Everything to Know About Grading & Drainage Permit in San Jose

The City of San Jose requires a grading permit for all property improvements that alter the natural surface of the ground. These include building a new home, installing hardscaping or paving over your yard, installing an underground tank or septic system, excavating to create an inground pool, adding any type of retaining wall to your property, landscaping with rocks larger than four inches in diameter, and other similar activities on your lot that will affect the natural grade of the land.

What is a Grading permit?

A grading permit is a document that certifies that an applicant has obtained permission from appropriate regulatory agencies for certain construction activities, such as excavation or earthmoving. The grading and drainage permit is a requirement to make sure that the land you are developing is graded properly for stormwater management and erosion control, as well as for ensuring that it doesn’t cause problems to the adjacent properties. It also ensures all the necessary guidelines and regulations are in place, thus helping avoid penalties.

Grading permit applications are required when undertaking certain kinds of large-scale projects, including any type of construction, digging, mining, uplifting, or shifting of earth or rock on your property. Projects involving excavation, stormwater, sand, and gravel work also require permits, so you will need to contact your local stormwater district to know what documents to get in place.

How to get a grading permit in San Jose?

Grading and drainage permits in San Jose are regulated by the Development Services Section of the Department of Public Works for San Jose, with requirements being set forth by the California Building Code.

As such, any project that involves excavation or grading will require shoring approval. Before you apply for a grading and drainage permit, check your eligibility for any additional permits or documentation to ensure that your application is valid:

  • The Grading Permit is inclusive of the shoring review by the Public Works Structural Section if the work being undertaken does not result in invading the public right-of-way.
  • Suppose the project encroaches into the public right-of-way by way of tiebacks. In that case, you will need a Revocable Encroachment Permit approved by both the Building Division and the Public Works Department. This additional permit will be simultaneously processed with the grading permit.
  • If the tiebacks invade private property, then all the required documents, including insurance, need to be submitted to the Public Works Project Engineer before applying for a grading permit. This official is going to be your single point of contact for all permissions for a specific project.

Once you have assessed and arranged the need for other permits and documentation, you can schedule an appointment for the shoring review and plan submission. You need the following documents for the shoring review:

  • A filled application form with complete details about whether or not a shoring review is required, along with details of the application of Revocable Encroachment Permit.
  • A shoring plan that is compliant with the requirements for preparation of plans & specifications (this should be supported with evidential documents in case of variation). This step will require:
    • Three (3) sets of plans (24”x36”)
    • Two (2) sets of the soils report
    • Two (2) sets of structural calculations
    • One copy of design references as needed by the reviewer
    • Plans to show all adjacent buildings and underground utility lines.

Depending on the project, you may also be required to obtain additional permits and ensure compliance with standard field operations instructions. An approved erosion control plan will be needed for ensuring that there are no issues with local water bodies and storm drainage systems resulting from grading work during the winter (from October 1st to April 30th).

Does one incur a cost in getting a shoring and grading permit?

The costs involved in getting a grading and drainage permit will vary based on the project. Initially, you will have to pay fees at the submittal stage for all the permits you are applying for, apart from the city fees that you will need to pay the public works staff during the review. Additionally, in case of encroachment of public right-of-way, you will need to submit a security deposit of $100,000 in the form of a Certificate of Deposit or Letter of Credit.

Properties need to be graded well to avoid any erosion problems that may result in landslides, flooding, and other similar issues. The consequential matters arising from improper grading may not be limited to a single property but also include the properties and areas around it.All the specifications and the preparation of the documents required for the applications can be overwhelming. Design Everest’s highly experienced team is adept with California’s building codes and the nitty-gritty of what goes into the creation of an error-free application, complete with all the necessary paperwork. Hiring experts like us can help you expedite your application process.

Design Everest has been helping clients with permits and other construction work for over 14 years now. If you are looking for expert guidance to optimize your time and resources through speedy and compliant work, you can hire Design Everest for your permit needs. Our teams are equipped with decades of knowledge in the domain and are up to date with the continuous changes in the industry and the regulation.

Get in touch with our team for a consultation and a free quote for your construction and permit requirements.

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