When you want to complete a construction project of any kind, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to obtain at least one building permit. Building permits act as two separate things, which include a record of the construction history and a process to ensure consistent quality control for a building. While a standard building permit is necessary when you want to construct a new building, these permits must be obtained for larger renovation and remodeling projects as well.
Along with a standard building permit, some additional permits that may be needed for your project include electrical, plumbing, heating, and elevator permits. Plan approvals, work permits, and environmental permits might be required as well to ensure that the development project can go forward without issue. If heavy construction equipment is set to be used during the construction project, you’ll likely need to obtain permits before being allowed to operate this equipment.
When a building is set to be designed, building permits act as approvals for the project in question. When you apply for a permit, it won’t automatically be granted by the LADBS. Instead, you will need to provide building plans and a range of additional documents to ensure that the permit is approved. If the building plans have errors in them, these errors must be corrected if you want the permit application to be approved.
The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety is in charge of providing developers with the necessary building permits for the project at hand. They can grant or deny the permit application. If you want your application to be approved, it’s important to adhere to the requirements held by LADBS and the surrounding city. The most important thing when sending in a permit application is to make sure that you take safety precautions into account. If the building plans you send in don’t match the local zoning code, your permit won’t be approved. This article takes an in-depth look at the permitting process and what it takes to obtain one.
The 4 Most Important Things to Understand About Permits in Los Angeles
There are four specific elements that you should understand about permits in Los Angeles, which include the Department of Building and Safety, the permit type, environmental issues, and the location for the construction project.
1. Department of Building and Safety
In order for a structural project to occur in Los Angeles, it must be approved by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. As mentioned previously, you’ll need to submit finalized building plans if you want the permit application to be approved by LADBS. There are several different outcomes that can occur once LADBS reviews your application. The permit application could be approved, rejected in part, or rejected in whole.
In the event that the application is partially rejected, you may need to make some changes in order for the entire application to be approved. There’s also a chance that the LADBS could contact you to ask some questions about your project, which means that some simple clarification may be all that’s necessary to have your permit approved. There are numerous issues that could cause delays in the permitting process, which extend to:
- Zoning designation problems
- Overlay zoning decisions
- Alterations in planning ordinances
- ZAA-hearing conclusions
2. Permit Type
The next thing you need to determine is which type of building permit you require for your development project. Without having the right permits in your possession, you could be penalized if you start the project before applying for the correct permits. These penalties could include anything from fines to tearing down the construction work that has already occurred. If you’re performing structural alterations, major repair work, or property construction, at least one building permit will likely be needed. The main permit types that you may need for your project include:
- An electrical permit – A permit will need to be obtained if any electrical work is set to be done during construction
- A moving permit – These permits provide homeowners with the ability to reserve parking spots for the day of their move
- A plumbing permit – This kind of permit is necessary whenever plumbing work must be done for a repair, remodeling project, or full construction project
- A roofing permit – If a new roof is being added to a home, a roofing permit must be obtained before work can begin
- An environmental permit – These permits are necessary when implementing features like storm-water runoff, underground storage tanks, and flood control
- Permit for construction equipment – When you’re set to use heavy construction equipment for a development project, you’ll need to request a permit
3. Environmental Issues
There is a range of environmental issues that can adversely affect the permitting process. Because of the distinct issues that can occur in the Los Angeles area, all architectural plans for storm drainage issues and possible flood hazards will be reviewed directly by the Public Works Department. If the area you want to construct a building in is prone to flooding, your permit request could be denied by the Public Works Department.
It’s also possible that they would request you to make substantial changes to your building plans in order to accommodate the flood risk. In the event that your plans would affect soil conditions or geological stability, you might also need to seek approval from the Geo-Technical and Materials Engineering Division. Once you’ve taken the environmental factors into account, the permitting process should be much more straightforward.
4. Location is Key
The location that you choose for your construction project will play a sizable role in how long the permitting process takes. Keep in mind that the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety separates land by:
- Enterprise zones
- Hilly areas
- Historic preservation zones
- Q-condition specific plan areas
- General specific plan areas
If your construction project is set to occur in an unincorporated location, your building plans must be sent to the Regional Planning Department for approval. Your plan must meet every regulation, which can include lot locations, vehicular access, parking spaces, and zoning. In the event that your project will take place in a coastal zone, you must send in a permit application to the California Coastal Commission. The LADBS can help you determine which permits and plan approvals must be sought before you can begin construction.
How to Find Out If a Building Permit is Required
As mentioned previously, the best way to find out if a building permit is required for your project is to get in touch with the LADBS. In Los Angeles, these permits are usually necessary for any project that exceeds $500. Keep in mind that some developers only start to obtain permits once the constructed work reaches a price of $2,500 or more. This applies to repair, remodel, demolish, and construction projects. For large-scale jobs, multiple permits will likely be necessary. Some additional projects that should be permitted include:
- Chimney repairs
- Seismic retrofitting
- Addition of new windows
- Solar panel installation
- Bathroom and kitchen remodels
- Roofing projects
There are two ways that permits will cost you, which include the permit fee and the time it takes for inspections to occur and plans to be submitted. Delaying the construction project only serves to cost you money, which is why it’s important that you’re able to get through this process in a relatively short period of time. If you don’t permit the work that needs to be done, you can expect to pay a penalty fee of more than $350. The fee can rise to $1,250 if you don’t make this payment within a 30-day period.
If you adhere to the permitting process, you’ll receive a certificate of occupancy once the work has been finished. This certificate is used to display that the building is 100-percent legitimate. Keep in mind that this certificate must be presented in order for a building to be appraised. If the building isn’t appraised, it can’t be sold. The city could also make a demand that you demolish the work that’s already been done if you can’t present a certificate of occupancy, which can be very costly.
How Crest Real Estate Can Help You
Here at Crest Real Estate, we provide expansive permit-expediting services that can assist you in speeding this process along. With backgrounds in urban planning, architecture, and engineering, we can help you prepare all of the permit documentation that you’ll need to submit for approval. Our permit expediters know who to speak to throughout the approval process to eliminate delays and make sure that any obstacles are deftly navigated.
We have worked to expedite the approval of many building permits and have garnered a reputation of being reliable and trustworthy. Some of the additional services you can request include due-diligence assistance, design & massing services, project management, and assistance with entitlements. Call us today to learn more about how we can help facilitate a smooth development process.
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.