Planning and Building: Building Inspection (3842P)

Program Outcome Statement

Protect public health and safety by enforcing building codes and abating code violations and unsafe structures

Program Services

  • Issues building permits
  • Reviews applications and construction drawings
  • Inspects and monitors construction activity
  • Enforces the building codes and updates County building codes
  • Informs and assists the public and other County departments regarding permit procedures and regulations


The Building Inspection Program protects the health and safety of County residents and their property by ensuring that permitted construction within the unincorporated areas of San Mateo County meets current building code standards.
Building Inspection staff worked with the Information Services Department to complete the Planning and Building Department's permit tracking system and upgrade in FY 2013-15. The new permit tracking system, Accela Automation, features enhanced property owner and applicant access and improved permit management and workflows. The Department is working to get the Electronic Document Review (EDR), a key component of the system upgrade, to be up and running sometime in FY 2017-18. When fully implemented, EDR will allow applicants to submit plans and documents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Building Inspection is also testing the mobile capability of the Accela permit tracking system, in order to allow field-based staff to access and update information efficiently.

Number of Building Permits Finalized Increasing

Percent of Major-Type Building Permits Issued within 365 Days Remains Stable

Insurance Services Office Rating Remains Stable

FY 2016-17 Year End Story Behind Performance

Number of Building Permits Finalized

In FY 2016-17, the number of building permits showed a modest increase of 2.2 percent, with a total of 2,508 permits finalized compared to 2,453 in FY 2015-16. While this is still a consistent positive trend, the increase is lower than the 21 percent realized in FY 2015-16. The Department will continue to closely monitor this trend to be able to respond effectively to shifts in workload if necessary.

Percent of Major-Type Building Permits Issued within 365 Days

The average amount of time to issue new construction and major renovation building permits (any permit exceeding 50 percent of the value of an existing building as determined by the Building Official) remains stable. This time frame represents the necessary time for all departments, agencies, and the applicant to submit and respond to code and regulation comments prior to finalizing a permit. The Department met its target of 90 percent of major-type projects receiving building permits within the 365-day time frame.

Insurance Services Office Rating

The Insurance Services Office (ISO) is an independent statistical, rating, and advisory organization that services the property and casualty insurance industry. ISO collections information on a community's building code adoption and enforcement services, analyzes the data, and then assigns a Building Code Effectiveness Classification from 1 to 10. Class 1 represents exemplary commitment to building code enforcement. The Department received a score rating of Class 2, which is well above average relative to other jurisdictions regionally and statewide.

Future Priorities

  • Increase online permitting opportunities to reduce customer wait times
  • Continue improvements to Electronic Document Review, saving paper and reducing storage space for building plan
  • Increase inter-departmental collaboration and expeditious permitting process on sustainability, capital, and infrastructure projects
Author: Miles Hancock, Building Official     Contact Email:     Date Updated: 09-08-2017