How Long Is a Construction Permit Valid?

Before you begin constructing any type of building, you must first obtain a building permit, which gives you permission to develop on a piece of land. If you want to construct a building in Los Angeles County, you’ll need to apply for a permit at the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. There are different types of building permits you can apply for depending on the size and scope of your project.

The reason why these permits are necessary is because they are only meant to ensure that the structure adheres to local building codes and requirements. A building that isn’t up to code could be completely unsafe for anyone who enters. If you can provide the LADBS with building plans that are up to code, there’s a good chance that your permit application will be approved.

Keep in mind that building without a permit is illegal and will likely result in you being asked to demolish any work you’ve done and pay a substantial amount of fines. Building permits are needed for the majority of construction projects. If you’re completing a small repair or renovation, you may be able to perform this job without first applying for a permit. In Los Angeles, building permits can expire if you take too long to start the project or if you suspend the project for an extended period of time. The following offers a detailed look at building permits and when they are needed for construction projects.

What Is a Building Permit?

Building permits are typically issued by government agencies in the city or county you’re operating out of. This is a type of approval that allows you to perform a remodeling or construction project on the property you own. If you receive the permit that you apply for, you can be confident that your building plans meet local standards and requirements when it comes to construction, land use, and zoning.

Some of the main issues that the permitting authority will look at when assessing your building plans include:

  • Zoning
  • Water and sewer lines
  • Sanitation
  • Structural integrity of framing
  • Electrical service
  • Fire protection

Where Do I Submit My Building Permit?

As mentioned previously, you will need to submit your application to the LADBS if you want to develop a project in Los Angeles County. The permitting process can vary considerably in complexity. For instance, you may only need to obtain an express permit if you’re making small changes or renovations to your home. These permits can be applied for online and should be approved in a matter of minutes. However, larger projects will come with lengthier permitting processes. Keep in mind that you can speed this process up considerably by hiring a permit expediter.

When you’re preparing the permit application, you’ll likely be tasked with providing extra materials and documentation to support the information you included in the application. These documents can include drawings of the intended work as well as a site plan or grading plan. Keep in mind that you’ll be required to pay a fee alongside your building permit application, which can vary depending on factors like the size of the building and the type of project you’re set to complete.

What Should I Do With My Building Permit?

The permit you obtain should always be displayed in clear view, which may require taping the document to a window or door. For new construction and other large projects, several inspections might be required while the project is ongoing. If the work is approved by an inspector, you won’t need to display the building permit.

In the event that your building permit ever expires, you could face some consequences. For one, reapplying for a permit usually comes with a surcharge. If you make the mistake of avoiding obtaining a new permit altogether, it’s possible that the LADBS would charge a fine if they found out about any unpermitted work you’ve completed.

construction site with man surveying land

What Happens If I Don’t Have a Building Permit?

In most cases, the local building authority will initially notify you to stop work until you’ve obtained the necessary building permit. A daily fine may also be levied when you break building permit laws. Certain counties can place liens on homes when fines aren’t paid. It’s also common for developers to be asked to demolish the work that they’ve done. Even though this step might seem drastic, demolishing the entire project is sometimes required if issues are discovered that might worsen the safety of a home or commercial building.

You may be able to avoid demolishing the structure by updating the work to meet local building codes. In the event that unpermitted work is performed in a residential home, this work could cause a homeowners insurance policy to be voided. Any damages that are caused by unpermitted work would almost certainly not be covered by a homeowners insurance company.

Homes or buildings that have been constructed with unpermitted work may be more difficult to sell in the future. While large renovations and home improvement projects are typically done to improve the value of the building, the valuation may end up dropping if the project was completed without a building permit. Lenders don’t want to provide loans for buildings that might be unsafe. Keep in mind that any remodels or renovations on a property are required to be disclosed during the process of selling a home.

Yet another consequences that might occur if you let your building permit expire is that your safety could be at risk. Permitting requirements are there for a reason. When a building doesn’t meet local building codes, it could be unsafe. If plumbing or electrical work was done without first receiving the proper permit, anyone who walks in the structure could be in danger.

When Is a Building Permit Required?

As long as a review by an authorized inspector is deemed to be necessary, building permits will be issued for the project. Not every renovation or construction project will require a building permit. These guidelines differ from county to county. It’s possible that renovations or repair work could be done without a permit as long as the project costs don’t exceed $5,000.

On the other hand, any project that is set to involve major changes or additions to a building’s structure or the mechanical systems will require building permits of some kind. Any new construction project requires a building permit before work can begin. Multiple permits may be needed depending on the type of work you’re doing. In the event that you’re hiring a contractor to complete this work, they should be able to perform this process for you and help you obtain the permit you need.

As touched upon previously, permitting requirements can differ substantially from county to county. If you have any questions about building permits, the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety should be able to provide the answers you’re looking for. Regardless of the type of project you’re working on, you should think about hiring a permit expediter to help you navigate this process.

If you find that a permit is required, having an expediter by your side should make it easier for you to get through the permitting process without any unnecessary delays. The time you spend waiting for your permit application to be approved is time that you’re not able to spend completing the project at hand, which is why it’s best to have the permit approved as quickly as possible.

When Do Building Permits Expire?

Once you’ve received a building permit, it’s important to understand that these permits don’t last forever. Once the permit has been officially issued, you’ll find that different jurisdictions have different requirements on how long you’re able to keep the permit without performing any work. In most cases, building permits expire if work on the project doesn’t start within six months or isn’t fully complete within 1-2 years. In Los Angeles County, your building permit will expire if:

  • You don’t begin work on the project within six months after the permit was issued
  • You suspend or abandon the project for six months after work has already begun

Before you can even think about starting work when you have an expired permit, you will be required to obtain an entirely new permit, which comes with a fee that’s around 50% of the initial permit fee. This fee is applicable as long as the project hasn’t been abandoned or suspended for more than one year. If it has, full permit fees are required.

Nearly all construction and renovation projects require a building permit before work can legally begin. If you happen to perform unpermitted work, stiff penalties could be levied against you, which is why it’s highly recommended that you obtain a permit and make sure that the project isn’t delayed for too long after the permit is granted.

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