No, you do not have to hire a contractor. Many homeowners do their own minor residential upgrades.
However, if you do, please make sure your contractor has a City of Cupertino business license in addition to a State Contractor’s license. A final inspection cannot be scheduled until your contractor and all the sub-contractors used for your project have obtained a business license from the City.
The following examples of work may not require a soil Investigation report:
- Residential Additions/Remodels: One-story additions 750 s.f. or less on level, undisturbed grade to an existing single family dwelling or a second-story additions 750 s.f. or less to an existing single family dwelling with engineering design, and non-structural remodels.
- Detached Residential Accessory Structures: Detached residential accessory structures, such as garages, carports, recreation rooms, storerooms, workshops, stables, barns, playhouses, patio structures, gazebos, trellis, equipment sheds, animal enclosures and similar structures not exceeding 750 square feet in area.
- Non-Habitable Accessory Structures: Miscellaneous structures such as free standing fences not exceeding 8 feet in height, decks no greater than 4 feet above grade at any point, retaining walls which retain no more than 5 feet level surcharge, photovoltaic systems, barbeques and other similar structures.
For additional information, you can download our Modification Requests for Foundation and Soils Investigations form.
- Please see the Comparison Matrix for New vs Existing Construction to determine whether your project qualifies as a remodel or a rebuild, which will indicate whether fire sprinklers are required or not.
The City of Cupertino is currently working on a new Online Portal which will be launched in 2018. In the meantime, to apply for a building permit, schedule building inspections and ask any questions related to Building, please call 408.777.3228.
In R1 zoning districts, interior building area above 16 feet from the finished floor to the top of the rafters is counted twice toward Floor Area.
For instance, if a single story home has an 18 foot tall entry way, the area of the floor of the entry way and the area of the entry way at 16 foot height are both counted, as though there is a second story at 16 feet. This would all apply to the floor area of the home.
In a two story home, the first floor portion of the high volume area would apply toward the first floor Floor Area and the area where the second story would intersect would apply to the second floor Floor Area.
Common examples where Floor Area is counted twice include:
- Entry ways;
- High Volume living rooms;
- Staircases; and
For permits information, please visit either of the following webpages.
Research online public records.
To browse building permits, navigate to Public Records > Building Department > Building Permits, then select the folder with the correct street name, and then select the street address number.
To search building permits, select Template search, select the building template, and search by the fields in the template.
Explore a map of Cupertino showing the location, status and details of Building and Planning Permits. Set up notifications for new permits in specific areas.
To review plans and supporting documents, you will need to complete and submit a Request for Research form. The City of Cupertino will complete the research within (10) business days from the date of the submitted request.
The Apple Park project is no different than any other construction project built in Cupertino when it comes to the review and approval of construction drawings stamped and signed by licensed professionals. Plans developed for each building are submitted to the City for review to verify compliance with all local and State adopted codes and regulations. These codes standards consist of Building and Fire Life Safety, Structural, Plumbing, Mechanical, Electrical, Accessibility, and Energy regulations.
Plans are also routed to the Planning and Public Works departments for review and approval to comply with requirements of these respective departments. Other departments and districts, such as the Fire Department, Health Department, Cupertino
Sanitary District, Santa Clara and Cupertino Unified School Districts, Fremont Union High School District, Water District, Valley Transportation Authority, and PG&E were all collectively part of the development review process and ensure the codes and standards for each stakeholder have been met.
Requests for building, fire, and Public Works inspections are dispatched and performed daily to verify the field conditions are consistent with the approved plans.
Apple has a robust transportation demand program with a multi-pronged approach that encourages employees to walk, bike, or take transit to work. Apple has a very successful shuttle service for its employees, serving people who live as far as Napa, Santa Cruz, and places in between. Currently, 28% of Apple employees commute by alternative means of transportation.
In addition, Apple has committed to increasing the share of employees using an alternative means of transportation on the new campus to 34%. The newly built campus has a transit center to accommodate buses and bicycles for employees to use as they
commute from home and get around the City to other offices. Apple also plans to provide other incentives to reduce car trips.
- Yes. Please refer to the Electronic Plan Submittal webpage for guidelines.
Construction is allowed during Cupertino daytime hours, which are defined as being between the following hours:
- Weekdays – 7:00am to 8:00pm
- Weekends – 9:00am to 6:00pm
Construction, other than street construction greater than 750 feet of a residential area, is prohibited on holidays, except that construction conducted by a homeowner or resident of a single family dwelling using domestic construction tools is allowed on holidays between the hours of 9:00am to 6:00pm.
Noise levels should not exceed the following limits:
- Residential Point of Origin - 60 dBA
- Nonresidential Point of Origin - 65 dBA
Brief Noise IncidentsDuring the daytime period only, brief noise incidents exceeding limits in other sections of this chapter are allowed; providing, that the sum of the noise duration in minutes plus the excess noise level does not exceed twenty in a two-hour period. For example, the following combinations would be allowable:Noise Increment Above Normal StandardNoise Duration in 2-Hour Period5 DBA15 minutes10 dBA10 minutes15 dBA5 minutes19 dBA1 minuteFor multifamily dwelling interior noise, Section 10.48.054, the sum of excess noise level and duration in minutes of a brief daytime incident shall not exceed ten in any two-hour period, measured at the receiving location.
Grading, Construction and DemolitionA. Grading, construction and demolition activities shall be allowed to exceed the noise limits of Section 10.48.040 during daytime hours; provided, that the equipment utilized has high-quality noise muffler and abatement devices installed and in good condition, and the activity meets one of the following two criteria:1. No individual device produces a noise level more than eighty-seven (87) dBA at a distance of twenty-five (25) feet (7.5 meters); or2. The noise level on any nearby property does not exceed eighty (80) dBA.B. Notwithstanding Section 10.48.053A, it is a violation of this chapter to engage in any grading, street construction, demolition or underground utility work within seven hundred fifty (750) feet of a residential area on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, and during the nighttime period, except as provided in Section 10.48.030.D. Construction, other than street construction, is prohibited during nighttime periods unless it meets the nighttime standards of Section 10.48.040.E. The use of helicopters as a part of a construction and/or demolition activity shall be restricted to between the hours of nine a.m. and six thirty p.m. Monday through Friday only, and prohibited on the weekends and holidays. The notice shall be given at least twenty-four hours in advance of said usage. In cases of emergency, the twenty-four hour period may be waived.
- Please visit our Building Code Standards page.
Monday through Thursday from 10:00 AM until 12:00 PM.
Santa Clara County Fire Department is available to review plans from Monday through Thursday from 11:00 AM until 12:00 PM.
Permits are not required for the following when related to single family homes which do not encroach over a subsurface drain system, public utility easement, or into required setbacks from property lines:
- One-story detached accessory structures, provided that the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet and not attached to the house. Any electrical work done will still require an electrical permit. Please contact the Planning Department for any questions on property setbacks at (408) 777-3308.
- Fences not over 7 feet (2134 mm) high.
- Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet (1219 mm) in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge.
- Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons (18 927 L) and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1.
- Sidewalks and driveways.
- Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work.
- Prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep.
- Swings and other playground equipment.
- Window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches (1372 mm) from the exterior wall and do not require additional support.
- Decks not exceeding 200 square feet (18.58 m2) in area, that are not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above grade at any point, are not attached to a dwelling and do not serve the exit door required by Section R311.4. Please contact the Planning Department for any questions on property setbacks at (408) 777-3308.
- Listed cord-and-plug connected temporary decorative lighting.
- Reinstallation of attachment plug receptacles (but not the outlets).
- Replacement of branch circuit overcurrent devices of the required capacity in the same location.
- Electrical wiring, devices, appliances, apparatus or equipment operating at less than 25 volts and not capable of supplying more than 50 watts of energy.
- Minor repair work, including the replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles.
- Portable heating, cooking or clothes drying appliances.
- Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe.
- Portable-fuel-cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid.
- Portable heating appliances.
- Portable ventilation appliances.
- Portable cooling units.
- Steam, hot- or chilled-water piping within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by this code.
- Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe.
- Portable evaporative coolers.
- Self-contained refrigeration systems containing 10 pounds (4.54 kg) or less of refrigerant or that are actuated by motors of 1 horsepower (746 W) or less.
- Portable-fuel-cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid.
- The stopping of leaks in drains, water, soil, waste or vent pipe; provided, however, that if any concealed trap, drainpipe, water, soil, waste or vent pipe becomes defective and it becomes necessary to remove and replace the same with new material, such work shall be considered as new work and a permit shall be obtained and inspection made as provided in this code.
- The clearing of stoppages or the repairing of leaks in pipes, valves or fixtures, and the removal and reinstallation of water closets, provided such repairs do not involve or require the replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes or fixtures.
Apple was required to make a total of $75 million in physical improvements in facilities located in the cities of Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and San Jose, as well as the County of Santa Clara and Caltrans jurisdiction. Contributions were made toward the following projects/studies identified with feedback from other cities and agencies were made:
- Neighborhood funding – Funding for neighborhood cut-through and parking intrusion for the neighboring cities of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara. Apple contribution: Approximately $750,0000.
- Bus Stop Improvements – Contributions toward multimodal improvements for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) bus stop improvements. Apple contribution: Approximately $669,0000.
- I-280 Corridor Study – a study to identify and evaluate a range of transportation-related improvement projects along the 22-mile corridor from the US 101/280 interchange in San Jose to the San Mateo County line near Palo Alto. Apple contribution: $500,000.
- Safety upgrades at traffic signals to improve emergency access. Apple contribution: $300,000.
SR-85 Express Lanes – a proposal from the VTA to allow High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on SR-85. This would allow solo riders to travel in the carpool or High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes for a fee. Apple contribution: Approximately
- Restriping Project on I-280 – a proposal from Caltrans to restripe portions of I-280 to allow for safe and improving vehicle movement between El Monte and Magalena. Apple contribution: Approximately $35,0000.
Apple has also been required to enhance the capacity of roadways and intersections within Cupertino, as well those owned and operated by other jurisdictions. These include:
- Expanding the capacity of both the northbound and southbound I-280 off-ramps at Wolfe Road.
- Constructing an additional eastbound lane along the Calvert Drive frontage south of I-280 between Stevens Creek Boulevard and Lawrence Expressway, including the installation of a new traffic signal at Calvert Drive and the addition of an eastbound right-turn lane on Stevens Creek Boulevard.
- Adding a lane to the southbound on-ramp to I-280 at Lawrence Expressway.
- Constructing an additional left-turn lane and right-turn-lane at the northbound Lawrence Expressway/I-280 off-ramp at Stevens Creek Boulevard.
- Widening of northbound Wolfe Road between I-280 and Pruneridge Avenue.
- Constructing a southbound right-turn-only lane on De Anza Boulevard at Homestead Road.
- Lengthening of various left-turn pockets Citywide.
- Apple Park, formerly known as Apple Campus 2 and “The Spaceship,” is located in the north eastern portion of Cupertino near the borders of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara. It was one of the last projects that Steve Jobs oversaw. You can view Steve Jobs’ 20-minute presentation to the Cupertino City Council on June 7, 2011 here. Below are frequently asked questions the City of Cupertino Councilmembers and staff have received about the project. City Council actions and approved documents can be found here.
The Floor Area Ratio (F.A.R.) of a property/development is calculated by dividing the floor area of the development by the lot area.
Floor area is the total area of all habitable floors of a building measured to the outside of exterior walls including the following:
- Depth of all walls
- Base of stairwells
- Base of elevator shafts
- Services and mechanical equipment rooms
- Interior building area above 15 feet in height between any floor level and the ceiling above
- Residential garages
- Roofed arcades, breezeways, porches, and similar features that are enclosed by walls on three sides
- All accessory structures, such as sheds and Accessory Dwelling Units
The following features are not included in floor area calculations:
- basements with lightwells that conform to Section 19.28.070(I)
- attic areas
The lot area is the area of the parcel, and can be measured or verified by a surveyor. Some of this area may need to be excluded from the calculations, such as:
- street right-of-way
- natural waterway, river, creek or stream, or flood control or drainage easement
- the portion of a flag lot connecting to the street
Lot coverage refers to the footprint of all structures, plus the roof eaves and patio/porch overhangs. Basically, if you took an aerial photo of your property and traced the outline of all structures, that is lot coverage.
In R-1, 45% of the lot can be covered by structures, with an additional 5% allowed for coverage by roof overhangs, patios, porches, and other structures not enclosed by walls on at least three sides.
The building envelope is like an imaginary tent placed on your property within which single story elements of your home (including eaves) or single-story sections of two-story homes must fit.
Exception: A gable end of a roof enclosing an attic space may encroach outside of the building envelope and have a maximum wall height of 17 feet from natural grade to the peak of the roof, or 20 feet with a Minor Residential Permit.
For most R1 zoned property, a 10’ tall vertical imaginary line is drawn at all the property lines that then has intersecting lines at a 25-degree angle that peak towards the center of the property.
In the R1-a zone, the imaginary vertical line is 12’ tall and located 10 feet inside the property lines.
Floor area differs from Lot Coverage in that it only calculates floor area to the exterior of the wall, not overhangs, but also that it counts second story square footage.
Therefore, the lot coverage of a two story home may be almost half the square footage of it's Floor area and the lot coverage of a single story home may be quite close to it's Floor area.
The Maximum FAR determines how many square feet can be built on a property. In R1 Zoning Districts, the Maximum FAR is 0.45 or 45%.
Calculating F.A.R. for R1 Property Area 13,500 sq. ft. Drainage Easement Area 1,000 sq. ft. Flag portion of lot 2,500 sq. ft. Lot Area 10,000 sq. ft. Maximum F.A.R. Allowed 10,000 x 0.45 = 4,500 sq. ft.
In this scenario, a maximum of 4,500 square feet can be built.
The rear yard setback in R1, R2 and R3 zoning districts may be reduced so long as the amount of usable rear yard prescribed in the ordinance is provided.
In the R1 zoning district, the required 20 foot rear yard setback may be reduced to 10 feet with a Minor Residential Permit as long as the usable rear yard area is at least 20 times the lot width (measured from the front setback line).
Determining Building Addition allowed Width of the lot at front yard setback line (20 feet) 75 feet Minimum Usable Rear Yard Area (75 feet x 20 feet) 1,500 sq. ft. Existing Usable Rear Yard Area (75 feet x 25 feet) 1,875 sq. ft. Maximum Building Addition allowed (1,875 - 1,500 sq. ft.) 375 sq. ft. Minimum setback allowed with Minor Residential Permit 10 feet
The answer is found in the California Residential Building Code (Sections R314 and R315):
Smoke Alarms shall be provided in the following areas: (R314.3)
- In each sleeping room.
- Outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.
- On each additional story within a dwelling unit, including basements and habitable attics and not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics.
- Smoke alarms shall be installed not less than 3 feet horizontally from the door or opening of a bathroom that contains a bathtub or shower unless this would prevent placement of a smoke alarm required by R314.3
Carbon monoxide alarms shall be installed in the following area: (R315.2)
- Outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.
- On every occupiable level of a dwelling unit, including basements.
- Where a fuel burning appliance is located within a bedroom or its attached bathroom, a carbon monoxide alarm shall be installed within the bedroom.
A Building Permit shall not be required for the following:
- One-story detached accessory buildings used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the projected floor area does not exceed 120 square feet and provided such structures are not located within required yard setback areas.
- Fences not over 7 feet high.
- Movable cases, counters, storage shelves and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches high.
- Retaining walls, which are not over 4 feet in height, measured from grade to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impound flammable liquids.
- Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed two to one.
- Platforms, walks and driveways, not more than 30 inches above grade and not over any basement or story below.
- Painting, papering and similar finish work.
- Temporary motion picture, television and theatre stage sets and scenery.
- Window awnings supported by an exterior wall of Group R, Division 3, and Group U Occupancies when projecting not more than 54 inches.
- Prefabricated swimming pools which do not exceed 24 inches in height accessory to a Group R, Division 3 Occupancy in which the pool walls are entirely above the adjacent grade and if the capacity does not exceed 5000 gallons provided that barriers around such swimming pools per the governing codes are installed.
- Oil derricks.
- Shade cloth structures constructed for nursery or agricultural purposes, not including service systems.
- Swings and other playground equipment accessory to detached one- and two-family dwellings.
A Mechanical Permit shall not be required for the following excepting that a permit is required for vertical and structural support and anchoring of permanent equipment and overhead pipes:
- Any portable heating appliance.
- Any portable ventilating equipment.
- Any portable cooling unit.
- Any portable evaporative cooler.
- Any closed system of steam, hot or chilled water piping within any heating or cooling equipment regulated by the Mechanical Code.
- Replacement of any component part of assembly of an appliance, which does not alter its original approval and complies with other applicable requirements of the technical codes.
- Any refrigerating equipment, which is part of the equipment for which a permit has been issued pursuant to the requirements of the technical codes.
Building permits are required for new Construction, Remodeling and Tenant Improvements for both Commercial and Residential projects. Construction plans and documents are reviewed for compliance with applicable State and local laws and regulations.
Mechanical permits are required for installation or replacement of mechanical equipment, such as furnaces, air conditioning units, hoods, boilers and others.
Electrical permits are required for electrical equipment and electrical installations associated with other equipment, such as outlets, lighting fixtures, electrical wiring, electrical panels and services, signs and others.
Plumbing permits are required for installation or replacement of plumbing fixtures such as sewer, water and gas lines, water heaters, sinks, water closets and others.
A plumbing permit shall not be required for the following:
- The stopping of leaks in drains, soil, waste or vent pipes, provided, however, that should any concealed trap, drainpipe, soil, waste or vent pipe become defective and it becomes necessary to remove and replace the same with new material, the same shall be considered as new work and a permit shall be procured and inspection made as provided in this title.
- The clearing of stoppages or the repairing of leaks in pipes, valves or fixtures, nor for the removal and reinstallation of water closets, provided such repairs do not involve or require the replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes or fixtures.
- Gas: 1) Portable heating appliance
2) Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe.
An Electrical Permit shall not be required for the following:
- Repairs and maintenance: Minor repair work, including the replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles.
- Radio and television transmitting stations: The provisions of this code shall not apply to electrical equipment used for radio and television transmissions, but do apply to equipment and wiring for a power supply and the installations of towers and antennas.
- Temporary testing systems: A permit shall not be required for the installation of any temporary system required for the testing or servicing of electrical equipment or apparatus.
At its peak, Hewlett Packard, which had previously owned the property, had approximately 9,800 employees. With Apple’s redevelopment, it is anticipated that there will be approximately 13,200 employees at Apple Park, an increase of 3,400 people.
While cities are not specifically required to house all employees, California state law requires cities to plan for housing demand as a result of expected job growth. As part of a required Housing Element, each city is required to plan for a certain allocation of housing over a specific period (Regional Housing Needs Allocation or “RHNA.”) Cupertino’s commitment to meeting its RHNA and to creating more opportunities for affordable housing is reflected in various policies adopted and championed by the City Council.
Cupertino’s Housing Element (HE), adopted in May 2015, identified sites throughout the city to accommodate its (RHNA) to help improve the jobs to housing ratio and to bring housing closer to jobs.
- In addition, in 2015, the Council increased developer in-lieu fee contributions toward affordable housing. Additionally, the City successfully negotiated with developers to include affordable housing within their projects that would be affordable for lower income residents, teachers, etc.
- Since adoption of the HE and increased housing mitigation fees, the City has approved 807 new residential units:
- Hamptons – 600 net new homes (total 942 units); 71 affordable units (41 very low and low income; 30 moderate income)
- Marina Plaza – 188 net new homes; 18 affordable units (16 very low income; 2 moderate income)
- The Verandas – 19 net new homes; 18 senior affordable units (6 extremely low income, 6 very low income and 6 low income)
- As the City works toward implementation of housing goals, it will continue to look for ways to incorporate more housing and affordable housing options.
The California Building Code requires a Building Permit for new Construction, Remodeling and Tenant Improvements for both Commercial and Residential projects; a mechanical permits for installation or replacement of mechanical equipment, such as furnaces, air conditioning units, hoods, boilers, etc.; an electrical permits for electrical equipment and electrical installations associated with other equipment, such as outlets, lighting fixtures, electrical wiring, electrical panels and services, signs; and a plumbing permits for installation or replacement of plumbing fixtures such as sewer, water and gas lines, water heaters, sinks, water closets, etc.
If you are found performing construction work without the benefit of a building permit, a Building Inspector may stop the work in progress. Work cannot continue until a proper permit has been obtained. In these cases, permit fees are doubled. Work done without the benefit of inspections can pose a health and safety hazard and potentially make it harder to sell your home.