Scope of Projects for DSA Plan Submittal by Construction Type

The following sets forth guidelines for describing the scope of a project on the Application for Approval of Plans and Specifications (form DSA-1). Each structure must be described separately in one of the categories listed (except for alterations projects where construction is similar for every building on the campus). DSA divides construction projects into the six basic types (Examples are given at the end of this document):

(See the DSA Publications or Forms pages for current versions of all cited documents.)

  • New Construction - New buildings (or structures) built from the ground up.
  • Additions - When new construction adds floor area (or covered area such as canopies or shade structures) that is attached to an existing building.
  • Alterations - Any construction that modifies an existing building or structure without adding new covered area. Modernizations, Upgrades, Modifications and other projects of this type are considered alterations by DSA. Note that Rehabilitation and Fire Reconstruction also meet the code definition of "Alterations"; however, these special categories are identified separately to facilitate special handling during DSA plan review and construction oversight.
  • Rehabilitation - Alterations to a non-school building, or to school buildings which do not conform to current code, to bring the building into compliance with current code requirements.
  • Fire Reconstruction - When a structure is to be rebuilt, either in whole or in part, after being damaged by fire, special rules apply.
  • Relocation - When relocatable buildings are moved from one location to another (even on the same school site).

New Construction

“New construction” refers to the construction of completely new buildings or structures.

New construction that is architecturally attached to an existing building should be considered an addition rather than new construction even though the new building is not attached structurally.

Buildings that are attached by walkway covers should be listed as separate buildings on the application form even though they may be structurally attached by the walkway cover.


Only additions to DSA-certified construction can be approved by DSA (see IR A-20). The load carrying capacity of the existing structure, or portions of such structures, may need to be upgraded to meet current code requirements when additions are made.

Note: Effective November 1, 2002, Section 4-308 of Title 24, Part 1 was changed to clarify that additions are subject to DSA review and approval regardless of cost (previously the code implied that additions were subject to cost limitation rules that apply to alterations projects). The code has been revised to coordinate with statutes on this issue.


Only alterations to DSA-certified construction can be approved by DSA unless alterations include rehabilitation work; see “Rehabilitation” below. All alterations are subject to DSA review and approval (see Jurisdiction of DSA for exceptions).


Alterations intended to bring an existing structure or site into compliance with current code requirements for schools. Special requirements for Rehabilitation projects are provided in Rehabilitation of Existing Non-Conforming Buildings for Public School and California Community College Use (archived 02/02/18; available on request for historical reference).

Fire Reconstruction

To allow fire-damaged school buildings to be brought back into service as soon as possible, regulations allow the existing DSA-approved building drawings to be re-approved for the construction even though the drawings may not conform to current code requirements. Fire damage repair may be completed using the approved plans and specifications for the original construction work. All construction shall comply with regulations and standards in effect at the time of the original project approval, except that the testing and inspection requirements of current regulations shall apply to the work. Minor modifications to the original approved plans may be made, subject to the approval of DSA, provided that these modifications do not reduce the structural capacity of the building.


DSA review and approval is required for any relocation of a building (including relocation to a new position on the same school site). Usually existing building plans can be approved by DSA for re-use at the new location. Relocation projects are generally reviewed over-the-counter (see Policy 07-02 for over the-counter review information).


The following examples are intended to help in classifying buildings and structures included in a project so that form DSA-1 will be completed in a consistent manner.

  • The construction of a new building containing classrooms, restrooms, a gymnasium and a kitchen may be described as, “CONSTRUCTION OF: New multi-purpose building.”
  • The repair of fire damage to a building containing the attendance office, principal’s office, and other administrative offices should be described as. “RECONSTRUCTION/REHABILITATION TO: Administration Building.”
  • The relocation of three portable classroom building may be described as “RELOCATION OF: Three Classroom Buildings (Relocatable).”
  • The addition of air-conditioning units and changes to restrooms in two classroom wings connected by covered walkways may be described as, “ALTERATIONS TO: two classroom buildings.” The precise nature of the alterations need not be described. Also, even though the two buildings are actually attached by a covered walkway they are still considered to be separate buildings. Finally, even though the air conditioning units are being added to the buildings, the scope is described as an alteration because the addition of the units does not add to the floor or roof area of the building.
  • An addition of two classrooms at the end of an existing classroom wing may be described as, “ADDITION TO: classroom” building. Even if the new addition is constructed so that it is structurally separated from the existing classroom wing, it may still be considered an addition if it is architecturally and functionally a part of the classroom wing. (Note that “ADDITION OF: two classrooms to one classroom building” is not an appropriate scope description.)
  • A new lunch shelter that is partially supported by an existing building but primarily self supporting should be described as, “CONSTRUCTION OF: new lunch shelter.” The fact that the lunch shelter is actually attached to an existing building would not make it an ‘addition.’ If the lunch shelter were primarily supported by the existing building it would be considered an addition.

When a project involves similar alterations to all buildings on a campus, the scope of work may be described in general terms. For example, installation of a new fire alarm system may be described as, “ALTERATIONS TO: ‘School Name’ (New Fire Alarm System).” (Note this is an exception to the rule that each building or structure must be listed separately on the application.)