The building department of every city or county shall
maintain an official copy, which may be on microfilm or other type of
photographic copy, of the plans of every building, during the life
of the building, for which the department issued a building permit.
"Building department" means the department, bureau, or officer
charged with the enforcement of laws or ordinances regulating the
erection, construction, or alteration of buildings.
Except for plans of a common interest development as defined in
Section 4100 or 6534 of the Civil Code, plans need not be filed for:
(a) Single or multiple dwellings not more than two stories and
basement in height.
(b) Garages and other structures appurtenant to buildings
described under subdivision (a).
(c) Farm or ranch buildings.
(d) Any one-story building where the span between bearing walls
does not exceed 25 feet. The exemption in this subdivision does not,
however, apply to a steel frame or concrete building.
(a) The official copy of the plans maintained by the
building department of the city or county provided for under Section
19850 shall be open for inspection only on the premises of the
building department as a public record. The copy may not be
duplicated in whole or in part except (1) with the written
permission, which permission shall not be unreasonably withheld as
specified in subdivision (f), of the certified, licensed or
registered professional or his or her successor, if any, who signed
the original documents and the written permission of the original or
current owner of the building, or, if the building is part of a
common interest development, with the written permission of the board
of directors or governing body of the association established to
manage the common interest development, or (2) by order of a proper
court or upon the request of any state agency.
(b) Any building department of a city or county, which is
requested to duplicate the official copy of the plans maintained by
the building department, shall request written permission to do so
from the certified, licensed, or registered professional, or his or
her successor, if any, who signed the original documents and from (1)
the original or current owner of the building or (2), if the
building is part of a common interest development, from the board of
directors or other governing body of the association established to
manage the common interest development.
(c) The building department shall also furnish the form of an
affidavit to be completed and signed by the person requesting to
duplicate the official copy of the plans, which contains provisions
stating all of the following:
(1) That the copy of the plans shall only be used for the
maintenance, operation, and use of the building.
(2) That drawings are instruments of professional service and are
incomplete without the interpretation of the certified, licensed, or
registered professional of record.
(3) That subdivision (a) of Section 5536.25 of the Business and
Professions Code states that a licensed architect who signs plans,
specifications, reports, or documents shall not be responsible for
damage caused by subsequent changes to, or use of, those plans,
specifications, reports, or documents where the subsequent changes or
uses, including changes or uses made by state or local governmental
agencies, are not authorized or approved by the licensed architect
who originally signed the plans, specifications, reports, or
documents, provided that the architectural service rendered by the
architect who signed the plans, specifications, reports, or documents
was not also a proximate cause of the damage.
(d) The request by the building department to a licensed,
registered, or certified professional may be made by the building
department sending a registered or certified letter to the licensed,
registered, or certified professional requesting his or her
permission to duplicate the official copy of the plans and sending
with the registered or certified letter, a copy of the affidavit
furnished by the building department which has been completed and
signed by the person requesting to duplicate the official copy of the
plans. The registered or certified letters shall be sent by the
building department to the most recent address of the licensed,
registered, or certified professional available from the California
State Board of Architectural Examiners.
(e) The governing body of the city or county may establish a fee
to be paid by any person who requests the building department of the
city or county to duplicate the official copy of any plans pursuant
to this section, in an amount which it determines is reasonably
necessary to cover the costs of the building department pursuant to
(f) The certified, licensed, or registered professional's refusal
to permit the duplication of the plans is unreasonable if, upon
request from the building department, the professional does either of
(1) Fails to respond to the local building department within 30
days of receipt by the professional of the request. However, if the
building department determines that professional is unavailable to
respond within 30 days of receipt of the request due to serious
illness, travel, or other extenuating circumstances, the time period
shall be extended by the building department to allow the
professional adequate time to respond, as determined to be
appropriate to the individual circumstance, but not to exceed 60
(2) Refuses to give his or her permission for the duplication of
the plans after receiving the signed affidavit and registered or
certified letter specified in subdivisions (c) and (d).