Building Professional Design Limitations

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Professional Limitations Applicable Statutes
Structural Engineers No limitations; may design any type of building. 6731, 6736, 5537.1 of B & P Codes
Architects May design any type of building, except the structural portion of a hospital. 15048 of H & S Code 5500.1, 6737 of B & P Code.
Civil Engineers May design any building, except for hospitals or schools 15013 of H & S Code 5537.5, 6731, 6735 of B & P Code.
Unlicensed Persons See below 5537, 5538, 6737.1 of B & P Code

Unless the Building Official deems that an undue risk to the public health, safety or welfare is involved; or affects the structural system or safety of the building; or the design deviates from the substantial compliance with the conventional framing requirements for wood framed construction found in the Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations or Tables of Limitations for wood frame construction and California Residential Code, unlicensed persons may prepare plans, drawings or specifications for the following:

  • Single-family dwellings of wood frame construction not more than two stories and a basement in height
  • Multiple dwellings containing not more than four dwelling units of wood frame construction, not more than two stories and a basement in height. A single lot may have a maximum of four dwelling units per lot
  • Garages or other structures appurtenant to single family dwellings, of wood frame construction not more than two stories and a basement in height
  • Non-structural interior alterations or additions including the installation of fixtures, cabinetwork, furniture, appliances, or equipment
  • Agricultural and ranch buildings of wood frame construction
  • May not prepare plans for those alterations that will change or affect any components of the structural system or safety of the building or its occupants.

Plans prepared for the following works except as specifically noted above, shall be deemed as affecting the safety of a building or its occupants and shall be prepared by, stamped, and signed by a registered engineer or architect:

  • New commercial buildings, additions to existing commercial buildings
  • Projects with interior or exterior structural alterations
  • Interior alteration with an occupancy change
  • Interior alteration with walls and partitions over 5'9" in height or ceiling work which cover a floor area greater than 3,000 square feet in B, F-1, F-2, S-1, S-2 and M occupancies
  • Storage racks over 8' in height
  • Remodeling projects with changes to fire walls, barriers or partitions
  • Alteration with change to exiting requirements
  • High hazardous Group H occupancies
  • Assembly occupancies A-1, A-2, A-3 and A-4
  • Tanks and vessels
  • Machinery and equipment requiring design per table 23-P of UBC
  • Roof mounted mechanical equipment
  • School and day care classified as educational group E occupancies
  • Institutional occupancies I-1, I-2 and I-3
  • Projects with S-1 & S-2 occupancies
  • Hotel, motel and apartment occupancies R-1 and R-2
  • Projects with mixed occupancies
  • Remodeling projects in a high-rise (having floors over 75' in height) building
  • Lateral force resisting systems utilizing poles embedded in the ground
  • Cripple walls exceeding 4' in height or adjacent to garage door openings
  • Any project deemed by the Building Official to require professional design by a California Registered Engineer or Architect