Why would you want to check building permits?
Whether you are checking on your own home to make sure the records for the building permits and finals are accurate or if you are considering a property to buy that has had renovations, it’s a good idea to check the permits if possible. (You might also be surprised at what need a permit, such as replacing a water heater or a furnace.)
Most towns and cities now make building permit files available to view online and at no cost. (Exceptions that I know about are the county and the City of Monte Sereno.) That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be able to understand everything in the file or that what’s online is complete. But it is a help!
Here’s the link for the city of San Jose’s site SJPermits.org, which takes you to https://sjpermits.org/permits/online-permits.html
That said, navigating through the site will take time. In my experience, when I locate a property with multiple records, which is typical, I’ll click through to view a PDF or image of the permit. When done, I usually end up having to do the majority of the search over. It’s a lot of clicking through. It’s not hard, but it’s not efficient, either.
Online permits may be viewed in many other Silicon Valley areas too. Just do a web search for your city or town!
Los Gatos: View permits online (Live in Los Gatos blog)
Monte Sereno building permit nightmare (from 2009, Live in Los Gatos blog, a warning story to always keep copies of all of your home’s permits!)