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Building Permits

What types of projects do not require a building permit?

Even though construction work may not require a building permit, a permit for electrical, plumbing or mechanical may be required. At the same time, it is not exempt from any other City Ordinances, State or Federal Law or any other public agency requirements.

Small Accessory Buildings
One story detached accessory buildings used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses are exempt, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet. This structure must be built in accordance with all applicable codes and shall not contain any plumbing, mechanical or electrical features.

Walls and Fences
  • Timber fences not over seven feet high from grade on either side of the fence are exempt
  • Masonry fences not over five feet high from grade on either side of the fence are exempt, except that masonry or concrete walls, or any retaining walls over 4' high, measured from the bottom of the footing shall require a permit.
  • Walls supporting a surcharge are not exempt unless they are 4' feet or less in height, measured from the bottom of the footing.
Even though a building permit may not be required, all fences or retaining walls must be located completely on private property, including the footing, and must be constructed in accordance with the Building Code. To determine where the public right-of-way ends and private property begins along a street or alley, you may need to consult an engineer or land surveyor.

Pools, and Spas
Any structure intended for swimming or recreational bathing that contains water less than 18 inches deep accessory to single family residences, duplexes or lodging houses are exempt. However, plumbing and electrical permits may be required. Observe all State mandated pool barrier requirements. Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R-3 occupancy that are less than 18 inches deep, do not exceed 5,000 gallons and are installed entirely above ground are exempt.

Paving, Decks and Platforms
Platforms, walks and driveways not more than 30 inches above grade, without any roof framing elements, and not over any basement or story below are exempt. Outside paving is exempt.

Note: Any work in the public right-of-way may require an encroachment permit.

Driveway curb cuts always require a permit.

Some awnings, accessory to single family residences, duplexes, or lodging houses, are exempt from building permits. Awnings projecting horizontally out to 54" and attached to and entirely supported by exterior walls are exempt. .

Temporary Structures
Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery are exempt. Tents are regulated by the Fire Marshal, for additional information or clarification, visit the Fire Services administration office or call (209) 668-5580.

Miscellaneous Accessory Structures (residential only)
Antennas supported on a roof are exempt from a building permit. Antennas on grade, not over 30 feet in height when fully extended, are also exempt. Flag poles not over 30 feet in height above finished grade, are exempt. All antenna supports and flag poles must be designed and anchored to withstand the loads imposed.

Interior Remodeling
The following types of interior work are exempt from a building permit:
  • Cases, counters and partitions not over 69 inches in height
  • Painting, papering and similar finish or decorative work
  • Installation of floor coverings
  • Cabinet work
If the work is being done in a commercial building and involves a change of use (per California Building Code definition) or Occupancy of the building, a building permit shall be required. If in doubt, call (209) 668-5560 for further information.

Repairs and Replacements
Repair or replacement of roof coverings not exceeding one hundred square feet (100 sq. ft.) on any building does not require a permit as long as there is not replacement of structural members such as roof sheathing or rafters. Repairs which involve only the replacement of component parts of existing equipment with similar materials are exempt.

Note: Such repairs shall not include any addition, change or modification in construction, exit facilities or permanent fixtures or equipment.
  • Repair or replacement of toilets & faucets
  • Replacement of electrical outlets and switches (in existing boxes)
  • Replacement of overcurrent devices such as circuit breakers and fuses. (Replacement of a main disconnect does require a permit)
  • Replacement of any component part of an appliance which does not alter its original approval and listing

Hospital and School Buildings
Hospital and public school buildings under the jurisdiction of the State of California are generally exempt from City of Turlock building permits. However, plans may be required for off-site improvements and for road encroachment permits.


No permit will be required for clearing stoppages, or the repair of leaks in soil, waste, or vent pipes, valves, fixtures, or replacement of exposed traps in existing plumbing systems serving lavatories, sinks, laundry trays, and/or similar fixtures. No permit will be required for the replacement of existing residential plumbing fixtures where no change in the plumbing configuration is required.

Water heater replacement requires a Building permit.

If it is necessary to replace any part of the pipe with new material, a permit will be required.

Unless specifically listed in these exemptions, all plumbing work in the City of Turlock requires a permit. For clarification consult the current Plumbing and Mechanical Code Supplement or call our office at (209) 668-5560.


No permit will be required for minor work such as replacing fuses, replacing or repairing switches, circuit breakers, lamp holders, ballasts or receptacles.

The replacement must be the same size and general type as the original equipment and the work must be done in accordance with the National Electrical Code.

No permit will be required for the replacement of lamps or the connection of portable appliances to suitable receptacles previously permanently installed. No permit will be required for the installation, alteration, or repair of wiring, devices, appliances or equipment operating at 25 volts or less between conductors and not capable of supplying more than 50 watts of energy.

No permit will be required for installation made by a public service corporation acting as allowed in the National Electrical Code Article 90.2. No permit will be required for the installation of remote control switching devices on privately owned appliances when such devices are installed by the servicing Gas and Electric Company or their authorized agents as part of an energy conservation program.

Unless specifically listed in these exemptions, all electrical work in the City of Turlock requires a permit. For clarification, consult the current California Electrical Code or call our office at (209) 668-5560


No permit will be required for the repair of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, or refrigeration equipment.

If the repair requires removal of the equipment from its installed position, or the replacement of faulty controls, valves, or driers, a permit is required.

No permit will be required for the installation of temperature controls, repairing leaks, or recharging refrigeration compressors or systems. Only in private residences, no permit is required for the installation, servicing, or repair of ice machines.

Unless specifically listed in these exemptions, all heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration work in the City of Turlock requires a permit. For clarification consult the current Plumbing and Mechanical Code or call our office at (209) 668-5560.

For more information or concerns about a building permit, please contact:

Building and Safety Division
156 S. Broadway, Ste. 130
Turlock, CA 95380-5454
(209) 668-5560
Monday - Friday, 8AM - 5PM

Effective August 10, 2020, and continuing until further notice, Development Services (Building, Engineering, and Planning Divisions) public counter will be closed. We will continue to assist you through scheduled appointments, our online services, email, mail, and by phone. Thank you for your understanding as we strive to provide customer service in a safe and effective manner.

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