Building Code – Part 2

Sometime around 2625 BC the first true, smooth-sided pyramid was built by King Snefru. Then in 2600 BC, the largest and most famous of all the pyramids, the Great Pyramid at Giza, was built by Snefru’s son, Khufu, known also as Cheops, the later Greek form of his name. The pyramid’s base covered over 13 acres and its sides rise at an angle of 51 degrees 52 minutes and were over 755 feet long. It originally stood over 481 feet high; today it is 450 feet high. Scientists estimate that its stone blocks average over two tons apiece, with the largest weighing as much as fifteen tons each. There is a consensus among historians that the building plans for this great pyramid were altered, not once, not twice, but three times. Even the great architects of ancient Egypt needed a plan review process.

Today, the plans you submit, Plot Plan, Floor Plan, Elevation drawings, etc., to Oakley’s Building Division as part of the building permit process are also required to go through plan review. Plans are typically routed to the Planning and Engineering departments and to the Fire District, Ironhouse Sanitation District, Diablo Water District and when required the Health Department. Each department or Special District checks to see if what you want complies with the building codes and zoning ordinances adopted by the city.

During plan review the responsible party will make a list of any discrepancies between what you propose to do and what the regulations will allow. They will identify potential code violations prior to construction. This step in the process is critical prior to beginning construction because it may be necessary to revise drawings for code compliance. The turnaround time for most projects is 15 working days.

When the plan review process is complete the Building Division notifies the permit applicant. Depending on how well the plans conformed to codes a permit is issued or a list of plan review corrections that need to be addressed or revised then resubmitted for review is presented.

Unfortunately the permit comes with a price tag. Only one fee is due when the permit application is filed, the Plan Review fee, any other fee is due when the permit is issued. These fees are based on the size and value of the project. 

After you have been approved for your building permit, you have the legal permission to start construction. The Building Division will work with the permit holder through the course of their construction. On site inspections will be performed to make certain the work conforms to the permit.

What happens if you’ve already built or are in the process of building that small addition without a permit? There are not any staff members of the Building Division roving the streets looking for stacks of building material on your driveway. Typically the staff works from complaints. Maybe the workshop you constructed is too close to the neighbor’s property line or the 9-foot fence you added is blocking someone’s view. In these cases an inspector will respond and if they find that work is being done without a permit they will issue a “Stop Work Order”. The order can only be lifted when a permit is issued. If the work is complete a permit can still be obtained. Just like the normal process, plans must be submitted, the review process completed, then a permit is issued and an inspection is performed to validate that the construction meets the current code.

The Building Division counter is the logical place to start with any construction project you may be planning. At the counter permits are issued, questions are answered and on smaller projects the plan review process may be completed. The counter is generally open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Building Division is located at 3231 Main Street and can be reached at 625-7000.

Thanks to Brent Smith, Building Official, for his technical assistance.

About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit, Transplan, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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