Tenant improvements cover a wide range of non-residential projects, for example a small café remodel to a 50,000-square-foot factory build-out. While the scale, scope and complexity of tenant improvements vary, fundamental elements of the permitting process are essentially the same. Highlighted for convenience are five steps methodically designed to keep a project moving forward, and depending on complexity more than one step can occur concurrently.
STEP 1: PRELIMINARY REVIEW (3 parts)
Before preparing plans for a tenant improvement, it is necessary to discuss the project with City of Hayward staff to confirm that the proposal is allowed; e.g., whether or not a particular type of business is allowed by zoning. All staff is available at our One Stop Permit Center on the first floor of City Hall. It is good to bring in as much information as possible to these meetings including: basic drawings of the building, address, current use of the property, etc. It is also highly beneficial if the architect for the project attends these first informal meetings.
Meet with a City of Hayward Planner. Planning staff will determine if the proposed project will meet Zoning Ordinance requirements and/or if a use permit is required. Making this determination early on will minimize permit processing time.
Meet with staff from the Fire Prevention Office. Fire Department staff will notify you of any initial concerns. These may include: fire truck access, firefighter access, sprinklers and alarms. Staff may require a separate Code Assistance Meeting if the scope of work involves hazardous materials or is highly complex.
Meet with a Building Division Permit Technician. Building Division staff will go over basic requirements for the submittal and give you a rough estimate of the fees for the project. The Permit Technician will put you in touch with a Plan Checker for specific code questions.
STEP 2: ESTABLISH THE DESIGN TEAM Tenant improvement projects require a professionally prepared set of plans that fully document both the condition of the existing space and the proposed changes. Due to the fact that tenant improvements involve State of California mandated disabled access upgrades, compliance with multiple codes and often structural calculations, the City of Hayward requires that the plans are prepared by an architect or engineer licensed in California.
STEP 3: DETERMINE MAJOR COST IMPACTS
Certain changes to existing buildings can have major cost impacts due to building code requirements and local ordinances. In addition to the basic permit fees and taxes that our Permit Technicians can help you calculate, it is important to understand design related costs early in the process.
STEP 4: PREPARE THE DRAWINGS
A complete and accurate set of plans is required in order to obtain a building permit. Projects with high quality plans are more likely to be approved quickly. Projects with poorly prepared plans will result in multiple correction lists and this will delay the start of construction.
Two aspects of building design that cause the most correction lists and delays are Disabled Access (ADA) and T-24 Energy Codes. Reason being is the oversights are seen as non-central aspects to a project and therefore receive less consideration. If the goal is to reduce project stalls, Development Services Department staff recommends project scope factor these two appropriately.
STEP 5: SUBMIT THE PLANS FOR REVIEW
Once the drawings are complete, the plans must be submitted to the Permit Center for review. Most projects will have 2 or 3 review cycles. Upon review of the plans, the City will return correction lists with comments from all departments. The applicant must re-submit the plans until all reviewers have approved the plans.