San Mateo remodeling expenses on the rise 

Want to remodel your kitchen? If you live in San Mateo, you could have to pay the city 20 percent more in building permit fees, and you could have to pay it sooner.

Remodel your kitchen and “forget” to tell the city? You could pay more than twice what you do now.

But all in all, you will still be paying less than you might in most other cities.

Two weeks ago, The San Mateo City Council studied increasing building permit fees in three ways:
- Increasing building permit fees by 20 percent;
- Hiking permit service fees — the fees that cover the clerical part of the city’s work — from 0.22 percent of the new construction value to 0.48 percent;
- Raising the potential amount charged to people who begin building without first getting a permit from twice as much as regular permit fees to five times as much.

The proposal, which will be considered again at Monday’s City Council meeting, would also require the fees to be paid at the time that pre-application meetings begin, rather than after the formal application processes begin.

For example, a building permit for a typical $120,000 remodel or add-on to a house would currently cost about $9,966. If the City Council approves the fee hikes, that would increase to $11,539, according to a staff report by the city’s Building Division.

A $713,000 new construction would today be charged $32,900 in fees, but with the proposed increase would be charged $37,500.

Despite these increases, San Mateo’s permit fees will still be lower than those in most other cities. In 19 Bay Area cities surveyed by a San Mateo-hired analyst, San Mateo’s building fees ranked 14th. Of the nine Peninsula cities surveyed, San Mateo’s was sixth.

Building official Stephen Lau said the current charges don’t cover the city’s cost of inspecting buildings and processing their permits. He also noted that the number of permits requested has gone down substantially, though he said this did not directly cause a need to increase permit fees.

Higher costs

San Mateo is considering raising building-permit fees:

Fiscal year 2007
Building permits issued: 3,802    
Total building valuation: $124.2 million

Fiscal year 2008
Building permits issued: 2,803
Total building valuation:$99.8 million

Fiscal year 2009
Building permits issued: 2,565
Total building valuation:$86.6 million

Fiscal year 2010*
Building permits issued: 2,212
Total building valuation:$50.4 million

*As of April 30

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