Converting Residence Occupancies

Conversions of occupancies are regulated under 2010 California Building Code (CBC). The intent is that when a building is allowed to be used for an occupancy which imposes more restrictive requirements than those required for the immediate prior occupancy, that the public and adjacent property owners be given the same protection they would enjoy from new construction.

Existing residential buildings are not affected by these requirements unless the use or occupancy type of the building is to be changed. However, the fact that a residential building happens to be on property zoned by the Planning Commission for a higher type use does not imply that the building meets or can easily be converted to other than residential use.


In order to make a conversion, in addition to requirements of other City Departments, Building Division requirements prior to issuing a permit are as follows:
  • Plans must be prepared and signed by a duly licensed Architect or Engineer for the following:
    • Any required structural rehabilitation or changes.
    • Elevations
    • Floor Plan showing size and use of all areas
    • Foundation and floor framing plan
    • Other plans if needed for clarification of the project
    • Plans for conformance to CBC Chapter 11B and ADA regulations
    • Site Plan showing landscaping, drainage, parking, building location, etc.
  • Deficiencies which must be corrected before conversion can be allowed are commonly found in the following areas:
    • Access for the Handicapped
    • Concrete Foundation
    • Conventional construction provisions
    • Exiting
    • Fire Resistive Construction (due to proximity to property line)  
    • Floor Loading Capacity
    • Site Drainage and Parking
    • Stairs, Corridors, Ramps
    • Underfloor Clearances
    • Wall Bracing

Special Requirements

Occupancies other than one or two family residences normally have greater property lines set back requirements and need to be designed for increased floor loads. You may have to make exterior and structural modifications as part of the change in occupancy/conversion permit.