Whenever you want to construct a building or perform sizable renovations on a home, you will likely be required to obtain a building permit in Los Angeles. It’s oftentimes necessary to obtain a permit before starting construction because of the need to ensure the building plans match with local building codes. If you perform non-permitted work, it’s possible that the finished project won’t adhere to local codes, which could result in the building being unsafe for people to enter.
A building permit is essentially a legal document that you will need to apply for if you’re about to begin work on a large construction project. If you don’t have this document before you start constructing a home or commercial building, you could face high fines and penalties. It’s possible that any work that you’ve done before acquiring the permit will be demolished.
While the main type of permit that’s required for most construction projects is a standard building permit, your project might also require additional electrical, plumbing, and mechanical permits if you plan on working with these systems during development. Another type of permit that might be applicable to your situation is a conditional use permit, which facilitates an alternative use to a piece of land that isn’t typically possible because of zoning laws. The following provides you with a more in-depth guide on building permits and the necessary inspections that will take place during construction.
Reasons to Get a Building Permit in Los Angeles
In most cases, building permits are a necessity to ensure that developers meet local safety standards. If you don’t obtain a Los Angeles building permit before starting work on your project, it could be shut down at any stage of the construction process. In the event that your development project is shut down, you will invariably lose ample amounts of time and money in demolishing your previous work and starting anew, which is why it’s recommended that you obtain a building permit at the beginning of the process.
If you finish building a home without a permit, the resale value of the home will drop considerably. Even if the home is well-designed and well-built, many lenders are wary of providing loans if they can’t be certain that the home is safe to live in. It’s even possible for civil and criminal proceedings to occur as a result of non-permitted work.
Before you submit an application for a building permit, keep in mind that it’s possible for a permit application to be rejected. The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety has set numerous requirements for anyone who wants to be granted a building permit. If you don’t have the necessary documentation, your application could be denied altogether.
It’s common for building plans that are submitted alongside the application to be designed incorrectly when taking the local building codes into account. While the LADBS may give you time to fix any errors before the application is denied, it’s highly recommended that you sort out these issues before sending in the application.
The Process of Getting a Permit
The first step that occurs when you’re trying to obtain a permit is to gain a better understanding of the permit application process in the county the property is situated in. Even though the process of applying for a building permit is different with each county, there are some basic guidelines that should prepare you for this process. Before submitting an application, make sure that you read up on all of the local requirements for building a structure of any kind.
Even though this process is long and arduous, it’s necessary since building permits are treated as legal documents. If you want to be certain that your building plans and other documents meet local building codes and requirements, you could contact the LADBS and speak with one of their representatives. As mentioned previously, you may also be tasked with applying for several additional permits, which include everything from mechanical and electrical permits to plumbing permits.
The next step in this process involves preparing and eventually submitting your permit application. You will need to provide all of the requested information on your permit application. Depending on the type of project you’re completing, you may also need to provide the LADBS with blueprints and building plans. Once you have everything in order, all that’s left is to submit the application with all of the requested documentation.
Along with the permit application, you will need to pay some permit fees to the LADBS. The exact amount of fees that you need to pay largely depends on the type of project you’re working on as well as the type of permit you’re applying for. The final step in this process is collecting your permit, which can only be done once the LADBS has reviewed and approved your application. If an issue arises during this situation, delays could occur. However, most building permits are approved within 2-3 weeks, after which you can get started on your project.
What Do I Need for Building Permit Applications?
As mentioned previously, there are many different types of documents that you will need to submit alongside your building permit application. The most important documents that must be provided if you want your application to be approved are building plans that display exactly what you intend to do when constructing the building. The LADBS will use these plans to determine if your design meets local building regulations. Keep in mind that the the building plans and drawings you should submit include:
- A structural plan check
- A disabled access plan
- A grading pre-inspection
- Green building documentation
Additional documentation you might need extends to a soil report, an energy calculation, a joint referral form, and a hillside referral form. You can apply for a building permit online at the LADBS or by providing your application to one of the LADBS offices. The LADBS has five offices throughout the Los Angeles area, which means that your wait time shouldn’t be too long. As was mentioned previously, permits are needed if you want the work that you do to be legal. Once the LADBS looks at your building plans and approves the permit, you can be confident that your plans for the building meet safety regulations and building codes.
The Inspection Process
The inspection process that must occur for you to obtain a building permit is completed in 3-5 steps depending on the results of the inspection. These steps include:
- You will request an inspection online or by phone once your permit has been approved and enough work has been done to obtain an inspection
- Your construction work will then be thoroughly inspected to make sure it adheres to the building plans you submitted
- If violations are discovered, your contractor will need to correct these issues
- If corrections were performed properly, the professional inspector will provide you with a correction notice
- The final step occurs when the inspector signs off on the work that’s been done and provides you with a Certificate of Occupancy
When your work is ready to be inspected, you can request an inspection online at this link. Before submitting your request, you will need to input the 15-digit number that can be found on your building permit. You could also call the local 311 number or dial (213) 473-3231 if you’re not currently in the Los Angeles area. Even if you’ve received a building permit, the work that you do must be approved via an inspection if you want to be able to finish development on the building.
Getting an Inspection
Obtaining an inspection is as easy as submitting an online request or calling the aforementioned phone number. As long as you have the 15-digit number associated with your building permit, you should be able to quickly schedule an inspection after you have completed the necessary work. The necessary documents that the inspector should have access to before the inspection takes place include:
- The Building Card that was provided to you when the permit was first issued
- A copy of your building permit
- Copies of your approved building plans
- Any equipment that’s necessary for completing the inspection, which likely includes a ladder
If you have any questions about this process and what it entails, make sure that you call the LADBS immediately. They will be able to answer any questions that you might have and should also be able to tell you if you have all of the documentation that you need before applying.
It’s better to ask these questions before you submit your application to avoid any unnecessary delays to the permitting process. Once you’ve completed the construction process and have passed the inspection, the Certificate of Occupancy you receive means that the structure is ready to be used and is safe to occupy.
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.