Building and Safety FAQs


Q: When is a building permit required?

A: Permits are required for the erection, construction, enlargement, alteration, repair, moving, improvement, demolition or conversion of any building or structure, except as follows:

 Per California Building Code Chapter 2 Section [A] 105.2:

  1. One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area is not greater than 120 square feet (11 m2).

  2. Fences not over 7 feet (2134 mm) high.

  3. Oil derricks.

  4. Retaining walls that are not over 4 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 III liquids.

  5. Water tanks supported directly on grade if the capacity is not greater than 5,000 gallons (18 925 L) and the ratio of height to diameter or width is not greater than 2:1.

  6. 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.

  7. Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work.

  8. Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.

  9. Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R-3 occupancy that are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep, are not greater than 5,000 gallons (18 925 L) and are installed entirely above ground.

  10. Shade cloth structures constructed for nursery or agricultural purposes, not including service systems.

  11. Swings and other playground equipment accessory to detached one- and two-family dwellings.

  12. Window awnings in Group R-3 and U occupancies, 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.

  13. Nonfixed and movable fixtures, cases, racks, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches (1753 mm) in height.

Fresno County Title 15 Section 15.08.020 adds:

Item No.14: Flagpoles, radio and TV antennas less than thirty-five feet (35’) in height and without receiving dishes.

Item No.15 : Ground mounted satellite receiving dishes less than twelve feet (12’) in height, serving a R-3 occupancy.

Item No. 16: Transportable gypsum and fertilizer storage tanks for agricultural use.

Item No. 18: Detached one-story accessory structures as classified by a Group U occupancy not exceeding 240 sq. ft. floor/column area and 380 sq. ft. roof area, limited to a maximum ten-foot wall or post height. Shade structures with single- or two-point post bearing members not included. All persons claiming an exemption under this section shall comply with section15.08.030 of this Title. (See below for more information on Item No. 18.)


Q: How do I apply for an exemption for a structure under 240 sq. ft. in floor/column area?

A: These exemptions can be applied for like a normal construction permit through our Citizens Portal. 

You will be required to provide the following:

  1.  A detailed site plan

  2. An elevation sheet (there is a 10' plate height maximum for these structures)

  3. An operational statement clarifying the use of the building

  4. An owner-builder disclosure or a valid contractor's license number is required for permits

The cost for the permit will be a $72.10 Special Service fee for inspections and $62.00 County Processing Fee + an additional $7.73 Workers Comp and $1.00 fee required by the state for all building permits issued by our office. 

You will also be subject to additional fees if it is determined that a grading voucher/permit is required.

Williamson Act clearance may be required for parcels under an agricultural contract. 

A waste management plan will be required. This paperwork will be provided when we issue permits and you must submit completed paperwork to our Resources department.


Q: What are the minimum requirements for tiny homes/what qualifies as a tiny home?

A: If the proposed tiny home is the first dwelling unit on site, it must comply with the following: 

  1. Property is in compliance with the CA Subdivision Map Act

  2. County of Fresno Zoning, Grading, and Title 15 Ordinances

  3. CA Building Code

In addition to the above, foundational tiny homes and certain homes that are treated similar to RVs (because they are on wheels) would fall under the first of the two categories listed by HCD under the Tiny Home Info Bulletin (see the Summary section at the end).

  • While there is no current statutory definition, a tiny home sold, rented, leased or occupied with in California may be legal if used on an approved location, complies with all applicable laws, and is either:

  • Built on a chassis with axles; contains 400 square feet or less of gross floor area (excluding loft area space); is considered an RV, CC or PT; is not under HCD’s jurisdiction for the design and construction of the unit; and its construction and occupancy is enforced by local enforcement agencies with appropriate jurisdiction; or 

  • Not constructed on a chassis with axles; is placed on a foundation or otherwise permanently affixed to real property; and complies with CBSC or FBH standards; and may be enforced by local enforcement agencies having appropriate jurisdiction

Please contact our Zoning unit at or (559) 600-4540 for more information and to check if your property's zone district would allow for the installation of a tiny home. 

Q: Does the County of Fresno offer plans for Accessory Dwelling Units?

A: Yes! The County of Fresno is now offering plans for Accessory Dwelling Units at no cost. 

Please visit our ADU page for more information and to see the options for plans. 

Q: Can water piping and electrical conduit/cable be installed in the same trench?

A:Yes, no physical separation is required as long as the trench is deep enough to provide the minimum burial depth of the electrical conduit/cable.


Q: What is the minimum separation between a septic system and a water well?

A: A 50-foot minimum separation is required between the tank and any water well.
A 100-foot minimum separation is required between leach lines and water wells.


Q: What is required to be completed for a final inspection?

A: All work must be complete except the following:

  1. Painting

  2. Floor Covering

  3. Interior Doors and Finish



For additional information, please contact us at (559) 600-4560 or Email Building Inspectors