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Can You Get a Septic Permit Before a Building Permit in San Diego County?

Septic System Permits in San Diego County

All right everyone, today I’m going to address septic systems. I want to talk about the permitting process, specifically  with septic systems. This applies to the San Diego County area. This is a common question we receive: Can we get the septic system permit pulled and get our septic system in before we have a building permit? The typical answer is no, you cannot. One reason why the county does not allow it is they do not want people living in trailers on properties. Another reason is they do not want people building a house without a permit and then having an available septic system already on property. They do not typically allow you to do that.

Septic Layout

The typical process allows you to obtain an approved septic layout. Septic Layouts can be applied for at the County building. They cost approximately $1,100. Sometimes they cost more and sometimes less, the amount frequently changes. This amount is an application fee. Along with the application, and you must give them a septic layout so that the County will approve it based on a certain size home that you plan to build. If you want to show them a layout for a three, four, or five bedroom home, you can do that and they will approve it. The approved layout is typically good for a year before it expires. The permit is renewable. I think we just renewed a permit because the county was so slow in issuing their building permits, this layout took over a year getting issued, and we had to pay about a $600 renewal fee on the septic layout.

Percolation Test Before the Septic Layout

In order to get that septic layout actually drawn up and submitted to the county, you must make sure that the perc test is complete, if not, you may have to complete a perc test. One perc test workaround, in rural locations, is to look at the adjacent properties and see if there’s homes built on those properties. If so, investigate what septic systems were installed or find out if a perc test has been completed on those properties. The county will utilize the worst case scenario of those properties or of the perc tests. A wore case scenario means that the ground took longer for the water to seep into compared to the other lots. The County will base the size of your system off of that slower absorption rate. That is pretty typical and they allow you to do that.

How Much Does a Percolation Test Cost?

A percolation test could cost $3,500, so it also makes sense to just get one done and then you’ll be able to size your system according to the home you want to build. The layout needs to identify exactly where the house is going, along with the driveway and any areas that are impacted by grading. This will assure that the septic systems will be installed in the right spot on the property.

Recap on Septic System and Building Permits in San Diego County

To recap on this, the county will not issue a septic permit until you actually have a building permit. Most often, those will issue at the same time. When you go to the County, the Department of Environmental Health will issue the septic permit on the same day you plan to pick up the building permit. That way the County ensures that they are both issued at the same time.

Temporary Allowances and Guidelines for the Final Inspection

In the case that you want to stay on the property at the same time as the build, such as in a trailer, the County will issue a permit for temporary occupancy of that trailer on the property. In order to get a final inspection and the certificate of occupancy for your home to get your certificate of occupancy, that trailer must be removed prior to the building inspector signing off on the final inspection.

Buying Land and Building a Home Resources

All right, I hope that clears that up. If you more questions, go to our website at www.tfgonline.com. We have a ton of resources available for download such as how to buy land and how to budget a custom home or ADU build. You can also get a lot of information from our FAQ page. We update the FAQs on a regular basis so that the pricing and processing remains up to date. Want to learn more about residential real estate? Join us and listen to “The Real Property Show”.

I hope that helps, have a great rest of your day and thank you for your time.

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