Plan Review Procedures

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The City strives to help the public understand the plan review process by outlining the timelines for different projects and offering guidelines regarding the types of information needed to conduct plan review. The extent of the review required to issue permits for a project depends on a structure's use or occupancy type, its location, and the impact of its construction on the environment. The goal of the Department of Building and Safety is to complete all initial plan reviews within 15 working days, within 10 working days for re-submittals.

Seismic and Wind Design Requirements

Architects' and engineers' most common questions are related to basic seismic and wind requirements. The City of Palm Desert is located within

  • Seismic Design Category: D - California Building Code         D2 - California Residential Code
  • Ultimate Wind Design (R301.2.1.3): 110 mph (CRC - Figure R301.2(4)A – Palm Desert is within a Special Wind Region (Figure R301.2(4)B.)
  • Wind Exposure: Special Wind Region (per Design Professional, Site Specific)

 If you have any questions regarding these requirements, please call (760) 776-6420.(Palm Desert Design Criteria)

Minimum Requirements for Submittal of Plans

All new construction projects, additions, remodels, and tenant improvements are required to submit two (2) complete sets of plans, plus one additional site plan and dimensioned floor plan for plan review. Plan submittal requirements are itemized into three (3) separate categories:

The plan review guidelines are provided to assist you with a basic understanding of the types of plans and drawings that are needed to conduct plan review.

Plan Review Submittal Requirements for Residential Additions and Alterations

Plot Plan:
The Plot Plan must be drawn to scale with setbacks identified between the property lines and any existing structures. Show the location of all existing structures on the property. Provide a north arrow. Show the locations of utility meters, driveway locations, drainage path, right-of-ways, and easements. An information box should be placed in the bottom right corner indicating the street address, owner's name and address, and the name of the person preparing the plans.

Foundation Plan:
Provide a plan view of the foundation slab and cross section of footing details. Note soil type and all allowable soil bearing pressure used for building design. Indicate all steel reinforcement size and location, all hold down hardware locations, anchor bolt sizes and spacing, vapor barrier thickness, etc.

Floor Plan:
Provide a double-lined plan view of the proposed job. Indicate size and location of all doors, windows, and headers. Show size, spacing, and direction of ceiling joists. Identify all plumbing fixtures, electrical devices, outlets, lights, and switches. For room additions, show the existing use, square footage, and the location and size of windows in the adjacent rooms.

Roof Plan:
Truss calculations are required for any proposed trussed roof. Truss calculations must be reviewed by the project engineer/architect for compliance with his/her design. If conventionally framed, indicate size, spacing, and direction of rafters. Identify roof finish material and sheathing underlayment.

Exterior Elevations:
For room additions, provide three (3) exterior elevations identified as front, left, and right sides. Show doors, windows, finished floor line, exterior finish, and indicate roof pitch. On new homes, all four (4) exterior elevations should be shown. Additionally, if the project was subject to Design Review, indicate all applicable colors and other requirements of the Planning Department.

Required Details:
Provide a cross section (cut view) of proposed job. Show foundation, wall studs, ceiling joists, rafters, roof pitch, etc. Indicate size, spacing, and materials proposed. If ceiling is vaulted, show cross section and structural connections.

Finish Materials:
Finish materials must be outlined or noted to indicate the ceiling, wall, and floor finish materials and types, also the proposed glazing materials including the frame.

Engineering (Structural) Plans and Calculations:
If required, the location, size, and grade of all framing members and specifications must be noted on the plans. Plans are required to be stamped and wet signed by the professional responsible for their particular expertise and plan preparation. Include the structural design criteria design load for, wind, seismic, etc. on the plans. Two (2) complete sets of structural calculations and truss calculations (if applicable) with the architect's or engineer's original wet signature and stamp on both sets of calculations and plans. Calculations must be complete and cross-referenced to plans to provide a clear correlation with each other.

California Energy Conservation Information: 

 All new and existing residential and non-residential structures with condition space are required to provide energy calculations that will reduce energy consumption. Mechanical, envelope, and lighting calculation and requirements must be demonstrated within the plans (including all applicable compliance forms and information.

California Green Building Information:

When an addition, alteration, or both increase the building’s conditioned area, volume, or size, all the mandatory measures of Chapter 4 shall be applied.  The requirements shall only apply to and/or within the specific area of the addition or alteration.  Please see: City of Palm Desert Cal Green Requirements.

 Other Requirements: 

Additional information relating to the construction of your project may be required by other City or County Agencies. Please feel free to contact a Building and Safety staff at (760) 776-6420 for additional assistance with projects here in the City of Palm Desert.

Plan Review Submittal Requirements for New Commercial / Industrial Plans

Plot Plan:
The Plot Plan must be drawn to scale with setbacks identified between the property lines and any existing structures. Show the location of all existing structures on the property. Provide a north arrow. Show the locations of utility meters, driveway locations, drainage path, right-of-ways and easements. All disabled access parking, walkways, drop off areas, and path of travel from right-of-way for every structure on the site. An information box should be placed in the bottom right corner indicating the street address, owner's name and address, and the name of the person preparing the plans.

Foundation Plan:
Provide a plan view of the foundation slab, and cross section of footing details. Note soil type and all allowable soil bearing pressure used for building design. Indicate all steel reinforcement size and location, all hold down hardware locations, anchor bolt sizes and spacing, vapor barrier thickness, etc.

Floor Plan:
Fully dimension and identify all occupied office space, storage, etc. on floor plan. Show width, distance to, and direction of all exits. Show location of panic hardware. Indicate width and distance of all corridors and type of fire- resistive construction when required. Show all fixed elements of construction such as walls, partitions, cabinets, etc., on the floor plan. Identify area/occupancy separation walls and fire-resistive rating of each on floor plan. Show complete fully dimensioned elevations. Indicate roof pitch and type of roofing. Show details of special or unusual construction or materials. Show detail of fire rated construction and include item number of assembly. Provide fully dimensioned and detailed disabled access information.

Roof Plan:
Truss calculations are required for any proposed trussed roof. Truss calculations must be reviewed by the project engineer/architect for compliance with his/her design. If conventionally framed, indicate size, spacing, and direction of rafters. Identify roof finish material and sheathing underlayment.

Exterior Elevations:
For room additions, provide three (3) exterior elevations identified as front, left, and right sides. Show doors, windows, finished floor line, exterior finish, and indicate roof pitch. All four (4) exterior elevations should be shown. Additionally, if the project was subject to Design Review, indicate all applicable colors and other requirements of the Planning Division.

Required Details:
Provide a cross section (cut view) of proposed job. Show foundation, wall studs, ceiling joists, rafters, roof pitch, etc.. Indicate size, spacing, and materials proposed. If ceiling is vaulted, show cross section and structural connections.

Finish Materials:
Finish materials must be outlined or noted to indicate the ceiling, wall, and floor finish materials and types, as well as the proposed glazing materials, including the frame.

Engineering (Structural) Plans and Calculations:
If required, the location, size, and grade of all framing members and specification must be noted on the plans. Plans are required to be stamped and wet signed by the professional responsible for their particular expertise and plan preparation. Include the structural design criteria design load for, wind, seismic, etc. on the plans. Two (2) complete sets of structural calculations and truss calculations (if applicable) with the architect's or engineer's original wet signature and stamp on both sets of calculations and plans. Calculations must be complete and cross-referenced to plans to provide a clear correlation with each other.

Plumbing and Mechanical Plans:
Provide plumbing isometric and schematic showing sewer, soil, waste vents, and clean out sizes and material. Show water piping system, including pipe sizes and pipe material, to be installed on plumbing floor plans. Show location of all gas meters and all gas piping, including size. Show location of heating and air conditioning equipment, including manufacturer's name, model number, and weight of equipment. Show all duct locations, material, and sizes. Provide the location of all fire dampers in walls, ceilings, and equipment. Provide seismic anchorage methods and materials.

Electrical Plan:
Provide a one-line diagram showing service, feeder panel, conductors, disconnect, over current sizes, grounding methods, and service load calculation. Provide panel schedule with circuit identification, description of circuits, walls, and voltage. Provide fixture schedule and method of support. Detail suspended fixtures. Provide seismic anchorage methods and materials.

State Energy Conservation Information:
All new and existing structures with condition space are required to provide energy calculations that will reduce energy consumption. Mechanical calculations shall include the certificate of compliance form and related applicable forms and information. Envelope calculations shall include certificate of compliance form and related applicable forms and information. Lighting calculations shall include the certificate of compliance form and related applicable forms and information. All of the requirements of the energy calculations shall be shown on the plans.

Other Requirements:
Additional information relating to the construction of your project may be required by other City or County Agencies. Please feel free to contact a Building and Safety staff at (760) 776-6420 for additional assistance with your project.

Plan Review Submittal for Tenant Improvements

Plot Plan:
Provide a fully dimensioned site plan with existing lot lines. Provide the location of all existing building improvements. Show the existing use of all adjacent structures on and off site. Provide the location of existing and/or proposed utilities. Show the existing disabled access conditions and proposed site changes.

Floor Plan:
Provide fully dimensioned floor plans identifying all existing occupied spaces. Show the existing exiting system number, width, distance to, direction of, hardware requirements, etc., including the corridors. Show all fixed elements of existing construction, such as walls, partitions, cabinets, fixtures, etc. Clearly identify all occupancy separations and indicate the fire-resistive rating of each. Show proposed construction on the plan. Show existing and new T-bar ceiling details.

Wall Section:
Typical wall section indicating stud size, height, spacing, insulation, wall finish, and structural connections must be clearly drawn and noted.

Plumbing Plan:
Provide plumbing isometric and schematic of the water piping, gas piping, and drain waste and vent system with the size of all lines and materials to be used. Provide cross section drawings with existing firewalls and ceilings.

Mechanical Plan:
Provide mechanical isometric and schematic of the existing and new duct locations and size. Show the location of all existing and new return air. Show the location of all existing and new fire dampers. Show the method and amount of combustion air. Show the location of all existing and new HVAC units. Provide complete details of any new kitchen hood systems.

Electrical Plan:
Provide a single line diagram of the existing and new system, which includes service location, feeder sizes, panel locations, conductor sizes, disconnect size, over current protection, grounding method, etc. Provide panel schedules with circuit identification. Indicate all outlet, fixture, and equipment locations. Indicate all hazardous electrical locations, as applicable. Provide complete electrical load calculations.

California Energy Conservation Information:
All new and existing non-residential structures with condition space are required to provide energy calculations that will reduce energy consumption. Mechanical, envelope, and lighting calculation and requirements must be demonstrated within the plans (including all applicable compliance forms and information.