Building Division

Development Center Closed Due to City Response to COVID-19

Palo Alto Accepts Online Pre-Applications for Building Permits

As of Tuesday March 24, 2020, the City of Palo Alto’s Planning and Development Services Department accepts online pre-applications for building permits. Pre-applications can be filed online through  Palo Alto’s Accela Citizen Access portal link: click here ( 

Please visit our Online Permitting Services web page to learn more.

The Energy Reach Code Ordinance, which requires “All-Electric” designs for all new low-rise residential projects, takes effect on April 1, 2020. This pre-application process will allow applicants to submit their projects before the new code takes effect. For additional information regarding the pre-application submittals, please contact Development Services at (650) 329-2496 and press 1.

Online Permit Services

The following building permit categories are currently available to licensed contractors online through the Citizen Access Portal. For all other permit types and for owner builder permits please call (650) 329-2496 to schedule an appointment or to submit remotely.

  • Water Back Flow Device
  • Boiler replacement (same location less than 399k BTU)
  • Furnace Replacement (same location)
  • Repair Gas Leak
  • Repipe-Water Piping System
  • Re-Roof
  • Water Heater (No Tankless)
  • Window Retrofit (Residential Only)

Online Inspection Services and iRequest Mobile App

iRequest Mobile App – Download this app from your Google Play store or iTunes account to quickly view all Building or Fire permits, request single or multiple inspections, cancel or reschedule inspections and view inspection history all within a few clicks. 

Accela Citizen Access (ACA) – View all Building or Fire permits, request single or multiple inspections, cancel or reschedule inspections and view inspection history

The Building Division serves as a resource for homeowners, businesses, designers and contractors. The goal of our staff is to help our customers build safe, healthy and sustainable buildings that comply with applicable codes and regulations. We see ourselves as an integral part of each project team and are committed to establishing positive working relationships with our partners, while focusing on problem solving and delivering exceptional customer service. 

Ordinance Addresses Expired Building Permits & Planning Applications/Entitlements 

On May 4, 2020, the Palo Alto City Council adopted Ordinance 5496 which temporarily suspends the expiration of Building Applications, Building Permits, Planning Applications, and Planning Entitlements. The ordinance automatically extends these applications and permits if their valid and  not in ‘expired’ status as of March 16, 2020.  

Planning Applications/Entitlements and Building Applications/Permits that were in ‘ACTIVE’ status on March 16, 2020 will be automatically extended six (6) months after the Shelter in Place (SIP) order is lifted.  No action is required on your part. The extensions will be automatically administered by City staff. 

Planning Applications/Entitlements and Building Applications/Permits expired or not valid prior to March 16, 2020 are not eligible for the automatic permit extension. Applicants and permit holders must apply for reactivation of their permits and applications.   Please fill out a request form to reactivate building permits and email completed form to   Please email or call (650) 329-2288 if you have additional questions regarding expired building permits.   For questions on expired Planning Applications/Entitlements, please contact Planner on Duty at (650)617-3117 or email

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City Of Palo Alto Public Protection Classification

ISO collects information from communities in the United States on their adoption and enforcement of
building codes. ISO analyzes the data using its Building Code Effectiveness Grading Schedule (BCEGS™) and then assigns a BCEGS™ Classification number to the community. The classification number-which ranges from 1 to 10, measures a jurisdiction's commitment to the adoption and enforcement of building codes affecting the construction of new buildings. Class 1 indicates the most favorable classification of commitment to the adoption and enforcement of building codes. The Building Division is currently classified as a 1 and the Fire Department is classified as a 2.

Accessibility Plan Review Comments

The City of Palo Alto offers the services of our California Access Compliance Specialist Inspectors to walk commercial projects prior to construction--often during the plan check process. This allows the design team additional time to address site conditions, preventing delays at the end of the construction phase, when the owner is eager to move into their new space. Our goal is to help you reduce delays as a consequence of inspection corrections, prevent reinspections, reduce job cost overruns, and ameliorate accessibility lawsuits. [ Resources for Accessibility Information ]

2019 California Building Standards Code

The City of Palo Alto has adopted the 2019 California Code of Regulations, Title 24 with certain amendments. These codes, and amendments, are effective on January 1st 2020. All projects submitted after January 1, 2020 must comply with the 2019 California Building Codes and the City of Palo Alto amendments. View the Palo Alto Municipal Code

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