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Patios & Decks

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Patios or deck covers cannot exceed 16 feet in height (more restrictive height requirements may apply; check with the Planning Department. They may be simple structures consisting of a roof and supporting members only or they may be enclosed. Patio covers may be freestanding (detached) or attached to the house. Decks and patio covers constructed of combustible material must meet the fire safety setback requirements from the property line. Decks constructed within 6 inches of the ground are required to be constructed of redwood, pressure treated or naturally durable/insect resistant lumber to avoid rot.

Enclosed patio walls may have any configuration, provided the open area of the longer wall and one additional wall is equal to at least 65% of the area below a minimum of 6 feet 8 inches of each wall measured from the floor. Openings may be enclosed with insect screening or translucent or transparent plastic that is readily removable and not more than 0.125 (1/8) inch in thickness. Enclosed patios shall not cover the required egress window of a bedroom. Patio and deck covers shall be used only for recreational outdoor living purposes and not as carports, garages, storage rooms or habitual rooms.

Sunrooms are glassed-in enclosures and are allowed if certain conditions are met:

  • The door leading into the sunroom from the house is left in place.
  • The sunroom is not heated or used as habitable space.
  • The sunroom does not cover the required egress window to a bedroom.
  • The sunroom does not alter the natural lighting and ventilation requirements of adjacent rooms.

Permits Required

Decks: A permit shall be required for any deck that is:

  • Attached to the main structure regardless of size, or
  • Over 30 inches above grade at any point (requires guardrail), or
  • Over 120 square feet.

Patio or deck covers: A patio cover, regardless of size or of roof covering, requires a building permit. Prior to obtaining a permit, the Planning Department must approve setback, height and lot placement, as well as sizing of any structure over 120 sq. feet and larger.

Required Drawings: Three (3) complete sets of plans must be submitted. The plans must be drawn on substantial paper (minimum 18”x 24”) exactly as the project is to be constructed. A separate copy of the site and floor plans(s) is required for the Contra Costa County Assessor.

Plot Plan: Show the size and position of the patio or deck in relation to the existing building, property lines and public utility easements.

Framing Plan: All of the following information must be detailed:

  • The size of the rafters, beams or girders
  • The difference between supporting columns
  • The method of attachment to the house and foundation
  • The type of foundation used
  • The materials being used to construct the patio or deck

Handrails and Guardrails
Decks that are constructed 30 inches or more above ground level are required to have a guardrail and a continuous handrail along the flight of stairs serving the deck.

The top of the guardrail shall be not less than 36 inches in height.

Handrails are required on stairs that have four or more risers. The top of the handrails shall be placed not less than 34 inches nor more than 38 inches above the nosing of the treads. They shall be continuous for the full length of the stairs and the ends shall be returned or terminate in newel posts. The handgrip portion of the handrail shall not be less than 1-1/2 inches nor more than 2 inches in cross section with an adequate smooth gripping surface with no sharp corners and spaced 1-1/2 inches from an adjacent wall.

Permit Applications
When applying for a permit, certain information is required to be submitted;

  • Description of the work
  • Location of the project
  • Legal owner’s name, address and phone number
  • Valuation of the proposed work
  • Other information as may be required

The owner/contractor or an authorized agent is the only person who can legally sign for a building permit. Upon approval and issuance of the permit, the permit holder has 180 days to commence work on the project.


Decks: The following inspections are made only if a permit is issued for the deck:

  • Footing: To be made after pier holes are dug and prior to concrete placement.
  • Final: To be made after girders are set and the deck, handrails and stairs, if used, are installed.

Patio or deck covers: Due to the nature of the structure the frame and final are completed at the same time unless the patio walls are enclosed. If the walls are to be covered on both sides, and the framework has electrical wiring, an inspection of the frame is required. A final inspection is made when the patio cover walls are enclosed and the cover is completed.