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Permits Not Required

A permit or permits are required for most construction or repair activities regulated by code. Exceptions are listed below. In such cases, the work must still conform to all technical codes and applicable city, county and state ordinances.* Questions regarding whether a permit is required may be directed to (949) 724-6471 . For permit processing requirements click here.


*Note:  Please consult with your Homeowners' Association to see if your project is allowed within your association's CC&Rs.


Building permits. A building permit is not required for the following:

  • One-story detached buildings accessory on a single family home site used as tool and storage sheds, or playhouses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet (11.15 m2). Note: This exception does not apply to patio covers which are subject to permit regardless of size; be sure to contact the Development Assistance Counter for specific setback requirements at (949) 724-6308.
  • Fences not over 7 feet (1829 mm) high, and not retaining over 18 inches of earth on either side. Be advised, however, that height limitations of the City of Irvine Zoning Code are still applicable. Contact the Development Assistance Counter at (949) 724-6308 for assistance in defining height limitations.
  • Movable cases, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches (1753 mm) high.
  • Retaining walls which 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 flammable liquids. Movable cases, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches (1753 mm) high.
  • Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons (18 925 L) and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2: 1.
  • Platforms, walks and driveways not more than 30 inches (762mm) above grade and not over any basement or story below.
  • Painting, papering and similar finish work.
  • Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.
  • Window awnings supported by an exterior wall of Group R, Division 3, and Group U Occupancies when projecting not more than 54 inches (1372 mm).
  • Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R, Division 3 Occupancy in which the pool walls are entirely above the adjacent grade and if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons (18 925 L). Note: A 2 foot minimum setback is required from any associated pool equipment and any property line.
  • Replacement windows and doors having the same dimension as those being replaced and not requiring any change to the structural frame or opening size.  Such replacements must still conform to all technical codes and applicable city, county and state ordinances relating to weather proofing, security and energy efficiency. For questions relating to these requirements, please call (949) 724-6471. 

Unless otherwise exempted, separate plumbing, electrical and mechanical permits will be required for the above exempted items.


Plumbing permits. A plumbing permit is not required for the following:


  • The stopping of leaks in drains, soil, waste or vent pipe, provided, however, that should any concealed trap, drain pipe, soil, waste or vent pipe become defective and it becomes necessary to remove and replace the same with new material, the same shall be considered as new work and a permit shall be procured and inspection made as provided in this code.
  • The clearing of stoppages or the repairing of leaks in pipes, valves or fixtures, nor the removal and reinstallation or replacement of water closets, sinks, garbage disposals or dishwashers provided such work does not involve or require the replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes or fixtures

Electrical permits. An electrical permit is not required for the following:


  • Portable motors or other portable appliances energized by means of a cord or cable having an attachment plug end to be connected to an approved receptacle when that cord or cable is permitted by the Electrical Code. 
  • Repair or replacement of fixed motors, transformers or fixed approved appliances of the same type and rating in the same location.
  • Temporary decorative lighting. This does not include exterior commercial lighting except for short term holiday lighting.
  • Repair or replacement of current-carrying parts of any switch, contactor or control device.
  • Reinstallation of attachment plug receptacles, but not the outlets therefore.
  • Repair or replacement of any overcurrent device of the required capacity in the same location.
  • Repair or replacement of electrodes or transformers of the same size and capacity for signs or gas tube systems.
  • Taping joints.
  • Removal of electrical wiring.
  • Temporary wiring for experimental purposes in suitable experimental laboratories.
  • The wiring for temporary theater, motion picture or television stage sets.
  • Electrical wiring, devices, appliances, apparatus or equipment operating at less than 25 volts and not capable of supplying more than 50 watts of energy.
  • Low-energy power, control and signal circuits of Class II and Class III as deemed in the Electrical Code.
  • A permit shall not be required for the installation, alteration or repair of electrical wiring, apparatus or equipment or the generation, transmission, distribution or metering of electrical energy or in the operation of signals or the transmission of intelligence by a public or private utility in the exercise of its function as a serving utility.


Mechanical permits. A mechanical permit is not required for the following:


  • A portable heating appliance.
  • Portable ventilating equipment.
  • A portable cooling unit.        
  • A portable evaporative cooler.
  • A closed system of steam, hot or chilled water piping within heating or cooling equipment regulated by the Mechanical Code.
  • Replacement of any component part of assembly of an appliance which does not alter its original approval and complies with other applicable requirements of the technical codes.
  • Refrigerating equipment which is part of the equipment for which a permit has been issued pursuant to the requirements of the technical codes.
  • A unit refrigerating system as defined in the Mechanical Code.