Permits. Permits. Permits.

Do you need a permit in order to install solar panels? Absolutely and, depending on your location and property type, cost will vary.

Whenever you add something to a home or building, it’s always best to consult the city on the regulatory codes that govern such actions. Many people have been fined for adding structures and/or altering certain aspects of a home or building without approval – photovoltaic panels are no exception.

Added cost isn’t usually a reason to jump for joy, but the law is the law and if approval is stamped on our documents then that’s something we can rejoice in. At The Solar Company, we try to make your purchasing process as simple and cost-effective as possible. If you have specific concerns, please feel free to consult us.

As previously mentioned, throughout California, depending on the city/county of your residence or property in which you plan to install solar panels, permits are required for residential and commercial solar projects at varying costs.

Fortunately, in some areas of Northern California, such as Fremont and Walnut Creek, the city recognizes and supports green building. The local government appeal is directly related to the desire and hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; thus, by lowering permitting costs, the city hopes to bring about an incentive for residential and commercial property owners to go solar.

There are currently more than 550 jurisdictions in California – each with their own codes and regulations.

So how do I go about requesting for a permit?

There are two ways to request permit approval. One way is to have the property owner submit plans themselves. The second way, which occurs more often, is to have the licensed contractor performing the work obtain the permit.

The Solar Company requests all necessary permits and schedules all inspections, so the customer does not have to ever worry about personally dealing with their county building department. We take care of it all!

After the request documentation is submitted, the time required to review varies for residential and commercial. Commercial typically takes longer. For example, in the city of Fremont, the review time for residential is usually 5 business days while the review time for commercial is usually 15 business days.

The documentations required differ between jurisdictions. They may include, but are not limited to, the permit application, an owner-builder verification form, planning specifications that document size, site plan, roof plan, construction plan, elevation plan, equipment plan, electrical plan, and location plan for all materials and devices.

A building inspection performed by an engineer will be required after documentation submission is in order to make sure that the building and plan will support the project.

The following is the California Government Code 66014 which regulates reasonable charges:

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, when a local agency charges fees for zoning variances; zoning changes; use permits; building inspections; building permits; filing and processing applications and petitions filed with the local agency formation commission or conducting preliminary proceedings or proceedings under the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000, Division 3 (commencing with Section 56000) of Title 5; the processing of maps under the provisions of the Subdivision Map Act, Division 2 (commencing with Section 66410) of Title 7; or planning services under the authority of Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 65100) of Division 1 of Title 7 or under any other authority; those fees may not exceed the estimated reasonable cost of providing the service for which the fee is charged, unless a question regarding the amount of the fee charged in excess of the estimated reasonable cost of providing the services or materials is submitted to, and approved by, a popular vote of two-thirds of those electors voting on the issue.

(b) The fees charged pursuant to subdivision (a) may include the costs reasonably necessary to prepare and revise the plans and policies that a local agency is required to adopt before it can make any necessary findings and determinations.

(c) Any judicial action or proceeding to attack, review, set aside, void, or annul the ordinance, resolution, or motion authorizing the charge of a fee subject to this section shall be brought pursuant to Section 66022.

Once everything is approved and the green light is given, installation can be initiated. Scheduled inspections may also occur throughout the project and, especially, a final inspection to approve the installation. All installations must also be approved by the local utility company before the solar array can be activated.

And there you have it, folks. Permits are required.