Skylight Permit Requirements
The on-line skylight permit is available for properties in Sunnyvale with a residential zoning district when the installation will not cut any structural framing members (i.e. roof rafters or ceiling joists). Zoning district information is available on-line by clicking on E-Zoning.

If a permit is not available on-line, the permit can be obtained at the One-Stop Permit Center, City Hall, 456 W. Olive Avenue between the hours of 8:00 am to 12:00 pm Monday through Friday.

A building permit is required for the installation or replacement of a skylight including solar tubes. Permits are required prior to installation or replacement such items.

Following is a listing of the general requirements for skylights based on the 2016 California Building Code, 2016 California Residential Code, 2016 California Plumbing Code, and 2016 California Energy Efficiency Standards. This brochure is intended to provide general information, contact the Building Safety Division for any questions or additional information.

Installation Standards (CBC 102.4 and CRC R102.4)
Skylights shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements (including new flashing).

Efficiency Standards(CEES 150.2(b))
When replacing an existing skylight, the newly installed skylight shall have a maximum U-factor of 0.55 and a maximum Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of 0.30. Newly installed skylights shall meet the following efficiency ratings based on the cumulative area:
Cumulative Area of
Installed Skylights
U-Factor SHGC
≤16 square feet 0.55 maximum 0.30 maximum
>16 square feet 0.32 maximum 0.25 maximum

Tubular skylights with a maximum of 3 square feet in area and containing dual-panel diffusers are not required to meet U-factor and SHGC values.

Located Near Fire-Rated Walls (CBC 2610.7)
Where openings in exterior/common walls are required to be of fire-rated construction (typically for condominiums/apartment, shared walls of townhouses, and single-family/duplex building less than 5 feet to the property line) skylights shall be a minimum of 6 feet from the wall.

Roof Slope (CBC 2610.2, CRC R308.6.8)
Skylights installed on a roof slope of less than 3:12 (25%), the skylight shall be mounted on a curb a minimum of 4 inches above the roof (unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer).

Distance to Roof-Top Vents (CPC 906.2)
Operable skylights shall be located a minimum of 10 feet from all plumbing vents or the vent shall terminate 3 feet above the skylight. Operable skylights shall be a minimum of 3 feet from any environmental air vent (i.e. stove hood, bathroom fan, etc.)

Distance Between Skylights (CBC 2610.6)
In apartments and condominiums, plastic skylights shall be a minimum of 4 feet from each other, unless:
  • the skylights are located within the same room or space and the maximum area of the skylights is 100 square feet (measured within the curb), or
  • the building is equipped throughout with an automatic fire sprinkler system.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms (CBC 907.2.11, CRC 314 and 315)
Smoke alarms shall be installed on the ceiling or wall (between 4” and 12” of the ceiling) in all sleeping rooms, each area/hallway adjacent to sleeping rooms, each story of the building, and in any basement. Smoke alarms shall be replaced 10 years after the date of manufacture listed on the alarm (if no date is listed the alarm shall be replaced). Newly installed smoke alarms shall have a 10-year battery.

Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms shall be installed on the ceiling or wall (above the door header) in each area/hallway adjacent to sleeping rooms, each occupiable story, and within a bedroom if the bedroom or attached bathroom contains a fuel-burning appliance. CO alarms are not required if there is no fuel-burning appliance or fireplace in the house and where the garage is detached from the house.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are required to be listed by the California State Fire Marshal. To confirm if a certain device is listed, refer to the following web page:

The Skylight Permit is NOT available on-line if you are:
  • Cutting structural framing members (i.e. roof rafters or ceiling joists) for the skylight installation.
If the condition above applies, the permit shall be issued at the One-Stop Permit Center, City Hall, 456 W Olive Avenue. Specific process information is available at the Building Division web site.

  • Two inspections are required. The first inspection is a rough framing inspection where the skylight is installed and the framing is still exposed. A final inspection should be scheduled after all the work is completed.
Contact Building Division
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