When you’re in the process of building a home or commercial building, you’ll find that it’s necessary to obtain regular inspections to make sure that the work you’re doing matches the building plans that were provided when you applied for a building permit. Inspections are necessary to identify the current condition of construction while also ascertaining if additional work needs to be done.
If the individual who performs the inspection finds that the work doesn’t wholly match the building plans that you initially provided, some changes may need to be made. Since inspectors can request that changes be made at any time, it’s recommended that you seek regular inspections throughout the construction process. Otherwise, the issues with construction may not be caught until the entire property has been built, which could be very costly to fix.
The aspects of construction that are checked during an inspection include:
- A comprehensive inspection of the interiors
- An inspection of the exterior of the property
- An extensive document review
Inspections pertaining to building permits occur at different intervals of the construction project, which ensures that the property is built to specification.
This article offers a deep dive into how the inspection process works and what you can to avoid violations.
The Inspection Process Overview
The inspection process is a relatively simple one no matter the stage of construction you’re currently in. The primary steps involved in this process include:
- Inspection is officially requested after you have obtained the permit and your construction work is ready
- The inspector will take a look at the construction work and the progress that you’ve made
- If violations are found with your work, a correction notice will be issued
- In the event that a correction notice is issued, the contractor will have a certain period of time to correct violations
- Inspector will sign off on the work and issue a Certificate of Occupancy
While the inspection process is largely a simple and straightforward one, this process can become more complicated when violations are identified and corrections need to be made. If you have obtained a permit and have recently started construction, you may be ready to request an inspection. In this event, you can request a building permit inspection online or by phone, both of which will connect you to the LADBS.
If you would like to request an inspection online, you can do so by navigating to this link, after which you will be required to enter your 15-digit building permit number. If you would like to reach an inspector by phone, they are available to be contacted from 7AM to 8:30AM, Monday through Friday.
The regular field inspections that they perform are completed weekdays until 3:30PM. However, off-hour inspections are available if necessary. It’s also important to note that you can schedule an inspection on Saturday if you’re constructing a single-family dwelling. If you live in Los Angeles County, you can reach LADBS by dialing 311. Outside of Los Angeles, they can be reached at (213) 473-3231.
What Happens If Violations Are Found?
Violations are a common occurrence with building permit inspections. However, the presence of one or two violations can cause you to perform much more work than you had originally planned, which is why it’s highly recommended that you do what you can to minimize making mistakes during the construction process. There are a myriad of different types of violations that can be caught during a building inspection.
The more common examples of violations include:
- Working without a building permit
- Not testing certain materials for lead and asbestos
- Adding a bedroom in the basement without including an egress window
- Incorrect electrical work, which could be everything from using the wrong circuit size to forgetting to install a GFCI
- Not adhering to requirements for fence height
- Poor bathroom venting
- Placing smoke alarms in the incorrect positions
- Not strictly following the building plans
- Any work that doesn’t meet local code requirements
In the event that one or more violations are identified during the inspection, your inspector will send you a correction notice, which is a small and simple piece of paper that details the types of changes that need to be made as well as the deadline for this work to be done. In most cases, the only fees that you are expected to pay in regards to a building permit inspection involve the fees related to the inspection itself. If you are required to make corrections, the expenses you will need to pay are centered primarily around the costs of making changes to the work you’ve already done.
Keep in mind that corrections must be made if you want to be able to legally construct the building. Otherwise, your work could be demolished. The length of time that you’re given to make the necessary corrections to the property depends on the amount of corrections that must be made. If a substantial amount of work needs to be done, you can expect to be given a lengthier deadline. When you request an off-hours inspection, the fees are extra and will cost $100 per hour with a minimum payment of $300.
How to Avoid Violations
The best way to avoid violations with the construction work that you’re performing is to make sure that all of the work is done according to the building plans that you submitted with your application for a building permit. As long as you stick to these plans, it’s unlikely that any corrections will need to be made. It’s essential that you avoid building violations before they are found because of the amount of work that might need to be done to make the necessary corrections.
Depending on the size and type of violation that’s identified, your construction crew may need to spend days or weeks correcting the issues that were found, which wastes time and money. If you already had a budget for the development project in question, too many corrections could cause your budget to spiral out of control.
To avoid the more common violations, some tips you should adhere to include:
- Eliminate the more common handrail hazards, which can include an incorrect height or poor grip
- Install all windows properly
- Inspect the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure that they work and are positioned in the correct areas
- Inspect the flashing and guardrails around the deck area
- Prevent certain energy violations by insulating ducts and sealing up openings in pipes and vents
- Search for fire hazards with electrical wiring and the drywall that you’re using
- Finish the basement properly
- Make sure that you have all of the correct building permits
Types of Inspections
There are many different inspections that you can request for your property. The types of inspections that are required for your property depend on the exact type of building that you’re creating and the amount of work that has been done.
The standard inspections available through the LADBS include:
|Residential||This type of inspection covers all inspections that are provided for single-family and two-family dwellings, which can be anything from new construction to renovations|
|Building||These inspections cover every commercial, residential, and industrial building with more than two units|
|Electrical||This inspection is designed specifically to verify compliance with electrical code and is available for commercial and industrial buildings|
|Fire sprinkler||This type of inspection makes sure that all industrial and commercial buildings are compliant with the fire sprinkler code|
|Elevator||These inspections extend to all elevators in Los Angeles and must be administered on an annual basis|
|Mechanical HVAC||These inspections make sure that all HVAC units within industrial and commercial buildings meet mechanical code|
|Plumbing||These inspections check the vent systems, fuel gas systems, industrial waste systems, and sanitary systems in any industrial or commercial building|
|Green building||As of 2011, all non-residential and residential buildings and additions must meet the Los Angeles Green Building Code, which is why this type of inspection is necessary|
If you are constructing a home, the residential and green building inspections may be enough for you. Keep in mind that inspections must take place at different intervals throughout the development project. The number of inspections that are required all depends on the size of your project.
Read this article to find out more about how inspections work and what the general inspection timeline involves.
Getting an Inspection
Now that you understand all that the inspection process entails, it’s time to request an inspection, which can be done online or by phone. As mentioned previously, you can request an inspection online at this link. You can also dial 311 or call (213) 473-3231 to get in touch with an inspector from 7AM to 8:30AM on weekdays. Keep in mind that a building permit is necessary if you want to avoid violations during the inspection.
Before you get an inspection, make sure that everything you need is available at the construction site, which includes:
- A copy of your building permit
- The Building Card that was provided to you when the permit was issued
- Approved building plans in the event that a plan review must take place
- Any equipment that you believe would be necessary during an inspection, which will likely include a ladder
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.