment replacements and repairs must be performed in an emergency situation, the permit application shall be submitted on the next business day to the building official.


Application or notice to the building official is not required for ordinary repairs to structures, replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles.  Such repairs shall not include the cutting away of any wall, partition or portion thereof, the removal or cutting of any structural beam or load-bearing support, or the removal or change of any required means of egress, or rear-arrangement of parts of a structure affecting the egress requirements; nor shall ordinary repairs include addition to, alteration of, replacement or relocation of any standpipe, water supply, sewer, drainage, drain leader, gas, soil, waste, vent or similar piping, electric wiring or mechanical or other work affecting public health or general safety.

Public Service Agencies

A permit shall not be required for the installation, alteration or repair of generation, transmission, distribution or metering or other related equipment that is under the ownership and control of public service agencies by established right.


  • Construction of any and all buildings and/or structures;
  • Repairs, remodels or alterations;
  • Any electrical, mechanical and/or plumbing repairs, remodels or alterations;
  • Fences over 7’ (contact Planning Division for special review areas for fences over 4’ in front yard setbacks).
  • Lath and stucco/plastering;
  • Swimming pools, spas, hot tubs, fountains;
  • Any solar installation;
  • Re-roofing involving tear-off of original roof;
  • All types of window replacements;
  • Demolition (This requirement will also insure that demolished structures are removed from the tax rolls)



The Building Division is now accepting building plans via email. Plans must be in PDF format and can not exceed 10 MB in size. Please submit your plans to Please bear with us as we work to further improve our electronic plan submittal process. 

The City of National City requires all projects proposed for construction and which require a plan review pay a $15.00 Permit Filing Fee and the Building Division Plan fee at the time of plan submittal.  The plan review fee is based on square footage or construction valuation.  Other permit fees are as follows:

  1. BUILDING PERMIT FEES are based on the valuation of work proposed, computed on the cost per square foot for the type of construction intended.  The cost per square foot is based on a scale calculated and maintained by the City.  To obtain this information contact the Planning and Building Department at (619) 336-4210.
  2. PLAN CHECK FEES for buildings are based on 65% of building permit for commercial/industrial/residential projects, excluding electrical, mechanical and plumbing plans.  The plan review fee is based on square footage or construction valuation.
  3. ELECTRICAL PERMIT FEES are computed on the number of switches, light fixtures, receptacles and other electrical items proposed for installations as listed on the electrical permit fees form in the Planning and Building Department. 
  4. MECHANICAL PERMIT FEES are computed on the items as listed on the mechanical permit fees form and as proposed for installation.
  5. PLUMBING PERMIT FEES are computer on the items as listed on the plumbing permit fees form and as proposed for installation.
  6. OTHER FEES may include Energy, Microfilm, Access Plan Check, SMIP, Park Fund and Sewer, Construction and Demolition, Transportation Development Impact, Planning, Fire and Engineering Department Plan Check.

EXPIRATION OF PLAN REVIEW: Time limitation of plan check application.  An application for a permit for any proposed work shall be deemed to have been abandoned six months after the date of filing, unless such application has been pursued in good faith or a permit has been issued; except that the building official is authorized to grant a maximum of three extensions for an additional time of three months each, provided there have been no changes to the plans and that no new codes have been adopted since the initial plan check was conducted.  A fee equal to 25% of the initial plan check fee will be assessed for each plan check extension.  The extension shall be requested in writing and justifiable cause demonstrated.


  1. BUILDING PERMITS are required for any new building and/or structure; repairs, alterations, additions, remodels, signs, retaining walls, masonry garden walls, roofing and re-roofing, moving of buildings, demolishing of building and structures; etc.
  2. ELECTRICAL PERMITS are required when new wiring is installed, service panels are upgraded and or relocated (need SDG&E work order), when solar photo-voltaic systems are installed or modified or unsafe wiring is replaced or repaired.
  3. PLUMBING PERMITS are required for any new work, repairs, alterations, replacement of fixtures when trap is broken; any water, gas vent or waste lines, sewers, sewer-cap, lawn sprinkler, fire sprinkler systems, and other plumbing items;
  4. MECHANICAL PERMITS are required for any new work, repairs, alterations, replacement to any mechanical equipment, air conditioning and heating equipment, duct work or other mechanical items;
  5. SWIMMING POOL, SPA, HOT TUB PERMITS are required for any new work, repairs, alterations or replacement of any equipment;
  6. DEMOLITION PERMITS are required for the removal of all buildings and structures;

EXPIRATION OF PERMIT: Every permit issued by the City under the provisions of this code shall expire by limitation and become null and void if the building or work authorized by such permit is not commenced within six calendar months from the date of such permit, or if the building or work authorized by such permit is suspended or abandoned at any time after work has commenced for a period of six calendar months, or if the building or work authorized by such permit exceeds three calendar years from the issuance date of the permit.  Work shall be presumed to be suspended or abandoned if the permittee has not obtained a required inspection approval of work by the City within each six month period upon commencement of work authorized by such permit.


  • Submit to the Planning and Building Department four sets of plans and two of engineering calculations, energy computations, and any other supporting documentation, as required by the currently adopted Building, Plumbing, Mechanical, National Electrical Code and other applicable State, City and/or local codes.
  • Complete an application, plan review form and any other required forms applicable to the project as provided by the Planning and Building Department.  Pay filing and plan review fee.
  • Plans are reviewed by the Development Services Group for compliance with the various State, City and/or other applicable codes and ordinances, and if corrections or revisions are necessary, the applicant will be notified. 
  • The corrections/revisions must be made by the individual who prepared the plans.  All corrections can be made on the original tracings or new plans, with the required corrections and resubmitted for recheck.  Plans will only be rechecked over the counter if plan checker has designated it on the correction sheet and by appointment only.  Otherwise, plans must be resubmitted for recheck.  
  • After the plans have been approved, building permits signed and all fees have been paid, the project is ready to commence.

The issuing of a permit or stamping of the plans and specifications “APPROVED”, shall not be held to permit or approve the violation of any law, even though a violation may have been overlooked when plans were checked.

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