Construction plans for K-12 public school and community college construction, and certain other state-funded building projects are reviewed to ensure that plans, specifications, and construction comply with California's codes (Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations).

For information on how to submit a project, see the Start a Construction Project by Submitting Plans for Review webpage.

To continue learning about DSA plan review and oversight, visit the following pages:

Project Submittal

Projects must be completely designed and coordinated before being submitted to DSA for review.

State law requires that an appropriately licensed architect or engineer prepare drawings and specifications for all school construction projects. This individual is called the “Design Professional in General Responsible Charge” (A/E of Record). They are responsible for coordinating all consultants, observing construction, interpreting the drawings and specifications, administering required testing and inspection processes, and preparing all change directives.

In most cases, only California Licensed architects or structural engineers may act as the A/E of Record of a school construction project. Licensed civil engineers, for example, are not permitted to act in this capacity. Licensed mechanical and electrical engineers may serve as the A/E of Record for projects that are primarily limited to mechanical or electrical alterations respectively. 

Work Requiring DSA Review

  • DSA is required, by the Field Act, to review construction for California public schools (grades K–12) and Community Colleges, and to verify that construction meets the requirements of the Title 24 Building Standards regulations.
  • Some projects, however, do not require DSA review. Such exceptions are explained in DSA IR A-10, IR A-22, and IR 11-B6.
  • Per Government Code section 4450-4453, DSA does review other state funded construction projects for Access Compliance.

Note that projects must comply with all code requirements whether reviewed by DSA or not.

Access Only Projects

There are many situations where a project is submitted to DSA and it is only reviewed for Access Compliance. This happens when a client is only making non-structural changes that affect accessibility, or when the client is not required to come to DSA for project review and approval, but must still obtain DSA approval for the Access Compliance portion of the project. In an Access Only project review, Access Compliance is the only discipline that reviews the project.

Pre-Check (PC)

The PC (pre-check) program provides for DSA approval of a manufacturer’s relocatable or modular building design plans that may be incorporated by school districts in preparation of a site-specific project.

The PC program provides for DSA approval of the design of a structure in advance of submittal for construction. The PC approval process can be used for modular buildings, shade structures, light standards (poles), structures supporting solar components, and other structures where the approved design may be used on multiple campuses or projects. Once the PC documents are approved, they can be submitted with site-specific drawings. DSA’s approval of a site-specific project is then expedited, because the part of the project that is PC-approved was already reviewed.

  • PC approval is one prerequisite for “over the-counter” (OTC) review; see PL 07-02 for additional OTC requirements.
  • For information regarding the PC approval process, see PR 07-01.
  • Report: DSA List of Approved PCs (XLS) Updated April 2019

Scope of Projects for DSA Plan Submittal by Construction Type

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.

Additions

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.

Alterations

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).

Rehabilitation

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.

Relocation

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 PL 07-02 for over the-counter review information).

Examples: 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.)

You may request a meeting prior to submitting a project to DSA. A pre-application meeting is not intended to be a preliminary review. The intent is for DSA staff to provide answers and clarification to specific questions from applicants regarding DSA procedures, code interpretations, unique site or geological conditions, new or untested structural systems or materials, unique structural applications, project schedules, or other concerns. To allow DSA to properly prepare staff for the meeting and answer questions as accurately as possible, we require that you complete a request form for the respective office of the region the project is located:

Plan/Field Review Fee Calculator

The Plan/Field Review Fee Calculator tool allows you to calculate DSA's plan/field review fees for school and public building construction projects

  • What "Construction Cost" Is: Both estimated and actual costs of the project reflect the total outlay for all work included in the approved plans and specifications (exclusive of fees paid but not recovered for architectural, engineering, inspection and testing services), regardless of whether the funds are provided by the school district, by other public or private agencies or by individuals. The cost includes any moving or relocation expenses. In the event a building is converted to school use (addressed in Title 24, Part 1, Section 4-306), the cost includes the current replacement cost of the building.
  • How Revisions of Plans and Specifications Affect Fees: No additional fee is charged for revisions to the approved plans and specifications, provided the revisions are to the same school building and do not require substantial checking for safety of design. If the original plans are abandoned and the plans and specifications submitted as revisions are for a new project, or they reflect a different structural concept from the original approved plans, it is necessary that a new application is filed and fee paid.
  • Structural Safety Review Fees: The following information is based on California Education Code Sections 17300 and 81133, and the California Administrative Code - Part 1, Title 24, California Code of Regulations, Article 4, Sections 4-320 through 4-325.

How Fees are Calculated

Structural Safety

The following information is based on California Education Code Sections 17300 and 81133, and the California Administrative Code - Part 1, Title 24, California Code of Regulations, Article 4, Sections 4-320 through 4-325.

The filing fee effects projects with intended submittal dates prior to March 1, 2019.

  • 1.25% of the first $1,000,000 of estimated construction costs,
  • plus 1.0 percent on the excess of the estimated cost over $1,000,000.
  • The minimum fee is $250.

The filing fee effects projects with intended submittal dates on or after March 1, 2019:

  • 0.85% of the first $1,000,000 of the estimated project costs,
  • plus 0.6% of the project cost greater than $1,000,000.
  • The minimum fee is $250.

Fire & Life Safety Review Fees

The filing fee for project applications shall be:

  • 0.3% of the first $1,000,000 of the estimated project cost,
  • plus 0.2% of the project cost greater than $1,000,000 up to and including $5,000,000,
  • plus 0.1% of the project cost greater than $5,000,000 up to and including $25,000,000,
  • plus 0.05% of the project cost greater than $25,000,000 up to and including $100,000,000,
  • plus 0.01% of the project cost above $100,000,000.
  • The minimum fee in any case shall be $300.

Access Compliance Review Fees

The following information is from BU 13-05: Access Compliance Fee Schedule Change (PDF) which modifies the Access Compliance filing fees indicated in the California Administrative Code – California Code of Regulations, Title 24, Part 1, Article 1, Sections 5-104 through 5-109.

The Access Compliance filing fee for projects shall be:

  • 0.5% of the first $500,000 of estimated project cost,
  • plus 0.25% of the project cost greater than $500,000 up to and including $2,000,000,
  • plus 0.1% of the project cost greater than $2,000,000 up to and including $25,000,000,
  • plus 0.08% of the project cost greater than $25,000,000 up to and including $50,000,000,
  • plus 0.06% of the project cost greater than $50,000,000 up to and including $100,000,000,
  • plus 0.04% of the project cost greater than $100,000,000.
  • The minimum fee in any case shall be $500.

Sample Fee Calculations

Calculation for review of Structural Safety for projects submitted on or after March 1, 2019:

Estimated Construction Cost

Calculations

Final Filing Fee

$8,000

0.85% X $8,000 = $68.00

$250.00
(Minimum Charge)

$925,000.00

0.85% X $925,000 = $7,862.50

$7,862.50

$5,000,000.00

0.85% X $1,000,000 = $8,500.00
 0.6% X $4,000,000 = $24,000.00

$32,500.00

 

Calculation for review of Structural Safety for projects submitted prior to March 1, 2019:

Estimated Construction Cost

Calculations

Final Filing Fee

$8,000

1.25% X $8,000 = $100.00

$250.00
(Minimum Charge)

$925,000.00

1.25% X $925,000 = $11,562.50

$11,562.50

$5,000,000.00

1.25% X $1,000,000 = $12,500.00
1.0% X $4,000,000 = $40,000.00

$52,500.00

 

Calculation for review of Fire & Life Safety:

Estimated Project Cost

Calculations

Filing Fee

$40,000

0.3% X $40,000 = $120.00

$300.00
(Minimum Charge)

$925,000

0.3% X $925,000 = $2,775.00

$2,775.00

$3,840,000

0.3% X $1,000,000 = $3,000.00
0.2% X $2,840,000 = $5,680.00

$8,680.00

$7,260,000

0.3% X $1,000,000 = $3,000.00
0.2% X $4,000,000 = $8,000.00
0.1% X $2,260,000 = $2,260.00

$13,260.00

$26,500,000

0.3% X $1,000,000 = $3,000.00
0.2% X $4,000,000 = $8,000.00
0.1% X $20,000,000 = $20,000.00
0.05% X $1,500,000 = $750.00

$31,750.00

Calculation for review of Access Compliance:

Estimated Project Cost

Calculations

Filing Fee

$40,000

0.5% X $40,000 = $200.00

$500.00
(Minimum Charge)

$250,000

0.5% X $250,000 = $1,250.00

$1,250.00

$1,650,000

0.5% X $500,000 = $2,500.00
0.25% X $1,150,000 = $2,875.00

$5,375.00

$5,000,000

0.5% X $500,000 = $2,500.00
0.25% X $1,500,000 = $3,750.00
0.1% X $3,000,000 = $3,000.00

$9,250.00

$41,000,000

0.5% X $500,000 = $2,500.00
0.25% X $1,500,000 = $3,750.00
0.1% X $23,000,000 = $23,000.00
0.08% X $16,000,000 = $12,800.00

$42,050.00

$72,000,000

0.5% X $500,000 = $2,500.00
0.25% X $1,500,000 = $3,750.00
0.1% X $23,000,000 = $23,000.00
0.08% X $25,000,000 = $20,000.00
0.06% X $22,000,000 = $13,200.00

$62,450.00

$130,000,000

0.5% X $500,000 = $2,500.00
0.25% X $1,500,000 = $3,750.00
0.1% X $23,000,000 = $23,000.00
0.08% X $25,000,000 = $20,000.00
0.06% X $50,000,000 = $30,000.00
0.04% X $30,000,000 = $12,000.00

$91,250.00

 

Contact US

DIVISION OF THE STATE ARCHITECT REGIONAL OFFICES


DSA Sacramento Regional Office
1102 Q Street, Suite 5200
Sacramento, CA  95811
(916) 445-8730

DSA Oakland Regional Office
1515 Clay Street, Suite 1201
Oakland, CA  94612
(510) 622-3101

DSA Los Angeles Basin Regional Office
700 N. Alameda Street, Suite 5-500
Los Angeles, CA  90012
(213) 897-3995

DSA San Diego Regional Office
10920 Via Frontera, Suite 300
San Diego, CA  92127
(858) 674-5400