Windows/Siding/Roof Repair & Replacement
Building Permits are required for replacing or adding new windows, siding, or doors and for roof repair or replacement. The majority of all Building Permits Applications for replacing windows, siding, doors, or roofs are approvable over-the-counter (OTC), and in some cases you'll need to submit construction plans and/or drawings along with your Building Permit Application (see Applying for My Permit below).
If your building has been rated as historically significant or is 50 years old or greater then there may be additional materials and processes involved in order to determine if the proposed work is appropriate (see Understanding What's Allowed below).
Read the FAQ.
If you are repairing or replacing a roof and your project includes increasing the profile, volume, or height of the existing roof, your project may require Neighborhood Notification and several accompanying steps (see Understanding What's Allowed below).
It is recommended to visit or call Planning staff at the Planning Information Center (PIC) early in the planning of your project. The PIC is at 1660 Mission Street, 1st floor and may also be reached by phone at (415) 558-6377 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also recommend you contact the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) to confirm their requirements before submitting your Building Permit Application. They can be reached at (415) 558-6088, or at 1660 Mission Street 1st floor Public Information Counter.
Understanding What's Allowed
Your Building Permit Application for windows, siding, doors and roofs will be reviewed under provisions in the San Francisco Planning Code, other City Codes, the San Francisco General Plan, and Department policies based on a number of criteria (e.g. the historical significance of your property, the environmental impact of your project, or other regulations).
Here are the most common regulations you will need to consider:
Increasing the profile, volume, or height of your roof
If you are increasing the profile, volume, or height of your roof you will need to complete the Neighborhood Notification Process, a process where the Planning Department mails a notice alerting neighbors and neighborhood groups in the vicinity of your proposed project and they are given a period of 30 days to respond with concerns or to request a Discretionary Review (DR). Depending on the scope of your project, you may also need to provide a "Pre-Application Notice" to nearby neighbors, and/or you may need to hold a "Pre-Application Meeting." The triggers for the Pre-Application Process are explained in the Pre-Application Information Packet.
If your project involves alteration to structure that has been identified (through a Historic Resources Survey or other means) as a historic resource or if the structure is 50 years old or greater then there will most likely be additional materials and process involved in order to determine if the proposed work is appropriate. See our Historic Preservation section to read more about evaluating historic character and the additional procedures that might be required if a historic structure is impacted. Preservation Technical Specialists (planners with specialized training in evaluating impacts on historic resources) at the Planning Information Center (PIC) can help you understand what's allowed on your building. There are regularly scheduled hours where Preservation Technical Specialists are available to help you at the PIC, click here for more info.
Compliance with Residential Design Guidelines
The San Francisco Planning Department Residential Design Guidelines address issues such as size, features, and material of windows, siding, doors, and roofs. Architectural details are used to establish and define a building's character and to visually unify a neighborhood. In order for a building to be harmonious with surrounding buildings, the choice of architectural details is very important.
In addition to what's mentioned in the Residential Design Guidelines, the Planning Department's Guidelines for Applying for a Window Replacement Permit specifically addresses the process, materials, size, and functionality of replacement windows.
Siding materials should complement the architectural style of the subject building and be compatible with surrounding buildings. Quality siding materials are strongly encouraged on all visible facades as they are more durable.
Building entrances are an important building feature. The type, placement, and size of entrances should be compatible with the building and the surrounding neighborhood and designed to be an integral part of the building's architecture. The Residential Design Guidelines provide detailed description of what to consider when replacing doors.
Garage entrances and doors
Garage entrances and doors are an important building feature. The type, placement, and size of entrances should be compatible with the building and the surrounding neighborhood and designed to be an integral part of the building's architecture. The Residential Design Guidelines provide detailed description of what to consider when replacing them. When proposing to cut a new garage door on a façade of a building please consult the Guidelines for Adding Garages and Curb Cuts (includes info for doing this on structures that have been rated as historic resources).
Roof repair or replacement
Roofing materials should be compatible with those used on surrounding buildings and should be appropriate for the architectural style of the building. (Again, see the Residential Design Guidelines.)
Applying for Your Permit & Paying Fees
The following information must be submitted when applying for a Building Permit to replace or add new windows, siding, or doors and for roof repair or replacement:
- Construction plans and/or drawings (required only if a new or enlarged window or door opening is proposed as part of the permit; not required for replacing windows, siding, or doors in the same location and of the same size or for roof repair or replacement.) See our Plan Submittal Guidelines.
- Neighborhood Notification materials (if required).
Since every project is unique, we have a useful matrix handout, the Permit Application Checklist which explains submittal requirements based on the proposed work as described under "How to Use This Matrix." A checklist of required materials to be submitted with the Building Permit is also included in the Building Permit Application Packet which also describes the Neighborhood Notification process.
To submit a permit, prepare the Building Permit Application and bring it along with all necessary plans and materials as described in the Permit Application Checklist and/or Building Application Packet to the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) at 1660 Mission Street. If you are a new user, we recommend you come to the Planning Information Center (PIC) also at 1660 Mission Street before proceeding to DBI.
Permit fees are based on the construction cost of your project. To estimate permit fees, the Planning Department's fee schedule is available online. We also have a fee calculator for Building Permits reviewed by the Planning Department. If you have any questions, please stop by or call the Planning Information Center (PIC) staff at (415) 558-6377. Depending on your location and project type, impact fees may be required for new construction. Contact the PIC to see if these requirements apply to your property. Please note this is for the Planning Department's review fees only. Fees for review by the Building Department are available here. You may also call DBI at 558-6088.
Don't forget: Should the cost of staff time exceed the initial fee you paid, it is possible an additional fee for time and materials may be billed upon completion of the permit review process. Additional fees may also be collected for preparation and recordation of any documents with the San Francisco Assessor-Recorder’s office and for monitoring compliance with any conditions of approval.
Permit Review Process
If you have already visited the Planning Information Center (PIC) at 1660 Mission Street and you are confident you have all the correct materials for your Building Permit Application, your next step is to submit your application materials & fees listed in Applying for My Permit & Paying Fees to the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) at 1660 Mission Street.
After initial screening of your application by DBI, the Planning Department will review the application to confirm it is complete for Planning Department requirements. If information is missing, or if corrections are needed, you will be asked to return with that information. If Neighborhood Notification is not required, planners at the Planning Information Center (PIC) will review the application to determine if it complies with the San Francisco Planning Code (view the code online) and is consistent with our Residential Design Guidelines and the additional regulations detailed above in Understanding What's Allowed. If so, it may be approved over-the-counter. If Neighborhood Notification is required, the application will be taken in and routed to an assigned planner at the Planning Department.
3. Plan Review
Similar to Screening in Step 2, when the Planning Department reviews your application, an assigned planner will determine if the application complies with the San Francisco Planning Code (view the code online) and is consistent with our Residential Design Guidelines and the additional regulations detailed above in Understanding What's Allowed. In addition, according to Planning Code Sections 311/312 Neighborhood Notification procedures, prior to filing any Entitlement Application (this includes but is not limited to Building Permits, Variances, and Conditional Use Authorizations) the project sponsor must conduct a minimum of one Pre-Application Meeting if the proposed scope of work triggers such a meeting. The triggers for the Pre-Application Process are explained in the Pre-Application Information Packet. Once the planner determines that your project is approvable, he or she will initiate the Neighborhood Notification process.
Neighborhood Notification entails mailing an announcement of your project to neighbors and neighborhood groups so that they, or any person, may voice concerns they have over the proposal or so that they may request a Discretionary Review (a hearing seeking denial of the project or changes to the proposal before the San Francisco Planning Commission). The permit is held by Planning for a 30-day period from the date of mailed notification to allow adequate time for public review of the proposal. During the notification period, any person may ask the San Francisco Planning Commission to exercise its power of Discretionary Review over the Building Permit Application.
You will meet with review staff from different departments as directed by DBI, who will check your construction documents to verify the proposed construction will meet the various City Municipal Codes (view all codes online). Staff from the following departments will check a typical Building Permit for new building construction in a residential district (with or without demolition):
- Department of Building Inspection (DBI)
- Department of Public Works (DPW)/Bureau of Streets Management (BSM) (if use of streetspace/sidewalk is needed)
- San Francisco Fire Department
Other agencies may be involved depending on the scope of your project.
When all the reviews are complete, the permit will be issued, and you can begin work. Note, there is a 15-day period after Building Permit issuance in which any party may appeal the permit to the Board of Appeals.
Inspections of permitted work is the responsibility of the Department of Building Inspection. DBI's Inspection Services page explains their inspection function.