Home Builder Guide

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The Home Builder Guide has been prepared to assist homeowners or contractors who are unfamiliar with building and municipal Code sections in planning residential construction, alteration or repair work. This guide is intended to assist in planning, obtaining the necessary permits and inspections, and successfully completing work. We invite you to contact the Department of Community Development, in person or by telephone for any questions regarding specific code requirements


Planning the Project (Planning Division)

Building the Project (Building Division)



Q: What may I build?


A: What can be built on your property depends primarily on the how it is zoned. Properties have various zoning designations as stipulated on the Huntington Beach Zoning Map and General Plan Map. Development requirements such as lot coverage, building setbacks, floodplain compliance, building height, etc…will vary depending on the zone of the property.

Due to the complexity of the zoning laws, the only accurate way to obtain the zoning requirements for your proposed building or addition is to consult the Planning Division located on the third floor of City Hall. The Planning Division can be reached at (714) 536-5271. Basic zoning information can be obtained on-line at Computer Picture

Q: Where may I build on my property?


A: Depending on the zoning of a property, various minimum building setback requirements will apply.

Building setbacks identify front, rear and side areas of a property where the construction of a building, fence or other structures is prohibited (except as otherwise stated in the zoning ordinance). For example, if you’re located in the Residential Low Density (RL) zoning district the minimum rear setback is 10 feet, the minimum interior side yard setback is 5 feet, and the minimum front yard setback is 15 feet. All setbacks are measured to property lines.

Q: How big can I build?


A: Lot coverage is another factor that is important for any new construction or additions to existing structures. Lot coverage is the maximum area of a lot (your property) that may be covered by a structure or structures. Most lots permit up to 50 percent of the total lot area. Swimming pools and lattice patio covers are not counted towards lot coverage.

Floodplain compliance and many more zoning regulations may also affect the size of the structure.

Q: What is the planning process?


A: First, you need to obtain the zoning designation of your property and understand the development requirements for that zone. Then you would design your project accordingly to the specific zoning requirements. Once you have designed your project, the next step is to submit your drawings/plans to the Planning Division to begin the plan check process. Finally, once you have completed with the Planning and Zoning Department, you can then submit to the Department of Building and Safety for further plan check review and permits.

Q: Are there fees involved?


A: Please contact the Planning Division with a description or extent of work and we can generate an estimate of fees associated with your project if any.

*NOTE: All building plan check and permit fees will be collected by the Building Division.

Q: Is a permit required? Why?


A: Building permits are required to erect, enlarge, alter, remove, demolish, or repair a building or structure in the City of Huntington Beach. For example, permits are required for patio covers, fences, block walls, re-roofs, stairway & guardrail replacements, tenant improvements, signs and etc.

There are, however, instances when building permits are not required per the following list of Building Permit Exemptions.

Please call our general office number (714) 536-5241 if have any questions about when building permits may or may not be required.

Q: What is involved in obtaining a building permit?


A: The general permit process consists of:

  • Preparation of construction documents or plans and specifications. *Sample Plans
  • Getting approval from the Planning Department pertaining to the scope of work
  • Submission of construction documents to the Building Department for review
  • Coordinating with other departments such as Fire and Public Works and obtaining clearances/approvals as required
  • Payment of development fees (once all applicable departments have given approvals).
  • Permit issuance

Q: How much does a building permit cost?


A: There is no single fee for the various permits. Fees are based on the valuation of the project and the number of plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems. The building and planning plan check fee will be collected at the time the plans and documents for the structure are submitted for plan check. The permit fees will be collected at the time the permits are issued.

Please call a staff member with a description or extent of work and we can generate an estimate of fees associated with your project. Please refer to the fee schedule below for a summary of fees.

Fee Schedule

Q: How long does it take to get a building permit?


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A: Permit issuance times vary depending on the type and complexity of the scope of work. Many permits are processed and issued over-the-counter without a return visit. Some projects may have to be submitted and left at the City for additional review and plan check.

Q: Who can obtain a permit?


A: State law requires that all permits be obtained by a California Licensed Contractor or the property owner.

Contractors are required to have a current Huntington Beach City Business License, the appropriate State Contractors License and be prepared to show verification of Workers' Compensation Insurance unless working alone.

Property owners may obtain permits for their property as an owner-builder. No additional paperwork will be required other than a state photo ID such as a driver’s license. Please note that business owners may not obtain permits unless the business owner is also the property owner.

In order for an authorized agent or representative to obtain permits on behalf of a property owner, an Owner-Builder Verification Form must be signed by the property owner and submitted along with a copy of the owner's driver's license. The owner-builder verification form and the driver's license copy must provided before a permit will be issued.

Q: Who can build my project?


A: The property owner may choose to build the project him/herself or hire a licensed contractor.

Q: Where can I check if a contractor is licensed?


A: Please refer to the state website: California Contractors State License Board. The website provides valuable information regarding hiring a licensed contractor and an online check for a contractor’s registration status.

In addition, contractors must be licensed to work in this city. Contact the Business License Department at (714) 536-5267 for more information.

Q: What is a building inspection?

A: The city inspector checks the work that is being done for compliance with the approved plans and applicable codes and ordinances. The inspector will check each phase of the job and will approve it before the next part of the job begins.

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