Building Permits Are Online and Easy to View in San Jose

Building permits search page at - click to go to that siteBuilding permits are not hard to research online in San Jose.

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, which takes you to

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!

Related reading

How important are permits and finals?

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!)

Home sellers wonder: can I leave debris behind when I move out?

Silicon Valley home sellers may find themselves exhausted by their move and wonder if they can leave trash or other debris behind when they move out.  Most of the time, San Jose area home buyers aren’t thrilled with this idea (though there are exceptions).  The main thing is this: what does the contract say?

Both the PRDS and CAR contracts do address this issue of what can be left behind.  First, here’s the CAR paragraph on this topic:


CAR on removal of debris at close of escrow


And here’s what the PRDS purchase agreement says:


PRDS on removal of debris at possession


Both of them say that debris must be removed either at the close of escrow, or if there’s a rentback, when the buyer takes possession.

That said, sometimes buyers will write into the contract that the seller is allowed to leave behind debris.  Why would they do this?  If it’s multiple offers, making the move easier on the seller may increase the odds of getting the offer accepted.  Or perhaps the buyers just really want the ‘stuff’ in the garage.  I’ve seen it happen.

Either way, if you are buying or selling a home, it’s important to read and understand your obligations and rights.  The final walk through can be an opportunity to point out debris that may be a concern, among other things.  Best to not wait until after closing, if possible, to find things for the seller to do.




How much time do you need for inspections when buying a home?

Ability to inspectThe real estate contracts in use in Santa Clara County (PRDS and CAR forms) both include a space for stating how many days are requested for the property condition contingency, which includes inspections as well as other investigations.  How much time does it usually take? The CAR contract has a boilerplate number of days offered, 17, as well as a blank.  The PRDS doesn’t make any such suggestion.

In Silicon Valley, unlike most of the rest of California, most home sellers provide pre-sale inspections for viewing by potential buyers. Often it’s at least a termite or pest report plus a home inspection. In many cases the disclosure package includes not just these two inspections, but others as well, possibly roof, chimney, or other components.

When there are no pre-sale inspections available for home buyers to read prior to writing the offer, the number of days requested for inspections tends to be longer.  In this case, prospective buyers don’t really know the condition of what they’re purchasing so they will need a couple of weeks or more, in most cases, to be satisfied that they understand the condition of the property. Sellers are far less likely to see non-contingent offers or contracts with short numbers of days for investigation if the buyers aren’t given full disclosure upfront. (more…)