California is considered one of the most dynamic states in the US as far as the construction industry is concerned. There are thousands of commercial buildings and skyscrapers. And there’s no doubt the state presents unique opportunities for aspiring investors. But before the official groundbreaking starts, contractors and homeowners must get permits from the relevant authorities.
In this post, we’ll discuss the process that must be followed to obtain construction permits in California.
Permit California provisional restrictions
In California, building permits regulate the construction of property to ensure it’s safe for human occupancy and habitation. The permits are required for a demolition project, construction repairs, erection of temporary structures, etc. So, before you embark on any project, you should understand what the permits California government requires.
The Permit California Code of Regulations (title 24) require that no building or structure shall be constructed, improved, or repaired unless a permit is issued. You should check with the building, zoning, fire, and public works department about the specific requirements.
The permits California government requires
Some of the permits California offers include:
- Grading permits
- Plumbing permits
- Demolition permits
- Landscaping permits
- Electrical permits
Who should get a building permit?
Now that you know what the Permits California government requires, you should understand who should get a permit. Any property owner and licensed contractors must be issued with a building permit before any work begins. Contractors must assume full responsibility and must know the codes and construction methods.
The permits California code protects public health and reduces any potential hazards that can lead to unsafe construction. Secondly, it ensures the minimum standards for materials are used. Plus, the public will understand the laws that affect building construction.
General guidelines the permits California building department has set
- Permits are only available to contractors who work on behalf of an authorized property owner or agent
- No work will be covered without being approved or inspected
- A permit is deemed null and void if you don’t commence the work within 180 days
- The permit can be revoked if you start the work and abandon it after 180 days
After the completion of the projects, you must obtain approvals. Then, the permits California building departments will authorize utility release, and you’ll get a certificate of occupancy.
Common improvements exempted from obtaining building Permits
- Fencing not over 6-feet high
- Patios and driveways constructed on natural grade
- Finish work – wallpapering, painting, and carpeting
- Partitions and counters that are less than 5-feet high
- Storage sheds and playhouses not supported by adjustment buildings
- Fabricated swimming pools with a capacity of fewer than 5000 gallons
- Window awning supported by an exterior wall
It’s worth mentioning that these are not the only improvements exempted from getting permits. You should liaise with City Municipal to understand the permits California government has set in place.
The Construction Permits Process in California
Are you curious about the permits for the upcoming project? Well, obtaining a building permit doesn’t have to be complicated. If you want to keep stress at a minimum, you should budget for design fees. The application process will be reviewed by the various departments.
Each department will require some conditions that may be part of the approval process. A newly constructed building may require the approval of:
- Economic development
- Public works
- Development services
- Project management
- Neighborhood code compliance
An overview of the general permit process
Every application must be reviewed and the fees paid. The first page will show the calculations and report of the submittals. Then, the plans are set according to applicable codes and state laws. If there are corrections, they are rectified before being approved.
The minor corrections are made to the initial plans that you submitted. If you have to do a major change, you should submit the base drawings and make the necessary corrections. Any revised plans are submitted to the permits California construction department that initiated the corrections. And depending on the correction done, it can take 2-3 weeks for approval.
Once the contractor or owner pays the fees, he or she will get a copy of the approved plans. And before the work begins, an inspection is done. This helps to verify that you have adhered to all rules set by the relevant permits California department.
Submit the architectural plan
A structural plan can enable the contractor to obtain a permit from the city planning department. You should call or visit the relevant department, and the staff members will be ready to answer all questions they may have.
If the project may require approval through the planning process, you may be forced to make a different application. Still, you may be required to consult with the health or fire department to evaluate what else you need during the application process.
You can obtain the structural plan approval from the Permits California planning department and recommend any changes. The process could take up to 10 days to complete. Keep in mind that the state requires you to allocate part of the planning to an engineer or an architect.
Apply for the permit
As you make your application, you should contact the building and safety division. The information you give on the plan should include:
- The plan review deposit
- Copies of required documents
- Supporting documents – energy, structural, and soil analysis
- Completed application – checklist and related forms
You’ll be required to pay the plan check fee and a deposit that is credited back to your account.
The review process
Depending on the nature of the project, the review can involve several departments. For example, the fire department will check whether you’ve followed the safety requirements. Also, the building and safety division will confirm the building, mechanical, and plumbing issues.
The planning division will ensure compliance with the zoning regulations like:
- Required parking
- Building height
- Lot coverage
- Density requirements
- Waste management
The fee is paid and the permit is issued
Once approved, the applicant will be notified of any fees due. You can make the payments via credit cards, checks, or business checks. After that, you’ll get a certified copy of the permit card.
The final inspection is important. Sometimes, the building permits California offers may lapse, so you have to apply for another one. What if you change the plan before the final inspection is done? In this case, you should get a permit for the specific plan.
Check the website
If you want to get the details of the permits California government needs, you should check the website of the local municipal council. You’ll get first-hand information about the list of documents required and everything about the local building codes.
Seek approval of homeowners association
If you’re a member of any association, you must seek their approval before you proceed with any work. Some have clauses about the color of your house, paint to use, etc.
Comply with the permits California building code
While your local town can make minor modifications, they must comply with permits California building code. If you’re working on an older building, you may be required to upgrade things like the electrical system. Also, you may have to obtain separate permits on:
- Fabricated structures
- Heating and air conditioning
- Plumbing systems
Before you think about the permits California State has to offer, you should consult the local public work and inform them of the project you want to start. Some projects may require two permits, so you may want to enquire first.
Picture this – a truck is coming to your site to offload materials, and then the building inspectorate department is on the site. The staff insists that you have to check the footings. To avoid disappointments, you should ensure that your building first passes the inspection.
If there’s a problem, you should ask the contractor to help you comply with the building code. You never know- some matters can be corrected on the spot.
How long it takes to get a building permit
If you want to obtain a building permit for your remodeling project, it can take time to complete. In most cases, permits for residential projects can take one week. The approval process for a commercial project can take 2-3 weeks. If you have a small remodeling project, you can obtain the permit within a day. You may want to check with the local authorities to confirm the timelines.
Each city has different requirements, but most of them will range from several weeks to a couple of months.
Once the process is over, you’ll be issued a permit that should be posted on the construction site. At times, you’ll see the inspectorate department coming to verify the authenticity of the permit. To be on the safe side, you should never rush to see what the Permits California buildings department requires from you.
The construction permit division will review applications on a first-come-first-served basis.
Sometimes, a building permit can be pre-approved. The local council can offer the initial designs if you want to construct something like a deck. If you can follow the laid plan, you don’t have to submit your plan.
For other structures like a solar room, you don’t need a plan. You just follow what the manufacturer states. And for projects like installing a water heater, you don’t have to wait for weeks to get the approval of the plan. This is something that can be done on the same day.
Residential and commercial buildings permit California cost
While building permits for commercial and residential buildings may look similar in some way, they differ in terms of cost. The reasons why residential buildings cost less are:
- They come with low inspection fees
- They are designed for couples and families
- The approval process is less strict
On the other hand, commercial buildings cost more because:
- Of strict approval processes
- Are specifically designed to represent businesses
- Come with expensive permit fees
Whether you want to remodel or develop a commercial building, you should ensure you conform to the permits California building department has set in place. But along with the standard building costs, you should expect to pay 5% of the value of the contract.
Where can you get a building permit in California?
If you want to start or remodel your property, you need a permit issued by your city. Your building permit application will vary depending on the project you want to undertake. When you make an application for the permit, they will require the following information:
- The legal description of a property
- Project description
- License number
- Type of permit applied for
Online documents must be obtained according to the regulations set by the permits California building code.
Why the process can take longer
Contrary to a common belief that the permits California State offers are complex, this is not the case. The reason why the process can take longer is that many departments are involved. Plus, the state is required to enforce numerous regulations to ensure the project is safe for the community.
The number of inspections will depend on the scope of the project. Also, structural inspections should be conducted by a professional. Simple repairs like replacing a window glass don’t require a permit but replacing something like a door may require a permit.
What if I skip getting the permit?
If you’re working with a contractor who advises you to skip this process, then you should move to the other one. Some cities can triple the fees if they find out that you didn’t get the necessary permits for your construction. You could also attract huge penalties if the construction is not done according to the set codes. Even if you’re undertaking a small project, you should enquire to make sure everything is done according to the set standards. Why not consult the city building and permit office?
The above information can help people with little or no experience understand the construction permits California State requires. Generally, you should obtain a permit when building, repairing, demolishing, or upgrading structures. While the building department may process a permit as one package, they can be divided as mechanical, plumbing, building, or electrical permits. It’s your responsibility to ensure all the inspections are completed.
It’s time you comply with all the Permits California building codes.