A permit is a type of approval that you need to receive when constructing a new home or building an addition for an existing home. In Los Angeles, the LA Department of Building and Safety can provide you with the building permit that you require. Once they do, this permit will act as a legal document that certifies that the project meets all of the local building codes. Keep in mind that this document is approved or denied based on the building plans and specifications that you provide. Throughout the project, you are still required to obtain inspections on the work that you do, which ensures that the work matches the building plans.
The kinds of properties that require building permits include:
- New construction
- Changing the roof on an existing home
- Room conversions
- Tearing down a section of a home
- Adding or removing walls
- Placing new piping throughout the home
On the other hand, building permits aren’t required for minor projects like repainting a home, installing a new kitchen cabinet, or replacing appliances around the kitchen. When you apply for any kind of building permit, you will need to provide LADBS with your building plans as well as some other documentation. While the approval process should be completed in 2-4 weeks, it can take longer in the event that issues arise with your building plans or with the application itself. In this case, it’s important to have access to a permit expediter who can help speed up this process and make sure that any issues are dealt with immediately.
Among the more beneficial additions that can be made to a home is the construction of a storage shed on the property. If you’ve never had a storage shed before, these sheds can provide you with numerous benefits. For instance, any excess clutter in your home or garage can be placed in the shed. Once you’re finished with your holiday decorations, they can be placed in the shed until you need them again. If you have children, a shed is also a great place to keep fertilizers, weed killers, and other chemicals that you don’t want your children to have easy access to. Finally, sheds also add curb appeal to a home and can increase its value.
This article will talk more about the permit requirements that are needed for constructing a storage shed in LA County.
What Size Shed Can I Build Without a Permit?
Storage sheds are in a somewhat gray area when it comes to permitting requirements in LA County. While some storage sheds don’t require permits before construction begins, others do. If you want to be able to build a storage shed on your property without going through the building permit process, it’s important that the floor area doesn’t go further than 120 square feet, that the height isn’t more than 12 feet, and that the roof projection isn’t over 24 inches.
If your shed falls below all of these specifications, you will be able to construct a shed without first receiving a permit. These buildings can be used as playhouses, tool sheds, or storage sheds without changing the permit requirements. Even if your storage shed doesn’t exceed any of the specifications mentioned previously, it’s important to understand that a permit will be needed if you have specific equipment installed in the shed.
Permit Requirements for Sheds
Before you get started on constructing a shed, it’s important that you consider when a permit requirement may be needed. The instances when a permit is required for a shed in LA County include:
- When installing electrical equipment
- When installing plumbing
- When installing mechanical equipment
- When the floor areas is larger than 120 square feet
- When the height is larger than 12 feet
- When the roof projection is larger than 24 inches
- When zoning requirements call for a building permit to be obtained, which depends on the exact region you live in
With the height and floor size requirements, it should be easy to remain under these amounts if you want to avoid applying for a building permit. As for the other instances when a permit is required, all buildings that are made in LA County require additional permits for electrical, plumbing, or mechanical equipment. If you want to use the building as a living space, you will likely need to obtain a permit as well as an inspection. When looking specifically at zoning requirements, some local building codes dictate that a shed must be built a certain distance away from property lines, fences, other buildings, and trees.
If you live in a neighborhood that’s regulated by an HOA, they may have their own guidelines about constructing outdoor buildings on a property. In the event that the shed you construct doesn’t meet the local building code or has been built without a permit when a permit is required, the shed could be demolished. It’s also possible that you would be required to pay fees for building the shed in the first place. Now that you understand local guidelines and restrictions when it comes to building a shed on your property, you should be able to avoid making a mistake.
Where Do I Obtain a Permit for the Shed?
There are several different types of permits that you can obtain when you want to build a shed on your property. All of these permits can be obtained through the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. If the shed requires a permit because of the addition of electrical, plumbing, or mechanical equipment to the building, you can look at applying for an express permit, which can be done at this link. A great aspect of applying for an express permit is that this is the sole LADBS permit that can be applied for online, which makes for a very simple and straightforward process.
If you require a permit for the shed because it’s larger than the max floor space or max-height mentioned previously, you may need to apply for a counter plan check, which is a simple type of permit that only takes 45-60 minutes to review. You can find out more about this specific permit at this link. Unlike the express permit, the counterplan check can only be applied for at one of the LADBS offices. The exact offices that accept counter plan check permits include the Metro, West LA, and Van Nuys offices.
If you need to obtain a permit for your shed, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50-$2,000 depending on the exact specifications of your shed and the type of equipment that’s being added to it. The applications for both the express permit and counter plan check are simple, which means that they can be filled out and submitted within 30 minutes. If you apply for an express permit, the permit will be issued immediately after the application has been submitted. As for the counter plan check, it can take anywhere from 45-60 minutes for the application to be reviewed and approved, which is much less than what it takes to receive most other building permits.
Is This Different From a Building Permit?
A building permit is a kind of written approval that can be provided to developers and property owners for the purpose of constructing a building or performing a large remodeling project. When a developer receives this approval, they can be confident that the intended project complies with all zoning, construction, and building code in the area.
In most cases, building permits and permits for sheds are the same thing. However, there are times when you may require a different type of permit that doesn’t provide the same kind of approval as a building permit does. If you’re adding an HVAC system to the shed, you will need to obtain an HVAC permit. Standard permits are also necessary when installing electrical or plumbing equipment into the shed. Whether you seek an electrical permit or an HVAC permit, the only difference between these permits and building permits is that building permits encompass many different aspects of a construction project.
Permits for sheds are still important and sometimes necessary to make sure that the building meets all of the local codes once it has been constructed. As long as the shed is smaller than the dimensions and specifications mentioned previously, you may be able to avoid the permit process altogether. On the other hand, the creation of a larger shed or the installation of certain equipment may require a permit to make sure that the building is safe to enter for yourself and anyone else in your household.
As mentioned previously, anyone who doesn’t obtain a permit for a shed when a permit is required will be subject to certain penalties. No matter the issue with your property, it’s very likely that you will receive a fine. It’s also possible that the shed would be demolished entirely or would need to be moved to a different location on your property, both of which would be costly endeavors. If you stick to the requirements mentioned previously, you should be able to avoid any of these penalties.
Jason Somers, President & Founder of Crest Real Estate
With over 15 years of professional experience in the Los Angeles luxury real estate market, Jason Somers has the background, judgement and track record to provide an unparalleled level of real estate services. His widespread knowledge helps clients identify and acquire income producing properties and value-ad development opportunities.