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California Building Design License Requirements

I have been contacted recently by a number of out of state contractor and design firms looking for guidance on California's building design licensure requirements as they seek to cash in on California's recent surge in construction spending. Since the applicable statutes can be more than difficult to find, navigate and digest, I have prepared the following summary that should provide those interested with some quick answers.


California licensed architects may design any building of any type, except: structural portions of hospitals.

See Sections 5500.1 and 6737 of the Business & Professions Code and Section 129805 of the Health & Saftey Code.

Civil Engineers

California licensed civil engineers may design any building of any type, except: hospitals and schools.

See Sections 5537.5, 6731 and 6735 of the Business & Professions Code, Section 17302 of the Education Code and Section 129805 of the Health & Safety Code.

Structural Engineers

California licensed structural engineers may design any building of any type.

See Sections 5537.1, 6731 and 6736 of the Business & Professions Code.

Unlicensed Designers

Although there are a number of things that do not require a license to design, any design components that change or affect the safety of any building including, but not limited to, structural or seismic components, require a license to design.

Also, even if you are performing desing work that does not impact the saftey, seismic or strcutral components of a structure, most local building officials require plans, computations and specifications to be designed by an engineer or architect licensed by the state even if there is no specific law requiring such licensure.

See Sections 5537, 5538 and 6737.1 of the Business & Professions Code.

If you need help navigating California's Building Design License requirements, feel free to reach out directly to either or Deborah Cwalina for more information.  The experts in B&V's Construction Law Practice Group are here to help.

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