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Everything You Need to Know About Building Permits in Los Angeles

A building permit is an approval that can be obtained from a local government agency that gives you or the contractor you’ve hired the ability to go forward with a remodeling or construction project on the property that you own.

Everything You Need to Know About Building Permits in Los Angeles infographic

It’s necessary to obtain a building permit to make sure that the plans for your project wholly comply with the local guidelines for construction, land use, and zoning. These standards are put into place to enforce land use and zoning policies while also making sure that any current and future residents of the property are safe.

While building permits are essential if you want to build or remodel a property in Los Angeles, the process of obtaining them is a lengthy one. If you want to better navigate this time-consuming process, real estate experts can help you obtain all of the necessary permits in Los Angeles while also expediting the process, which should allow you to get started on your project sooner than you anticipated.

This article offers an extensive guide on everything you need to know about building permits in Los Angeles.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Building Permit?

When you want to obtain a building permit for a remodeling project or new development, the process can take a long time to complete. Once you fill out your application, you should expect to receive a building permit within two weeks if you are working on a residential project. On the other hand, approval process for a commercial project can take upwards of four weeks. If the job is a relatively small one, it’s possible that your application could be approved the same day that you send it in. You will need to check with your local authorities to ascertain which projects have a quicker approval process.

Building Permit Requirements

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The requirements for obtaining a building permit in Los Angeles differ from county to county. When it comes to Los Angeles, the application that you fill out will require you to detail every facet of the project that you would like to develop, which includes when it’s going to take place, where it’s going to take place, how it’s going to be completed, and who is going to be developing the project. The main documentation that you will be required to submit with your application includes the plans and sketches of your work.

These plans will be received alongside your application to determine if your project follows local codes and requirements.

  • You can find out more about the process at this link or learn about the Los Angeles County codes here.
  • The online application for a building permit in Los Angeles County can be selected and filled out at this link.

How Do Building Permits Work?

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A building permit is a written approval provided by the city or county that gives you permission to build a project, which could be a remodeling project, the construction of a new home, or the development of a new commercial building.

The goal of a building permit is to make sure that your project complies with zoning, building, and construction code, most of which is aimed at keeping occupants safe. Keep in mind that not all development projects require a building code.

The ones that don’t include:

  • Repainting a house
  • Replacing kitchen appliances
  • Repaving a driveway
  • Adding a kitchen cabinet

The Building Permit Process

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The building permit process is a lengthy one that can differ by location. However, there are some general guidelines that should help prepare you for the process.

Before you complete and file the business permit application, you should contact the local public works office to describe the kind of project that you would like to develop. There’s a chance that you might not need to obtain a building permit, which is useful to know before you prepare an application. In the event that a permit is necessary, you’ll be provided with the proper application. Keep in mind that certain projects require at least two permits. If you’re conducting a sizable remodel on a home, additional permits may need to be obtained for plumbing and electrical.

Once you have the right application, your next step should be to prepare this application along with the documents that you need to file with it. Most construction projects require drawings of the type of work that you’re looking to complete. When the permit application has been correctly filled out, you will need to submit it along with any of the necessary fees.

It’s at this point that you’ll be provided with an official permit certificate. This certificate should be posted at the construction site once you begin work, which means that it should be taped to a window or door. At certain points throughout the project, you should contact an inspector to look at your worksite and review the work you’ve done. If any changes are needed, make them before requesting another review of your work. After total completion of the project, the inspector will review your work again and hopefully approve it, which means that you can take down the certificate.

When Is A Building Permit Needed?

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Not all projects require a building permit in California. As mentioned previously, smaller projects like repainting a kitchen or installing new cabinets don’t require permits. The necessity of a permit depends on the requirements of the local building code. Local building codes are different in each city and county and may reflect the issues in a specific region. For instance, the building code in Boston likely takes into account the cold weather that occurs during the winter.

A building permit is needed to make sure that everyone inside of the building is safe. It’s essential that you obtain a building permit for your project because the county could shut down your entire project and demolish the work that you’ve done.

The types of projects that require a building permit include:

  • Re-roofing a home
  • Demolishing a section of your home
  • Installing new piping in your home
  • Removing or adding walls
  • Room conversions

Average Cost of Building Permits

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The average cost for a building permit is $1,200, which was set by national guidelines. However, there are a few states that have their own pricing for building permits, which include Oregon, Idaho, and California.

California Costs

When you want to construct a new building or remodel a property in California, you will almost always need to obtain a permit. It’s important to note that California hasn’t set state guidelines for building permit pricing.

Instead, they allow each county to decide what the residents within will be required to pay. Even though the fees can differ, you can expect to pay anywhere from 5-18 percent of the total budget for your project on permit fees.

Oregon costs

The building permit guidelines in Oregon are much less strict when compared to California, which means that the fees they charge are dictated by the price of the project. If you are conducting a relatively small remodel, the fees for a building permit will also be small.

For instance, if a kitchen remodel is going to cost you $8,000, you can expect to pay around $240, which is equivalent to three percent of the project costs. Keep in mind that additional permits are required for electrical, mechanical, and plumbing work, the fees of which depend on the number of installations that are being performed.

Idaho Costs

The guidelines for a building permit in Idaho are similar to the ones in Oregon. In fact, they use the same model of setting fees based on the size of the project. However, the costs are usually lower. For instance, a remodeling project of $8,000 will come with building permit fees of $200, which is equivalent to 2.5 percent of the project costs.

Most counties throughout the state operate in the same way. However, a small number of counties may separate inspection fees, which would make your fees slightly higher. Standard inspection fees in Idaho are around $50 per hour.

Residential vs. Commercial Building Permit Cost

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While the building permits for residential and commercial buildings are similar to one another, there are some distinct differences that you should be aware of. The main difference to keep in mind is that developing a commercial building is typically more expensive than developing a residential one, which can play a part in how much you pay for a building permit in California.

Commercial buildings:

  • Are designed specifically to represent businesses
  • Come with costly and demanding inspection and permit fees
  • Come with stricter requirements and approval processes

Residential buildings:

  • Are designed to provide living spaces to individuals, couples, and families
  • Come with slightly lower inspection fees that depend on project location, the type of work being done, and county regulations
  • Come with an approval process and requirements that are less strict than commercial buildings and are taken on a case-by-case basis
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If you’re trying to develop or remodel a commercial building, the building permit that you apply for is the same one as a residential building. However, an additional valuation is performed to determine the amount of costs that you will be expected to pay. Along with the standard building permits costs, you will also be expected to pay anywhere from 1-5 percent of the value that the contract has, which can get costly.

Along with the higher valuation fees, obtaining a building permit for a commercial building means that you will need to pay high inspection fees to make sure that the building complies with state and local regulations.

For residential properties, the inspection fees are set by county rates and are usually contained within the building permit cost. If you want to be certain that you can afford these costs, make sure that you check with local authorities or seek assistance a professional real estate team.

The Bottom Line

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The purpose of a building permit is to make sure that your development plans meet all of the local guidelines for zoning, construction, and land use. These guidelines are designed to ensure the durability of the building and the safety of the individuals within. It’s necessary to obtain a building permit because you typically won’t be allowed to develop a construction or remodeling project unless you do.

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