Development Services
Residential

Office & Location

Development Services Department Map

Cliff Morton Development and Business Services Center
1901 South Alamo Street
San Antonio, TX 78204

Phone:
210.207.1111

Hours:
7:45 am - 4:30 pm (Mon - Fri)
Closed on City Holidays

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How To Build or repair a home in San Antonio

Our department guides the residential development of new single-family homes, remodels, additions and other construction projects. We ensure that construction projects adhere to the City’s adopted Building Codes and the Unified Development Code to enhance the health and safety for you, your family and our community.

In San Antonio most construction projects require a licensed contractor who is registered with the City of San Antonio and has the proper permitting to build. The diagram below lists the various stages a typical residential building project goes through. Understanding what is involved during each stage will help ensure key steps and approvals are adhered to so that your project is completed in a timely fashion.

To keep the project moving forward, we also offer online services for contractors and homeowners. Online Services allows you to get key construction information remotely such as permit status or finding a licensed contractor, among others.

Note:
We have a few construction and improvement exceptions that typically do not require permitting. Please see the No Permit Required List.


 

The property you are proposing to build upon must be platted and zoned for residential use.  Since the City has a variety of zoning districts, the first step is to verify that the zoning of your land allows for residential use.  For more information please see the Examples of Permitted Uses in Zoning Districts or refer to the UDC (Chapter 35 Article III, Sec 35-310.01, Tables 311-1/311-1a).

Please be aware that for each zoning district, your project will need to comply with the required building setbacks: the minimum distance from the property lines that a structure must be located.  For more detailed information regarding these requirements please refer to the UDC Chapter 35, Article III.

If you have a question about your zoning designation, contact Development Services’ Call Center at 210.207.1111. 

If you are unsure if your property is platted correctly, contact the Land Development Division at 210.207.0121.

For information regarding a zoning verification letter as well as the application, please go to Zoning Verification Letters.

To check your property's zoning, use the City’s One Stop Zoning Map

Basic OneStop Zoning Map Directions:

  1. Click & Accept Terms
  2. Use top menu to navigate the map.
    One-Stop Map Menu
  3. Example: If you want to move the map left to right, push on the One-Stop Map icon
  4. If you know the property address, choose the One-Stop Mailbox Icon icon and enter the property address. If you do not know the address, zoom in to the general location or street intersection.
  5. After locating, check the zoning district on or near the parcel.
  6. Zoning Code Information: Push the One Stop Info . A box on the right hand side will pop up. At the bottom of the box, choose Zoning for a complete description of all codes.
  7. Explore the map. It has some great features for you.

We also have a complete Zoning Map User Guide. Please look for this in the resource section below.

IMPORTANT:

The City of San Antonio, in cooperation with neighborhood and community organizations, has established certain districts in an effort to preserve and recognize special and unique neighborhoods and corridors.

Overlays

The City has a variety of Neighborhood ConservationCorridor Districts and other overlay districts that could affect your design and these requirements are reviewed along with your permit application.  If you have any questions regarding these requirements, contact a Zoning Planner at 210.207.8208 or 210.207.7395.

Historic Overlays

If the zoning map shows your property in a Historic District, Local Landmark, River Improvement Overlay (RIO) District, or Viewshed Protection,  you must first receive authorization for your project through the Office of Historic Preservation. To reach their offices, or if you have any questions regarding Historic Overlays, call 210.215.9274.

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Once you have verified what the zoning district allows for and your property is platted, you can proceed with a building permit application. Development Services is responsible for issuing residential building permits for property located within the City limits. We have designed our website so that you may easily find the forms and applications you will need depending upon whether you are a homeowner or contractor. Please select from the tabs provided above for more specific information and required permits for each category.

Typically a building permit is required if you decide to build, remodel, repair or demolish a structure on your property. We have a few exceptions for some general repairs. Our No Permit Required List identifies the types of projects that would not require a permit.

We conveniently issue general repair and small remodel permits over-the-counter at our One Stop at 1901 S. Alamo Street. New homes, room additions over 1000 sq. ft., and any 2-story addition (regardless of the size) require a review by our Plans Examiners. This review typically takes three business days. Please note, your project may require multiple permits such as building, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing based upon the scope of your project. For example, if you are building a deck with a ceiling fan and sink, you will need the following permits: building, electrical, and plumbing.

To discover what permit types you may need, select a sub tab from above that is most applicable to your situation:

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If you own your residence, you can apply for specific permits to perform work in your home or you can also obtain other property use permits. While as a homeowner you can perform many types of non-structural work, for your safety you must use licensed trade contractors for new electrical, plumbing and/or HVAC project components. A homeowner can only apply for a plumbing permit for an existing residence provided that it is their homestead and they will personally be doing the work.  (Refer to Plumbing Homeowner Affidavit).  For a list of projects you can obtain permits for yourself, review the homeowner section below.

Before Starting the Application

Before you start working on your permit application for your proposed home project, please read the questions below and answer Yes or No, and we will guide you to the appropriate permit application.

  • Are you building a new residential home?
  • Are you adding MORE than 1000 sq. ft. to your home?
  • Are you adding a second story?
  • Are you re-roofing your home?
  • Are you installing a new fence?
  • Are you installing a manufactured home?

If you answered NO to all the questions above, use our Homebase Online Tool. This Tool helps customers complete the General Repair Application for smaller projects.

If you answered YES to any of the above questions, you, as the homeowner, can apply for the permits listed below.  

Type of Application Site Plan Building Plans Proof of Ownership Permit Issued Over the Counter Full Plan Review Required
IB 101 - Residential Packet(Homestead Only)  
General Repairs (Room Addition, Accessory Structures, Decks, Carports, Patio Covers, Porch Covers, Fence)
Swimming Pools          
Minor Repairs (Windows, Doors, Walls, Siding and Floors)      •   
Re-Roof (no change of pitch)
Re-Roof (change of pitch)
Foundation Repairs
Demolition
Plumbing (only for an existing Homestead)
Manufactured Home Installation – Mobile Home Park
Manufactured Home Installation – Private Lot

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Home Improvement Contractors (Non-Structural) who are registered with the City may obtain certain permits on behalf of the homeowner. The following chart summarizes the permits that a Home Improvement Contractor can obtain and the required submittal documents.

Type of Application Site Plan Permit Issued Over the Counter
Accessory Structure under 400 sq. ft.
Swimming Pools
General Repairs
Re-roof (no change in pitch)
Fence
Foundation Repairs (must have insurance)

Some general repairs do not require a permit. Our No Permit Required List identifies the types of projects.

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Residential Building Contractors (Structural) registered with the City can obtain all residential building permits on behalf of the homeowner. Please refer to Information Bulletin 101 and the Review & Permitting section for requirements.

Type of Application Site Plan Building Plans Permit Issued Over the Counter Full Plan Review Required
New Residential
Foundation Repairs
Accessory Structure greater than 400 sq. ft.
Any 2nd Story Addition
Swimming Pools
General Repairs
Re-roof (with change in pitch)
Fence

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To build new residential structures, room additions over 1000 square feet, or to add a second floor to your home in the City of San Antonio, you will need to apply for a residential building permit. The documents that you will need to submit to us are:

  • All items listed in Information Bulletin 101 - Residential Checklist and Applications
  • A site plan (showing entire lot, existing structures on the lot, proposed construction, and distances to all property lines),
  • An Energy Report,
  • And 2 construction drawings. The construction drawings typically must include (a) floor plans, (b) wall section, (c) and items listed in the Residential Building Application. Please note your foundation plan must be prepared by a licensed engineer.

After the City receives all the above-listed documents and you pay the plan review fees, Development Services will route your plans to the appropriate plans examiners for review. Our initial review of your building plans typically takes three business days. Based upon the location of your property, the following reviews will be assigned:

Review City Department Notes
  • Building
  • Zoning
  • Tree Preservation
Development Services Standard reviews assigned to residential construction projects
Neighborhood Conservation District (NCD), Corridor Overlay District and other design zoning district Development Services Review added only if property is subject to a design zoning district or overlay
Storm Water/Flood Transportation & Capital Improvements Review added only if property is in the flood plain
Historic Office of Historic Preservation Review added only if property is in a historic area

Development Services’ Plans Examiners will review your building plans for items such as the location of the structure, tree preservation, floor plan, framing, window, door locations, roof structure, and verify that foundation plans were sealed by an engineer licensed by the state of Texas. Typically, new residential construction requires the planting of two new trees to meet the City Tree Canopy for normal size City lots (See Tree PreservationSection).

To get your project started quicker, we want to tell you about two options:

  1. After-hour plan review is available on a first-come, first-serve basis for initial submittals based upon the availability of staff and current workloads. An additional fee will only be assessed if staff is available to review your plans outside of our normal work schedule and can be requested on the Residential Permit Application.
  2. Once you have obtained an approval on your tree preservation review, the licensed plumbing contractor can obtain a plumbing permit to get your construction started before your building plans are approved and the City issues your building permit.

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If the plans examiner finds that your construction drawings do not meet the minimum code requirements, you will be required to correct your drawings. As always, our goal is to help you. We developed IB 111 Procedure for Submitting Responses to Plans Review Denial Comments to guide you in re-submitting your drawings. In addition, you can call your plans examiner and ask questions regarding the items that need to be corrected and how to re-submit your building plans.

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Once all the required reviews are approved, the City will stamp your building plans as approved and issue your permit. After you pay your permit fees, you will be able to pick up your approved plans. You are now ready to start constructing your project.  Your approved plans will need to be at the job site and available to the City’s inspectors.

An approval or permit issuance does not guarantee a passing inspection. While our department works to ensure all plans are following code requirements, it is ultimately up to the licensed trades to ensure that they are building to the current code. Please note that based on the scope of your project additional permits may be required for other work including but not limited to, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, etc.

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When a water heater or an air conditioner need to be replaced, instead of waiting to get a permit before performing the work, a licensed contractor can apply online for a Limited Service Repair (LSR) permit. This allows a licensed contractor to make your repairs immediately and file for the formal permit using the LSR process within three business days after the work is completed.

The licensed contractor simply selects the correct permit type, completes the form, pays a small fee, and we take care of the rest. Our department will send the property owner a letter indicating that the permit was issued, and an inspection by the owner can be requested within 30 days or waived.

This provides customers with industry professionalism and additional reassurance that they hired a contractor who is performing work that follows health and safety codes.

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For your safety, the International Residential Code requires that every permit application expire after 180 days if not being actively pursued. In addition, an issued building permit will expire after 180 days if no proof of construction or work progress has been shown.

In order to help facilitate your project, our department may grant one or more 180-day extensions when you can provide a valid, justifiable reason for the permit application or issued permit suspension or abandonment.  You can request a permit extension using the form found in the Forms and Applications Section below.

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If you are the permit holder and you no longer need your permit, Development Services will cancel the permit and you may be entitled to a refund if you meet the following criteria.

Trade Permits (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Flatwork, and Signs)

  • The permit was issued within 30 days.
  • No inspections were performed.

Building Permits

  • The permit was issued within 90 days.
  • No work was performed on the permit (plan reviews or inspections).

If you no longer need your permit but the City performed a plan review or an inspection, you can request that your permit be canceled without a refund.

When requesting a refund, you must complete a Request for Refund form found in the Forms & Applications below.

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Building inspections are performed at each stage in the building process to ensure the health and safety of our community. But more than that, we work hand-in-hand with licensed contractors to ensure the final project was built to the City’s adopted codes. This provides an extra layer of protection for all licensed contractors and their customers.

Department inspectors are either licensed in the trade itself or have achieved the required International Code Council Certification. Most inspections performed are related to building permits; however, our department also oversees alleged violation reports.

Since all permitting fees include the cost of our certified inspector services, it’s a simple process for the permit holder to schedule the inspection. You have a couple of options to choose from below (if you are using our online system or Inspection Scheduler for the first time, you will need to set up an account):

  • Schedule the inspection anytime online
  • Inspection Scheduler (mobile friendly)
  • Call 210.207.1111. This option does have a $3.00 per inspection scheduling fee

To assist you with understanding the inspections that may be required for your project, we have provided a guide on the different stages of inspections and what is involved with each.  Please refer to the What's Next - Inspection Handout.

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Once you have been issued your permits, you will need to ensure inspections are done at the right time during your construction project. While our department performs a majority of the required inspections, we require 3rd party inspections for foundations, duct testing, insulation shower and liner installation. All 3rd party inspections require the filing of 3rd party certification letters, which can be found in the Forms and Applications Section below.

We recommend that you print or save the Inspection Planning Diagram and reference the CPS Energy Checklist (found in the Resources below) to use as a guide while going through the inspection process. 

Planning Your Inspections

View the Planning Your Inspections Diagram and the Residential Inspection Guide for more information.

NOTE: The above diagram and/or guide is not all-inclusive as there may be other requirements needed for your project.

 

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There are times when work performed does not pass inspection or the inspector did not have access to your home. If this occurs you must fix the issue and set up a re-inspection. One inspection is covered for each permit.  As such, a fee will be assessed for each re-inspection.

If you disagree with the inspection outcome you may contact the Inspector’s Supervisor. If you do not agree with our decision, then you can start the formal process and appeal the decision to the Building-Related & Fire Code Board of Appeals and Advisory Board. Appeals of the Board’s decision can be made to City Council. For more information please see the Code Options section.

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We encourage all licensed contractors and their employees to report unlicensed contractors or trade personnel. Operating without a license or without the proper permitting reduces the professionalism of the industry and the safety of our community.

The Development Services Department call center will accept reports of certain violations. All calls are confidential and can be made anonymously. Please call 210.207.1111 to report any of the following violations.

  • Working without a license
  • Working without a permit
  • No Certificate of Occupancy

Zoning violations can be reported by calling the City of San Antonio’s 311 Call Center or using the City’s online reporting tool.

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The Development Services' Inspections Section has created geographic boundaries to define the service areas for each Inspection Team.The links below provide maps of the districts by discipline and inspector, along with pertinent contact information.

Maps

Once you receive final approval on your inspections, Development Services will contact CPS Energy and let them know your property is safe for CPS Energy to turn on utility services. The homeowner’s next step is to contact CPS Energy and arrange for utility services such as gas and electricity.

For property owners who want to re-establish utility services, CPS Energy may require that the City perform an inspection to ensure the residence meets City safety standards. You must apply for a reconnect permit in person at the One Stop.

If you are an electrical contractor registered with the City, you can obtain temporary use of utilities using the following programs:

Temporary Meter Loop Permit (TML)
This permit allows you to install an electrical panel and obtain a temporary meter to be used for construction power.

Temporary on Permanent Set Electrical Permit (TOPS)
If you require temporary electrical service for the structure prior to receiving final approval on all inspections, you can apply for a TOPS permit. To guide you through our permitting process, we have two Information Bulletins that explain the City’s requirements to obtain your TOPS permit.

  • New Construction: please see IB 104a Temporary on Permanent Set Electrical Permit
  • Existing Structure: please see IB 104b Temporary on Permanent Set

Tip: The electrical contractor should ensure the TML and TOPS permits are linked to the main building permit.

If you have any questions regarding how the City gives CPS Energy permission to turn on your utility services, call 210.207.1111 and our Call Center Staff will be able to assist you.

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