What You Should Know About the SF 3R Report

The 3R report is issued by the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (DBI) and provides a building permit history for a San Francisco property. It is a required disclosure for almost every purchase/sale transaction in San Francisco, with the exception of brand new construction, in which case the CFC (certificate of final completion/certificate of occupancy) usually fills in.

// This post is a part of our series: Your Guide to a San Francisco Disclosure Package. //

The SF 3R report is a *property specific* disclosure. Read it as soon as it is available, even if the city doesn’t stand behind the information it provides.

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A 3R Report issued by the SF DBI

The 3R report is a report of residential record, and it contains information about original and current use, as well as a list of building permits and their status (I = issued, N = no job card found, X = permit expired (work not started or not completed, C = completed). Here’s a handy explanation of terms used in the 3R Report by DBI. It is important to note that the 3R only contains a record of building permits. It does not include plumbing or electrical permit information.

SF DBI has an online portal where you can view a lot of property information online. The DBI website allows you to view building, electrical, and plumbing permits that have been issued since the mid-1980’s (roughly), but does not include any permits older than that. Because the city is incredibly slow at processing 3R requests (inefficient or understaffed, depending on who you ask), it can often be helpful to look up a property online. But be aware that the online record history is not complete.

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The boilerplate warning about inaccuracies in the 3R

The 3R report comes with a warning document that doesn’t inspire much confidence in DBI. Even though the report costs $165 (as of August 2014) and is mandated by city law, the building department has no obligation to get anything on the 3R report correct. In addition, DBI does not warrant the data that they do provide, and as the warning document says:

“Buyers of residential real property in San Francisco should never rely on information contained in 3-R Reports.”


In a perfect world, the 3R would provide a buyer with an accurate and complete permit history (so that buyers can understand what work was done with or without permit), as well as accurate information about the current use (it matters for unit buildings that want to condo convert, to name just one example) of the property. But our world is far from perfect – we have a variety of strategies for helping deal with 3R issues and the questions the document generates, we hope this overview gives you a better understanding of this important disclosure document.


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