After-The-Fact Permit Process

When you purchase or construct a building without the benefit of plans, a permit, and inspections, the structure may not comply with Building Codes and may be unsafe. The purpose of the Building Codes is to establish minimum requirements to safeguard public health, safety, and general welfare.  By following code guidelines, your completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, and your friends or future owners. Mandatory inspections complement the contractor’s experience and act as a system of checks and balances resulting in a safer project. 


The after-the-fact permitting process will bring your project into compliance with the California Building Codes. The Community Development Agency is committed to helping you with this process. The presentation (available below) walks through the process step by step to help alleviate some of the confusion. Please do not hesitate to contact the Agency with any questions or concerns you may have. The As-Built Construction for R and U Occupancies policy provide an overview of the process and associated requirements.  The After-the-Fact Workbook provides you with a  simple way to keep track of all the information you will need to permit your structure. 

Step 1: Meet with CDA Department Staff

Community Development staff are ready to assist you before you prepare your plans. The CDA lobby is open from 8:00-3:30 M-F and appointments are not necessary.  Planning Department staff will be able to give you setback information for your specific parcel, land use information specific to your project, and can help walk you through any land use challenges you are facing. Environmental Health Department staff will answer your questions about wells and septic systems. Building Department staff will answer your questions about structural and fire/life safety issues. If you are inexperienced in the permitting process you might consider inviting a design professional/contractor to help clarify the requirements. You are welcome to come in and meet with a CDA staff member face to face, call (530-265-1222), or email for assistance.

Step 2: Research Permit History

Understanding what structures have and have not been permitted is the first steps in after-the-fact permitting. Coming into the office and discussing your project with a permit technician can answer many of your questions and help to put your mind at ease. In addition, you can complete a Records Request to get all CDA-related documents on file for your parcel. You can also use the MyNeighborhood Mapping system to find permit records.

Step 3: Establish the Date of Construction and Applicable Code Edition

The date of construction forms the basis for the review of your construction plans. Review the Establish the Date of Construction handout for more information on methods of establishing your date of construction. The Building codes are updated every three years. The current code edition is the 2022 edition. If you commenced construction in 2009 your project would fall under the 2007 CBC, CRC, CEC, etc. See this Introduction to California Building Standards Code for a list of code editions. 

Step 4: Estimate Construction Costs 

The decision to move forward with after-the-fact permitting is largely driven by how much it will cost. Grading a fire-safe driveway or upgrading septic system tanks and leach lines can be costly. Permit and impact fees must also be considered. Fee estimates for Eastern and Western Nevada County are available for review. 

Step 5: Develop Plans and Construction Documents

A complete set of construction plans includes many important parts. The Building Application Handbook provide a complete summary of what is required. You may have been able to get original plans via a records request that is part of the submittal. The construction plans should be substantially equivalent to what is required for a conventionally permitted project. The Nevada County Contractor's Association is a good resource for identifying design professionals, draftspersons and contractors in our area. 

Step 6: Apply for a Permit

You can apply for a permit online or in person at the CDA lobby.  A complete set of construction documents is required to apply for a permit. Be sure to provide a complete permit description and all other information required during the application process. Take a look at the Residential Submittal Checklist for more information.

Step 7: Track the Application Process Online

One of the important aspects of the application process is that you are responsible for periodically checking on the status of your application. You will be notified when the permit application has been routed, when all reviews have been completed and when the permit is ready to be issued. Other than that you may have corrections that you can address posted to the Citizen Access Portal. To save time check back frequently so you don’t miss any important information.

Step 8: Plan Check

The plan check process is similar to a conventional review with a few additional requirements. The first is a scan of the foundation to confirm that the required reinforcement is present. Next, certification that the building is structurally sound is required by a licensed engineer. Finally letters from licensed electrical, plumbing and mechanical contractors certifying that the building meets minimum code standards may be required depending on the scope of work. In place of the letters components of the building can be exposed for inspection purposes.  

Step 9: Inspections

The inspection procedures are detailed in the Inspection Procedures for As-Built Structures handout.


Unpermitted Permitting Process Video

  • Watch the as-built permit process video.
  • Tips to view:
    • Select "open" from the dialog box that pops up.
    • To exit full screen hit escape on your keyboard. 
    • To view the presentation again click on the replay button.