While any new construction requires obtaining a building permit before construction can take place, there are also some other types of development projects that a permit is needed for, the primary of which is any large remodeling project that occurs on a home or commercial building. A remodeling project is any type of project that alters the structure of a building. If you want to add a new room to a home or install some new foundation flooring, these projects will require a permit if you want to legally construct them without issue.
Many homeowners are interested in remodeling because this type of project allows the homeowner to add value to their property while also making their home more comfortable to live in. If the home is somewhat cramped and crowded, adding an extra room can create enough space to make the property feel more open. Remodeling projects can vary significantly in size, which can determine whether or not you require a permit before construction begins.
During a standard remodeling project, there are numerous important actions that you will want to take along the way to make sure that the project is a successful one. These steps include:
- Making a plan
- Setting a budget
- Hiring the appropriate contractor
- Securing the right permits
- Starting demolition
- Installing and painting flooring if necessary
- Inspecting all of your work
Permits are sometimes necessary for remodeling projects. This article will offer a thorough guide into when you should obtain a permit.
Renovations That Require a Permit
There are an extensive number of renovations that require a permit if you want to be able to complete them without running into legal issues.
The types of renovation projects that undoubtedly require a permit include:
- Changing the roof-line of a home
- Demolishing a wall
- Completing any kind of work in a sewer line
- Adding circuits to the home or installing electrical wiring
- Expanding the layout of a home
- Installing a fence that’s higher than six feet
- Building a garage
- Building an addition to the home
- Converting a garage
- Installing a new water heater in your property
- Installing a new roof or altering the structure of an existing roof
- Installing a new air conditioner or furnace
- Installing a wood-burning stove or fireplace
Permits are required for most of these renovations because they directly alter the structure of a home, which can lead to changes with the floor plan and layout of the property. If you don’t receive a permit for these projects from LADBS, it’s possible that you would have a difficult time selling the home when listing the property on the market.
Lenders are also wary of providing loans to buyers who are looking to purchase a property with non-permitted work, which you should be aware of before starting a remodeling project. For certain projects like completing work in a sewer line, it’s important to first obtain a permit because any issues with the project could lead to problems for other homeowners in the area. You can get more information about the exact renovations that require a permit by going to the LADBS website. If you’re unable to find the pertinent information, it’s also possible to send a message to LADBS through their website.
Renovations That Might Require a Permit
There are also numerous renovations that might require a permit. The need for a permit isn’t always clear with these types of renovations, which is why contacting LADBS is your best bet to make sure that you understand permit requirements before the project is underway.
The various projects that might require a permit include:
- Replacing single windows or doors
- Moving an existing sink to a new area, which will require new drain and supply lines
- Demolishing a wall that isn’t load-bearing
- Cutting a tree down on your property
- Building a retaining wall that’s higher than four feet
There are a variety of factors that determine if these projects require a permit to complete. While demolishing walls that aren’t load-bearing doesn’t change the structure of your home, it can make for a dangerous project, which is why a permit may be required by the LADBS. Moving a sink to a new location in a home will likely require a permit if additional drain and supply lines need to be installed.
While it’s possible to build some retaining walls without needing to first obtain a permit, a permit is required for retaining walls above four feet tall since taller walls can topple. If you would like to find out more information about these specific renovations, it’s recommended that you check out the permit section of the LADBS website, which should help you determine if your project requires a permit.
Renovations That Do Not Require a Permit
Before you seek a permit for your remodeling project, it’s important to know about the types of renovations that don’t require a permit, of which there are many. The majority of projects that don’t require permits are smaller in scope and don’t change the structure of the property.
The types of renovations that never require a permit include:
- Installing a new roof that consists of the same materials
- Installing carpet or any type of hard flooring, which includes everything from wood to vinyl
- Exterior or interior painting projects
- Replacing a sink with a new one in the same location
- Replacing countertops
- Building a fence that’s less than six feet tall
- Constructing a one-story detached building that doesn’t require plumbing or electrical work
- Building a tree house
- Building a retaining wall that’s less than four feet tall
- Replacing the surface of your deck without replacing structural materials
- Replacing kitchen and bathroom fixtures without modifying the plumbing line
- Replacing an appliance in the same location without modifying any circuits
Permits aren’t required for these types of projects because they are deemed to be simple in nature. It’s not necessary to obtain a permit for a remodeling project when the work that you do won’t alter the structure of the property in question. You can determine if a permit is required on your particular renovation by getting in touch with the LADBS. Consider requesting the services of real estate professionals to find out more about the types of renovations that don’t require permits.
Consequences of Not Having a Building Permit When Required
Remodeling a home without a permit can come with a substantial amount of consequences. Even if the city doesn’t immediately find out that construction occurred without the use of a permit, there are a bevy of risks that come with completing a renovation project like this. For one, it’s possible that the work will be substandard. When you obtain a permit, you’ll be required to provide the LADBS with plans of your project. If the permit is approved, this means that the LADBS has determined that the project won’t negatively affect the structure of your home. Keep in mind that poor workmanship can place yourself and anyone else in the home in danger.
Along with the safety risks that come with not having a building permit, there’s also a possibility that the city will identify the issue and demand that you change the work that you’ve done or demolish it altogether, which can be costly and time-consuming. Not having a building permit can also be problematic when it comes time to sell your home. In the event that the project you completed isn’t identified until the home is appraised, you could run into issues.
A home appraisal is a process that occurs while the sale of the home is being closed on. If the buyer is wary about purchasing the property with the remodeling that you’ve done, they could back out of the deal, which means that your home would once again need to be placed on the market. The lender could also be reticent to back a loan for a property that has received non-permitted work. It’s highly recommended that you go through the process of obtaining a building permit to avoid the consequences and risks of not doing so.
Ask Professionals If You Need a Permit
If you believe that you require a permit but aren’t entirely sure if you’re completing the process correctly or applying for the right permit, it’s highly recommended that you get in touch with professionals who can guide you through the building permit process and advise you on what your next steps should be. This process is relatively simple and straightforward, which is why it’s best to avoid making mistakes. These same professionals can also expedite the permitting process, which should help you obtain your permit without issue and in a short period of time.
To apply for a building permit, you can either apply online at LADBS for an express permit or download a permit application for larger projects. If you need to download an application, this application can be taken to one of the five LADBS locations.
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.