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Planning Building and Code Enforcement
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ADU/Single-Family Master Plan Program
Designers and builders who offer building plans that are pre-approved by the City of San José can offer their customers expedited plan review, subject to any site concerns. This applies to detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs), pre-manufactured homes, or wood-framed single-family homes.

Pre-approved “master plans” enable City staff to quickly review a proposed project’s standard construction plan layouts. The master plans may include associated configuration options. The plans must clearly identify the level of scope for the Master Plan.

Master Plans are allowed in residential zoning districts, specifically: R-1, R-2, R-M zones, and in PD (planned development) zones as allowed by the covenants of the PD zone.

ADU customers who use approved Master Plan designs have the benefit of using our streamlined, lowest-cost plan review services.

How do I obtain a Master Plan approval?

Appointment required. Call 408-793-5302 to schedule an appointment for a Master Plan submittal. Your submittal will be reviewed by staff in Building, Planning, Fire Prevention, and Public Works.

Master plan submittal package. An accurate, complete submittal package is required and must include:
  1. Architectural information, plans, elevations, sections, and details
  2. Structural information, plans, elevations, sections, and details
  3. Structural calculations
  4. Title 24 energy documents, as applicable
  5. Truss plans and calculations, as applicable
  6. Indication of Fire sprinklers: Provide a statement as to whether the standard construction plan layout proposes to be equipped with an automatic fire sprinkler system.
  7. Geotechnical investigation report, as applicable
  8. For ADUs, you may use code minimum soil valuation for foundation design, or pre-scripted footing sizes if conventional construction is used, or match existing foundation.
  9. A standard site plan as reference is optional.

 An incomplete package will not be accepted. If you must resubmit, another appointment will need to be scheduled.

Building code updates affect master plans. You will need to re-file a Master Plan when the City adopts new building codes, building policies, or zoning changes that are applicable to the Master Plan. The City will notify you if such changes take place.

Customer Use of an Approved Master Plan

Before undertaking an ADU project, all homeowners are encouraged to review the ADU Universal Checklist to make sure their project qualifies for an ADU, and they are aware if their project is subject to a planning permit, geohazard clearance, or fire mitigation measures, and related fees. These requirements may also affect projects using an approved Master Plan design.

Customer Plan Submittal Requirements for a site-specific application:

See also Bulletin #211-ADU Building Plans Submittal Checklist for direction on format and content of the submittal package. A site-specific application must include:
  1. Project site plan/plot plan that includes scope of work, parcel boundaries, dimensions, street name, and location of any utilities and easements
  2. Location and dimensions of the primary dwelling unit and ADU, including distances from the main dwelling to the ADU and to parcel boundaries
  3. Architectural information, plans, elevations, sections, and details
  4. Structural information, plans, elevations, sections, and details
  5. Structural calculations as reference (an updated calculation is needed for minor changes).
  6. Title 24 energy documents as reference (an updated document is needed for minor changes).
  7. Foundation information

Plan Review Process

Master Plan Projects Without Changes.
For projects adhering to the approved Master Plan without any changes: Call 408-793-5302 to make an appointment for our lowest-cost Over-The-Counter service when ready to proceed.

Master Plan Projects With Minor Changes. Minor changes are limited to:
  • One load-bearing beam or wall (shear wall); and
  • No more than 25 percent of change to the Master Plan configuration.

Call 408-793-5302 to make an appointment for Express Service when ready to proceed.

Note: The plan review supervisor has discretion to direct that the plans be submitted for regular Plan Review Service if changes exceed what the City considers as minor.


Building fees.
Visit the Building Fees page, open the Building Fee Schedule and look at the Single-Family Residential fee section. For ADUs, use the addition/alteration table to determine the fee.

Other fees and taxes. Other fees such as Public Works clearance fees, Parkland fees, and School fees, and all applicable taxes, must be paid prior to permit issuance. These fees have links on the Building Fees page.

The building permit fee is due at the time of application. All fees must be paid before the City will issue a building permit.


Our ADU Ally provides assistance with the Master Plan Pilot Program:
Phone: 408-793-5302

All of this information can be downloaded as Bulletin #212 - ADU & Single-Family Master Plan Program.