The Permit Perspective on California Building Trends

CIRB (Construction Industry Research Board)’s lead research analyst is sharing some important facts about permit tracking and building activity trends.


What precisely does CIRB do?

CIRB is the industry’s most accurate and reliable source for residential and commercial construction permit statistics.

Our two-person research team works on a monthly basis to request building reports from over 530 California jurisdictions, interpret each issued building permit record, and input the information into our database to generate custom and subscription data reports.

CIRB houses current and historical permit statistics dating back to 1954 and is regularly utilized by state agencies, universities, and various private sector organizations.

Does the building permit process in California take a long time, or has it become more streamlined than in the past?

The permit process varies by municipality. Some city and county building departments have very efficient permit application procedures, while others are more outdated and time-consuming.

The lack of consistency between the departments in our state not only affects the reporting of permit activity, but also the day-to-day operations of building contractors, and, by extension, their clients.

Although some jurisdictions utilize online permitting systems and software developed by private companies, there has yet to be a single, standardized permit reporting system implemented statewide.

What are some of the current residential building trends in California?

While new residential permits significantly decreased in September 2018, we’re finally seeing some cumulative year-to-date increases in October from 2017 to present. Whether or not California will issue more than 115,000 dwellings, as we did at the close of 2017, is still up in the air.

Multi-family units have typically dominated the trends in recent years, but it’s highly possible a single-family permit resurgence will take place in 2018.

Make sure to subscribe to CIRB’s monthly Construction Review to stay on top of statewide building trends. Click here to get your report today.