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Kitchen Remodeling in Los Altos: A Guide to the 2024 Permitting Process

To remodel your kitchen in Los Altos in 2024, submit three sets of detailed plans to the city, the Santa Clara County Assessor, and keep one for your construction use. Ensure all electrical, plumbing, and mechanical works meet current codes, and schedule necessary inspections through the eTRAKiT website before covering any installations.

Introduction to Kitchen Remodeling in Los Altos

In this article we simplify the official document that is available on Los Altos city website: Kitchen Remodel Guide.


The kitchen remodeling process in Los Altos involves submitting three sets of plans for review and approval. Here’s what you need to know:

  • One set of plans is kept by the city, another goes to the Santa Clara County Assessor, and the last is returned to you for construction and inspections.

  • Plans should be professionally drawn, showing the floor plan, fixtures, and wall legend. They must include the project address, owner’s name, and scope of work.

  • Plans do not need to be prepared by a registered design professional, but they must meet current codes. Structural changes may require calculations from a licensed architect or engineer.

  • The floor plan should show existing, proposed, and removed walls. Extensive wall changes need separate demolition and proposed plan sheets.

Electrical requirements include:

  • Dedicated circuits for appliances.

  • Two 20-amp small appliance branch circuits at countertops, with outlets no more than 24 inches apart.

  • GFCI protection for all countertop outlets.

  • Specific lighting requirements, including separate switches for under-cabinet lighting and high efficacy lighting in pantries.

Plumbing requirements include:

  • New gas piping sized per California Plumbing Code.

  • Dishwashers protected from cross-contamination with an approved air gap.

  • Island plumbing must meet code.

Mechanical requirements include:

  • Downdraft range exhaust ducts must terminate outside and have a backdraft damper.

  • Range hoods sized per manufacturer specifications and must meet clearance requirements.

Permits must be obtained before starting any work. Inspections are required before concealing any framing, electrical, plumbing, or ductwork. Inspections can be scheduled within one or two days' notice.

Plan Submission and Requirements

To get your kitchen remodeling plans approved in Los Altos, you need to submit three sets of plans. One set goes to the city records, another to the Santa Clara County Assessor, and the last one is returned to you for construction and inspections.

Your plans don't need to be made by a registered design professional, but they must be clear and detailed. Include:

  • Floor plans

  • Fixtures

  • Wall legend (showing existing, proposed, and removed walls)

  • Project address, owner's name, address, and phone number

  • Scope of work

  • Note that all work will meet current codes

If there are significant structural changes, an examiner might ask for calculations from a licensed architect or engineer.

Floor plans should clearly show existing, proposed, and removed walls. If many walls are changing, use separate sheets for demolition and proposed plans.

Your plans must include the following requirements:

Electrical Requirements

  • Dedicated circuits for appliances (e.g., dishwasher, disposal, microwave)

  • Two 20-amp circuits for countertops over 12 inches wide

  • GFCI protection for all kitchen outlets

  • Lighting must meet California Energy Code standards

  • Countertop outlets no more than 20 inches above the surface

  • At least one outlet on islands/peninsulas, not more than 12 inches below the countertop

  • All outlets and devices must be AFCI protected and tamper-resistant

Plumbing Requirements

  • New gas piping sized per California Plumbing Code

  • Dishwashers need an air gap 1 inch above the sink flood rim

  • Island plumbing must follow the California Plumbing Code

Mechanical Requirements

  • Downdraft range exhaust ducts must be smooth and terminate outside

  • Range hoods should meet manufacturer specifications and air flow requirements

Demolition can start once your plans are reviewed, approved, and permit fees are paid. Permit fees depend on the total value of the work.

Inspections are needed before finishing any framing, electrical, plumbing, or duct work. Schedule inspections through the eTRAKiT website. A final inspection is required by the City of Los Altos and the California Building Code.

Electrical and Plumbing Requirements

When remodeling your kitchen in Los Altos, you need to meet specific electrical and plumbing requirements according to California Code.

Electrical Requirements:

  • Dedicated Circuits: Appliances like dishwashers, disposals, and microwaves need their own dedicated circuits from the main or sub-panel.

  • Countertop Outlets: You need two 730-amp circuits for countertops wider than 12 inches. Outlets should be no more than 24 inches apart. Peninsulas and islands need at least one outlet.

  • Lighting: All kitchen lighting must follow the California Energy Code. This includes manual switches, separate switches for under-cabinet lighting, and high-efficiency lighting.

  • Outlet Placement: Countertop outlets should be

Permitting Process and Fees

To start your kitchen remodel in Los Altos, you need to understand the permitting process and fees involved. Here's a simple guide to help you:

  • Submit Plans: You need to submit three sets of plans for review and approval. One set is for city records, one for the Santa Clara County Assessor, and one for you to use during construction.

  • Plan Requirements:

    • Plans don't need to be prepared by a registered design professional but must be of professional quality.

    • Include project address, owner's name, address, phone number, and scope of work.

    • Show floor plans, fixtures, wall legends, and note that all work will meet current codes.

    • Structural changes may require calculations from a licensed architect or engineer.

  • Demolition: You can start demolition after plans are reviewed, approved, and permit fees are paid.

  • Permit Fees: Fees are based on the total value of the work. You can find fee schedules on the Los Altos city website or by calling (650) 947-2752.

  • Inspections:

    • Inspections can usually be scheduled within one or two days.

    • Required before concealing any framing, electrical, plumbing, or ductwork.

    • Additional inspections needed for exterior waterproofing, sheetrock, and final gas test.

    • Final inspection required by the City of Los Altos.

  • Scheduling Inspections: All inspections must be scheduled through the eTRAKiT website.

  • Permitting Hours:

    • Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 7:30am – 11:30am & 1:00pm – 4:00pm

    • Tuesday: 8:30am – 11:30am & 1:00pm – 4:00pm

    • Friday: 8:00am – 11:30am & 1:00pm – 3:00pm

    • Closed every other Friday

By following these steps, you can navigate the permitting process smoothly and start your kitchen remodel with confidence.

Inspection Scheduling and Requirements

To schedule inspections for your kitchen remodel in Los Altos, you need to follow specific steps and meet certain requirements. Here's a simple guide to help you through the process:

  • Scheduling Inspections:

    • Inspections can usually be scheduled with one or two days' notice.

    • All inspections must be scheduled through the eTRAKiT website.

  • Inspection Stages:

    • Inspections are required before covering any framing, electrical, plumbing, or duct work.

    • Combination inspections of all trades (framing, electrical, plumbing, duct work) should be done at the same time.

    • Additional inspections are needed for exterior waterproofing/lath, sheetrock, and a final gas test before appliance connection.

  • Final Inspection:

    • A final inspection is required by the City of Los Altos and the California Building Code to ensure all work meets regulations.

  • Important Notes:

    • Requests for an inspection before the work is ready may result in a re-inspection fee and could delay the scheduling process.

For more information, you can contact the City of Los Altos at (650) 947-2752.

FAQ

How many sets of plans do I need to submit for a kitchen remodeling project in Los Altos?

You need to submit three sets of plans. One set is for the city records, another for the Santa Clara County Assessor, and the third is returned to you for use during construction and inspections.

Do my remodeling plans need to be prepared by a registered design professional?

No, your plans do not need to be prepared by a registered design professional, but they must be clear, detailed, and meet current codes. If your project involves significant structural changes, calculations from a licensed architect or engineer might be required.

What specific electrical updates are required for a kitchen remodel in Los Altos?

The electrical updates must include dedicated circuits for appliances, two 20-amp circuits for countertops, GFCI protection for all kitchen outlets, CALGreen compliant lighting, and outlets should not be more than 20 inches above the countertop surface. All outlets and devices must also be AFCI protected and tamper-resistant.

What are the plumbing requirements for kitchen remodeling in Los Altos?

Plumbing updates must include new gas piping sized according to the California Plumbing Code, a dishwasher air gap, and compliance with the island plumbing codes specified in the state regulations.

When can I start demolition for my kitchen remodel?

You can start demolition once your plans are reviewed, approved, and the necessary permit fees are paid.

What are the permit fees based on?

Permit fees are based on the total value of the work. You can get more detailed information on fee schedules from the Los Altos city website or by contacting their office.

How do I schedule inspections during the remodeling process?

Inspections can be scheduled through the eTRAKiT website, usually with one or two days' notice. Ensure all inspections are scheduled as required before covering any framing, electrical, plumbing, or duct work.

What inspections are needed for a kitchen remodel in Los Altos?

You will need several inspections including for framing, electrical, plumbing, and duct work. Additional inspections may be necessary for exterior waterproofing, sheetrock, and a final gas test. A final inspection is mandatory to ensure compliance with the city and state building codes.

What hours is the Los Altos permitting office open?

The permitting office hours are: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday from 7:30am – 11:30am & 1:00pm – 4:00pm; Tuesday from 8:30am – 11:30am & 1:00pm – 4:00pm; and Friday from 8:00am – 11:30am & 1:00pm – 3:00pm. Note that the office is closed every other Friday.

Who should I contact for more details on the kitchen remodeling permitting process in Los Altos?

For more detailed information or specific questions, you can contact the City of Los Altos at (650) 947-2752.

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