California public K–12 schools, community colleges, and essential services buildings projects must be certified through the Division of the State Architect (DSA). Project certification consists of examination of specific project files for documents required to be submitted before, during and after construction, and to determine if outstanding issues have been resolved. Project Inspectors, design professionals, and districts all have a part in ensuring compliance.

Ensuring projects are certified is critical because certification provides a method to report the safety of school construction, school board members may be personally liable for projects until certified, and DSA will be unable to approve new proposed projects associated with uncertified construction (see IR A-20: New Projects Associated with Existing Uncertified Projects for in-depth discussion).

Meeting the certification requirements was made easier for new projects by starting the documentation process early. DSA's "Certification Starts When Construction Begins" informational sheets (linked below) outline the certification process as well as the roles and benefits of the process to project inspectors, design professionals, and school districts.

The following certification process information applies to new and existing structures/projects. For more information about the process, visit the Project Certification for School, Essential Services Construction Projects webpage.

The traditional method of certification for new structures is simple for projects with all verified reports available, all fees paid, and no outstanding issues. For more information about this method, read DSA procedures PR 13-01: Construction Oversight Process and  PR 13-02: Project Certification Process.

Once the certification requirements are met, a DSA letter certifying that the building project has been completed in accordance with the requirements as to the safety of design and construction pursuant to the respective statutory requirements will be sent to the design professional and client (school or essential services facility representative).

Proof of Project Certification:

  • Copy of DSA certification letter.
  • Copy of DSA history card showing certification.
  • DSA Tracker shows project is certified.

For further information on requirements for each method of certification, please contact your respective DSA regional office or read DSA’s Project Certification Guide.

Traditional or Method

This method of certification is simple for projects with all verified reports available, all fees paid, and no outstanding issues. For more information about this method, read DSA procedure PR 13-02: Project Certification Process.

Alternate Process Type A

For projects missing required reports due to incapacitating illness, death, or default of any person required to file such reports, a verified report from the project inspector may be reasonable and sufficient evidence that the project was constructed in essential compliance with the approved construction documents.

Alternate Process Type B

Alternate Process Type B is intended to be used when a verified report from the project inspector, as described above in Alternate Process Type A, was not submitted to DSA due to the incapacitating illness, death, or default of the project inspector.

Alternate Process Type C

Alternate Process Type C is applicable to one-story relocatable buildings of not more than 2,160 square feet, which were constructed in a manufacturer’s plant. This alternate process addresses only the construction of the building's superstructure and is not applicable to the construction to place the building on a site. For the construction placing the building at the site, another alternate process must be used.

Alternate Process Type D

Alternate Process Type D is for projects not likely to be certified using Process Types A, B or C and special consideration is required for resolution that is beyond the intent of this guide. These types of projects could include projects constructed without DSA approval.

Alternate Process Type E

Alternate Process E is the A/E Certification Program and is intended to be used for those projects that are missing the project inspector’s verified report or cannot be certified by other means. When a school building, constructed in accordance with approved plans and specifications, is completed but final verified reports have not been submitted due to incapacitating illness, death, or the default of any persons required to file such reports, then the school district can make a written request to DSA to review all the project records and make such examinations as it deems necessary. DSA may request the school district to cause any other tests and/or inspections which DSA deems necessary to complete its examinations of the construction.

Rehabilitation of Nonconforming Buildings for School Use

A project can be submitted to DSA as a “rehabilitation of nonconforming building for school use” to address certification issues. This option requires a meeting with DSA prior to submittal and has specific submittal and design criteria.

Contact US


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