The City of Novato's Building Division is part of the Community Development Department and is responsible for reviewing plans, issuing building permits and conducting field inspections.
Got Building Code or Inspection Questions?
We're here to help you! Contact a City of Novato Building Inspector
In person at the Development Permit Counter, 922 Machin Avenue,
between 2pm and 4pm, Monday - Thursday.
(No permits issued - see How to Get a Building Permit.)
Steve Fawcett, Senior Building Inspector, 415-899-8982
Ezra Morrison, Building Inspector II, 415-899-8937
Building Division Mission:
The Building Division is dedicated to providing the highest level of inspection and plan review services to every architect, engineer, developer, contractor, business and property owner that resides or works within our community. Fairness, equality and the highest standard of professional ethics are our goals in providing our services while enforcing state construction laws and local ordinances that protect our residents. The Building Division works closely with the Planning Division, Code Enforcement Division, Public Works Department, and the Novato Fire Protection District to help maintain a safe and livable community.
NEW! Business Counter
An online tool, powered by Open Counter, to help businesses navigate the City's permit process. Businesses will be able to look up zoning requirements, permits and fees. Just answer a few questions about your business to receive a customized report on the permits, licenses, and estimated fees required for your project.
Building Documents & Additional Resources
Fee ScheduleGuides, Forms, & Consumer Alerts >>
What work requires a permit?
Please review this document. Page One lists work that requires a permit. Page Two lists work that does not require a permit.
If this document doesn't make the answer clear, please contact the Building Division at 415-899-8989 for assistance, before proceeding with any construction. You may also come in to One Stop Shop to discuss your project in person.
One Stop Shop Hours:
Monday - Thursday
9am - 11am
Building, Planning and Code Enforcement
Do I need a building permit to build a fence?If you build a fence over six feet tall a building permit is required. An eight-foot tall fence, provided the top two feet are constructed of 50% open lattice or equivalent (i.e. chain link), is allowed on property lines at the rear and sides of most properties when not adjoining a street. Fences within the front yard are allowed up to three feet within 15 feet of the back of the sidewalk, or back of the curb, if there is no sidewalk, or the edge of the improved roadway if there is no sidewalk or curb; six feet elsewhere within the front setback. Please note that the requirements are different for corner parcels and that the sidewalk edge may not be the property line.
How long is my permit good for?A permit is good for a maximum of two years as long as you have periodic inspections within 180 days from date of issue and continuing for the life of the permit. If more than 180 days lapse between inspections, the permit automatically expires and the permit will need to be renewed before any more inspections can scheduled.
I just received a letter from the Building Division saying my permit is going to expire. What should I do?
The letter is a courtesy notice to remind you that your permit will expire because the 180 day time limit from the date of issuance, or date of your last inspection, is getting near. Permits remain valid if you receive inspection(s) within 180 days from date of issuance. Once you have an inspection, the 180 day time period is automatically extended from the date of the inspection up to a full two years from date of issuance. Follow the instructions on the letter to obtain an inspection, or request for an extension if you are not ready for an inspection.
Where do I go to get a Zoning Clearance or Home Occupation Permit?
The City’s zoning ordinance regulates land uses. Some businesses are not allowed in certain zones or may require a use permit. If you plan to operate a business in your home, a Home Occupation Permit is required before obtaining a business license.
Contact the Planning Division for more information:
City of Novato
922 Machin Avenue
Novato, CA 94945
Phone (415) 899-8989
Counter Planner Schedule:
Monday to Thursday: 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Where do I get information and apply for a business license?
To obtain a business license, you will be asked to complete an application form. If the business is located in Novato, you will also need a Zoning Clearance or Home Occupation Permit from the Department of Community Development. In addition, some businesses may need a permit from the Police Department.
Please review our brochure for all the details on how and when you can obtain a license.
I’m almost at my 180 day limit from my last inspection, but I am not quite ready for my next inspection. Can I get an extension so my permit does not expire?
You can write the Building Official to request a onetime extension. You need to provide your permit number, name, address and phone number plus the reason for the extension request. If you send your request by email (email addresses on Building Division’s Home Page) then you will receive an approval or denial of your request.
If you send your request by US Mail you will not receive a confirmation that the request was approved. Only those requests that cannot be approved will receive a reply.