Permits at Hand

Browse Building Permits on a Phone

Permits at Hand is a phone app for searching and browsing building permits which have been issued by communities in Marin County, California. Most communities are supported. Now with version 3 all the latest permits issued in a community can be viewed at any time.

The app — for Apple and Android devices — makes public data more conveniently accessible. As well as the latest permits in the community, you can see all the permits issued for any property in the supported communities, using either a Google map to select the property, or a search engine to find the property by its address.

Download on the App Store
Get it on Google Play

More on this page:
Walk through the app
What can the app do?
Who will find it useful?
Release history

Walk through the app

See all the building permits that have been issued for the property at a selected address. The most recently-issued permits come first. Tap on a permit to see details.

For any building permit, browse all the public data created by the building department when the permit was issued. The data includes a description, dates and, in some jurisdictions, attachments which often include plans. There also may be records of inspections that may have been done as the work progresses.

Permit data is available for most communities in Marin County. Choose the community from the drop-down menu in the title bar. A few communities don’t make their permit data available online, and the app does not support these.

After choosing a community, you can choose a property, either from the map or by a search. Using the map, tap on a property marker (grey dot) to select that address. An information card appears with a button to access the permits for the selected address.

As an alternative to using the map, you can search for an address using smart auto-completion. Just type the first few characters, starting with the number, and choose from the matching addresses. The property at that address will be selected on the map.
The search uses smart auto-completion: typing “4 th” in San Rafael finds both “4 Thomas Ct” and “4 3rd St” (because that matches “4 Third St”!).

Now with version 3 you can see all the latest permits issued for addresses in your chosen community. The list is updated when you open it, and you can swipe down to refresh it again. It always shows at least 100 permits, or 30 days-worth if that is more. (Larger towns in Marin issue hundreds of permits a month). The list includes permits issued by the town, if it has its own building department, and by Marin County.

What can the app do?

With this app you can:

  • Find all the building permits that have been issued for a selected address.
  • See detail for every permit, including status, plans, inspection reports and other attachments, as well as issue date, owner and contractor names and all other public data.
  • Select an address using a map. Using the “my location” feature, select any property near you.
  • Search by address, using auto-complete for easy typing.
  • See all the latest permits issued for properties in a community.

Who will find it useful?

Check on the permits issued for your property, or get background information on construction activity in your neighborhood.

Prospective buyers:
See the permits for work that has been done on a house you are considering.

Real estate professionals and contractors:
Enjoy the convenience of viewing permits on your phone.

Release History

Version 3.1.1 improves the listings of permits for Sausalito by including projects, which in that town are quite similar to ordinary permits. Projects will show up in the “Latest” list, and under a “Projects” button in the list of permits for a specific property. Several bugs have also been fixed, and some improvements to the user interface are included.

Version 3.1.0 extends the new Latest Permits feature with support for Belvedere CA, and a fix for an issue with Greenbrae. The progress indicator on the Latest Permits page has been fixed, the drop-down menu for choosing a community now looks better, and and the size of the property markers on the map has been adjusted.

Version 3.0.0. Latest Permits, a new feature in version 3, is a list of the building permits most recently issued in your selected community (available for most communities; more will be added in future releases). At least 100 permits are shown, or 30 days-worth if that is more. The list is refreshed when it is opened, or you can drag down to refresh, so it is always up to date. Several bugs have also been fixed in this version, and you’ll see some user interface improvements.

Version 2.1.2 has improved performance, and fixes a bug that could result in erroneous “No Permits Found” messages on a device operating on a data plan other than WiFi.

Version 2.1.1 fixes a bug that resulted in the permits for certain properties in Mill Valley not being listed, if one of them lacked an “issued” date.

Version 2.1.0 is faster, and now can view building permits issued by Belvedere, as well as most of the other communities in Marin County, CA. The speed increase is most noticeable for the larger communities, such as San Rafael and Novato. Several small bugs and glitches have been fixed as well.

Version 2.0.0 With this first release of v2 we now support most communities in Marin County, CA! Not just San Rafael but now also Novato, Mill Valley, Sausalito, San Anselmo and many others, including all the unincorporated towns and villages. As before, all the building permits for any property in these communities can be viewed, with all available detail. Finding the permits is faster, too! We now automatically detect which jurisdiction issues permits for a property. There are many other minor improvements and bug fixes.

Version 1.1.1 Improvements include better fuzzy search for addresses, in particular numeric street names (first/1st), as well as better messages when an error occurs, and bug fixes.

Version 1.1.0 With this upgrade you can search permits issued for properties in San Rafael by Marin County as well as the City of San Rafael. The County has jurisdiction for properties in unincorporated areas of San Rafael. Both the City and the County are automatically searched for a given property.

Version 1.0.0 The first published version of Permits at Hand gives users convenient access to building permit data on a smartphone. Permits issued by the City of San Rafael for any property in their jurisdiction [can be found] by a combination of map-based navigation and/or address search.