If you own a piece of land that you’d like to develop on, there are some basic guidelines that you will need to follow if you want to demolish a house before development can begin. Even though you own the land, larger projects invariably come with relatively strict requirements that you must adhere to if you want to avoid being fined.
Demolitions are common when making way for new developments. There are also many different reasons why developers choose to demolish a house. If the building is old and falling apart, demolishing the house instead of renovating it may be the more effective method for adding value to the property.
Another reason why a demolition may be necessary is if the building’s foundations are faulty. If the home wasn’t built properly, the floors inside the property may eventually become uneven. You might also notice an excess of moisture as well as brittle floors. These issues regularly occur when a home’s foundation is poor. When the foundation itself is faulty, it’s usually better to demolish the entire structure instead of attempting to repair it.
No matter the reason for the demolition, Los Angeles requires anyone who wants to demolish a building to first obtain a standard permit. This permit gives you the ability to demolish the structure without facing any fines or penalties. Keep in mind, however, that the process of obtaining a demolition permit can be lengthy since you must comply with local building regulations and make sure that the permitting is in order.
In the event that you’re demolishing a home to construct a new building, the demolition is only the first step of your project. Any delays while obtaining the necessary permit can substantially delay your project timeline, which will cost you money. The following provides a comprehensive overview of permits and why they are needed when demolishing a home in Los Angeles.
Permits Required to Demolish a Home in Los Angeles
There are several different types of permits that you may need to obtain before you can go forward with demolishing a home in Los Angeles. Each permit comes with its own set of requirements as well as its own application. In most cases, the type of permit you’ll be required to apply for depends on the size of the building that’s being demolished.
Express Demolition Permit
An express demolition permit is designed specifically to be used with smaller projects. Projects that are relatively simple and straightforward can be done with an express demolition permit. The main benefit of this permit is that the application is approved instantly after you apply online.
With this option, your project won’t be delayed while you wait to receive the necessary permit. However, it’s rare for a demolition to be small enough that it would qualify for an express demolition permit. If your project doesn’t require any review or approval, you could obtain this permit to demolish parts of your home.
Counter Plan Check
The counter plan check is available for demolition projects that are small to medium in size. If your project is close to meeting the guidelines for an express demolition permit, you should qualify for a counter plan check.
Keep in mind that counter plan check applications must be submitted at one of the LADBS office locations, which are situated in Van Nuys, West LA, and Downtown LA. Even though you will need to submit the counter plan check in person, it should be approved or denied in less than an hour. If you’re set to demolish a single-family dwelling or duplex, your project may qualify for the counter plan check.
Expanded Counter Plan Check
An expanded counter plan check is commonly needed for medium-sized demolition projects. You must submit your application at one of the offices mentioned previously. If your home is relatively large, an expanded counter plan check may be necessary.
Once you submit your application, you should receive a response in 24 hours or less. However, if you make any errors with your application or don’t provide the right documentation, approval for your counter plan check application could be delayed by a considerable amount of time.
Regular Plan Check
The regular plan check is necessary for all larger projects that involve extensive work. Along with the physical LADBS office locations mentioned previously, you can also submit your application for a regular plan check at a Development Services Center in Los Angeles. If your home is large and is set to be completely demolished, you will likely be required to apply for a regular plan check.
Once you do so, your building plans and any other documentation will be reviewed over a somewhat lengthy period of time. The approval process for a regular plan check tends to take at least a few weeks. However, any issues that arise while your application is being reviewed could cause substantial delays as you correct any problems. Without assistance from an expediter, you may find your project timeline being extended on a regular basis while you attempt to make the necessary corrections.
Hiring an Expediter to Reduce Project Timeline and Costs
Gaining the permits you require for your project depend on the size of the project and the extent of the demolition. Regardless of the type of project you’d like to take on, the permitting process can take weeks or months to complete. Any issues with your paperwork and documentation could lead to sizable delays as you correct these issues. If you want to reduce your project timeline and expedite the permitting process, it’s highly recommended that you hire a permit expediter who can speed up the entire process and resolve any issues that might occur while the LADBS reviews your permit application.
Permit expediters have extensive knowledge about local building codes and regulations, which allows them to understand how to resolve problems and make sure that your documentation is in order before it’s submitted. If you select the right permit expediter for the job, this professional can help facilitate the entire permitting process, which will invariably reduce overall costs and save you an ample amount of time when completing the project.
Many permit expediters have worked with city officials in the past and will be able to speak directly with these officials to inquire about what can be done to facilitate a smoother and more efficient process. The expediter you hire will also be able to help you acquire the permits you need for construction once the property is fully demolished.
Obtaining a permit for your demolition project may be more difficult than it initially appears. Even if you know exactly what the work will entail, you may be unsure of what permit you need to obtain. As discussed above, there are four separate permits that may be required when you want to tear down a house. These permits include everything from express demolition permits to regular plan checks.
If you’ve never demolished a building before, identifying which permit your building falls under could prove to be challenging. In this situation, it’s highly recommended that you get in touch with a permit expediter. They can help you understand which permits apply to your project before you begin to gather the necessary documentation. As such, you’ll avoid wasting time by sending in the wrong application.
Once you submit your application, the length of time it takes for the application to be approved or denied depends on the type of permit you’ve applied for. While permits for small and medium-sized buildings can be approved in less than 24 hours, regular plan checks take weeks to be reviewed.
If the LADBS identifies a problem with your paperwork or the building plans that you’ve submitted, it’s likely that you will be given time to correct these issues as opposed to the application being outright denied. If you have hired a permit expediter, they will point out potential problems before you submit your application, which makes it much less likely that the permitting process will be delayed for any notable amount of time.
In the event that you want to tear down your home, you will be tasked with applying for one of several different types of permits, which include everything from an express demolition permit to an expanded counter plan check. The type of permit you apply for will dictate how long it takes to receive approval.
While the permitting process can be relatively straightforward when you’re trying to gain the necessary permits for a demolition, it’s important to understand that this process can take a long time to be completed if any mistakes or issues are identified with your application. Delays to this process only serve to delay your entire project timeline, which wastes both time and money.
You can avoid any delays or problems with the permitting process by hiring a permit expediter before you’ve sent in your application. The expediter you hire will make sure that you’ve gathered the right documentation and help you navigate the application process. With the assistance of a permit expediter, you should be able to complete this process without any significant delays.
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.