Los Angeles Building Permits 101

Los Angeles is home to a famously complicated permitting process. Compared to other cities where new construction is encouraged, and sometimes even fast, LA County takes residential builders through a multistep permitting and inspection process that often leads to project delays.

A new home build in LA is an exceptionally complex process. You’re required to submit architectural and engineered plans to the city to obtain building, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical permits before you can even begin construction. Even single room additions and renovations will require some city inspection whenever dealing with new wiring, plumbing, or structure. That’s why it’s crucial to have a healthy understanding of city requirements, permitting, and associated costs anytime you are planning to build.

One of the most significant resources you have available is excellent contract work and advisors who can guide you through the processes. Bela Development’s team of experts has the know-how you need to get your project completed. We’ve outlined a few important factors when it comes to planning for a home build in Los Angeles. Keep reading to learn more and hit the ground running on your upcoming construction project.

Sketch of home building design

Ask for permission, not for forgiveness

“Ask for forgiveness, not for permission” doesn’t apply when it comes to LA County building permits. The building and planning departments set harsh measures to ensure homeowner and contractor safety during and after construction. It’s essential to make sure you’re playing by the rules for two primary reasons:

  1. Your adherence to building regulations protects you if you sell or rent out your home in the future.
  2. You can’t be fined or shut down if the city comes to inspect work that was not properly permitted.

Better planning will help you set accurate expectations for construction. Work out a timeline with your contractors and prioritize permit applications to account for bureaucratic delays from the outset.

Home building permit plans

Make informed decisions

The city won’t forgive you for permitting mistakes that you could have foreseen. Be precise with your research on city-specific regulations and get plan checks as frequently as possible. If you have a specific contact at the planning department, try to run through your plans and permit needs whenever possible. Work with a trusted contractor to ensure accuracy when it comes to such matters. A general contractor can work with you to establish a permitting plan and may even have some helpful government relations in your city.

If you’re building or remodeling a home in Los Angeles, run your plans by your HOA as well. You might run into issues with exterior remodeling, floor additions, or even paint colors with your HOA that weren’t in the city regulations.

contractor looking over blueprints

Be realistic with your timeline

New LA building permits dropped by 45% in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 closures. With permit applications expected to pick up quickly, the planning department may be slow to accept new permits. If you’re planning to start new construction this year, get a head start on your engineered plans. Once they’re submitted, your initial plan review should take about two weeks. Factor that into your timeline and work closely with your contractors to communicate any changes.

Do your research

The more preliminary research you do yourself, the better. LA Public Works provides a pretty thorough breakdown of Residential Building Code Requirements that should help you understand the permitting process’s scope. Skim through their information packet and compile a list of questions that you might have. A city plan engineer should be available by phone or email to help you perfect your plans and ensure they’re ready for the initial permit review.

Home construction site

Factor permitting costs into your budget

You’ll need to pay for city permits upfront, which can make a dent in your overall budget. If you’re worried about spending, inquire about all of the necessary permit costs and factor them into your projected spend before submitting anything. A planning engineer should help you estimate these costs before hiring engineers and architects to work on your official construction plans.

Be prepared for inspections

Incorporate planned inspections into your timeline and plan to hit your deadlines. If you miss an inspection or aren’t ready for one, it could delay your project while you wait for a new date. Do your best to meet all of the requirements and ensure each inspection goes smoothly without requiring a follow-up. If you need to make changes, take steps to implement those requests quickly and update the city with your progress.

Los Angeles Building Permits ensure safe construction during a home build or remodel. The more you inform yourself of the regulations and requirements, the more successful your project will be. Schedule a free consultation with Bela Development to discuss your project needs and learn how our expert permitting team can speed up your project and give you excellent results.