Construction and Design Standards
Restaurant owners in Berkeley must follow City regulations for construction and equipment in their kitchens. Hire a contractor to develop plans, submit to the City, and pass inspections.
The Construction Guide is available to any person intending to construct or remodel a food facility in Berkeley. It is intended to serve as a general overview of the requirements and should not be considered all inclusive.
Please contact the Division of Environmental Health at (510) 981-5310, if you require further information regarding your particular plan. If you would like to request a copy of the Construction Guide for Food Facilities, call (510) 981-5310 and TDD (510) 981-6903, or send an email to Environmental Health.
A separate construction guide for food facilities which handle only prepackaged food is also available upon request.
Clients should be aware that all construction work must conform to local building codes. Clients must obtain the necessary approvals from the local building and fire authorities prior to construction.
The Health and Safety Code (H&SC) requires that plans are reviewed for new or remodeled food and pool facilities by a Registered Environmental Health Specialist. Consultation occurs as part of the process to check the facility for code compliance. Many plan checks are conducted each year with the resulting construction inspection completed by Environmental Health staff prior to opening.
The City of Berkeley’s Planning Department oversees part of this process. Please submit plans and Plan Check Deposit to, or contact them at, the Permit Service Center.
The Planning Department will route this back to Environmental Health for approval.
Plan Check Fees
- A Plan Check fee must be paid at the time of Plan submittal. The fee is based upon square footage. Current information regarding fees are available by downloading the schedule of fees by service category or by contacting Environmental Health at (510) 981-5310.
- A remodel is any construction or alteration to an existing food facility. Remodeling also includes the installation of equipment or repairs to a food facility which alter its configuration or method of operation. Remodel does not include the following types of construction, which would be considered new construction:
- Installation of a food facility in a new structure, or in an empty building shell.
- Installation of a food facility in a former nonfood related facility, such as a shoe store, or into a former food facility from which all equipment and interior structures have been removed.
Plan Submittal Process
- Before constructing, enlarging, altering or converting any building for use as a food facility, two (2) sets of detailed plans and specifications must be submitted to the City of Berkeley Permit Service Center and routed to the Environmental Health Division for approval. Plans may be prepared by an architect, draftsman, contractor, or owner. All plans must be drawn in a professional manner encompassing all applicable requirements of this construction guide.
- After plans have been approved and stamped, one copy will be returned to the person submitting the plans and the second copy will be kept on file with the Environmental Health Division until construction has been completed. One of the two copies of approved plans that are returned must be kept on the jobsite until the Health Permit has been issued.
- Plans shall be drawn to scale, i.e., ¼" = 1’, using nonerasable ink or print (no pencil), and shall include:
- A site plan showing the proposed rubbish and food waste storage receptacle location.
- Complete floor plan with plumbing and electrical outlets and electrical panels.
- Remodel plans shall identify all proposed changes to existing structures, spaces, and equipment.
- Complete equipment layout, including elevations of equipment and equipment specifications.
- Complete exhaust ventilation plans, including make-up air. Indicate the type of comfort cooling in building, (e.g. "building is cooled by refrigerated air conditioning’, "evaporative cooling" or "no cooling system is installed").
- Finish schedule for walls, ceilings and floors that indicates the type of material, the surface finish, the color and the type of coved base at the floor/wall juncture. Samples of proposed finish materials should be submitted with the plans.
- A statement of the proposed customer seating capacity, when applicable.
- Location of the manager’s or chef’s office. Spaces such as change rooms or food storage cannot be used for office space.
- Plans that are incomplete, and plans that have a multitude of changes will require revisions before approval may be granted.
- If any changes to the approved plans are proposed, they must be reviewed and reapproved by the Environmental Health Division prior to being implemented.
- Approved materials and good workmanship are significant factors in the evaluation and final field approval of food facility construction and equipment installation.
- All equipment design, construction and installation is subject to approval by this Agency. Food-related and utensil-related equipment must meet or be equivalent to applicable ANSI certified sanitation standards, such as NSF International Food Service Equipment Standards.
Field Construction Inspections
Preliminary Construction Inspection
When construction finished work is approximately 75% to 80% completed, with plumbing, rough ventilation, and rough equipment installed, you must call the Environmental Health Plan Checker assigned to review your plans for a preliminary construction inspection. Requests should be made at least two (2) working days in advance. The preliminary inspection should be scheduled at least two weeks prior to the proposed opening of the food facility.
Final Construction Inspection
Upon completion of 100% of the construction, including all finishing work, you must call the Environmental Health Plan Checker assigned to review your plans to arrange for a final construction inspection. You will not be issued a Health permit until the facility passes a final inspection. Contact your Plan Checker at least two (2) working days in advance for an appointment for the final inspection. Final construction must be approved prior to opening for business or use of remodeled areas.
General Construction and Equipment Requirements
Download the Construction Guide for Food Facilities for details on what the plans need to show and specify.