Part of every major home remodel in Los Angeles is obtaining the necessary building permit for your project. The city of Los Angeles requires a permit to be issued for different types of work including structural, plumbing and electrical to name a few. In this post, we’ll break down the process of obtaining a permit for a major remodel and tell you about the costs involved.

Get in touch with your local code official

You can visit your local LABDS Developments Service Center office and speak with a code official about your major remodeling project. You will be asked to provide some basic details about your project (location, scope of work), inform you of any requirements and, if needed, refer you to other departments for their approval. Click here to see all the LADBS Developments Service Center office locations.

Find our zoning and property information

If you’re not planning on making any structural changes, there is no need to check zoning and property information.

However, if you’re changing the structure or adding, this is the first step that tells you what you can and can’t do. If you’re adding extra square footage to your home or building an ADU, you will need to check your zoning and property information to find out how much, how high, and where you’re allowed to build. These requirements and limitations are different based on the zone of your lot and its location. For example, a lot on a flat area in the city will have different regulations than a lot in a hillside area. In addition, there are areas of the city such as the Mulholland Scenic Parkway under ordinances that designate a Specific Plan with its own requirements.

Design your project and create building plans

If your project falls under any of the construction types under Express Permit, which are projects that don’t involve structural changes or additions, you don’t need create building plans. You will need to submit a permit application and provide a rough sketch or a basic drawing showing approximately how the existing area of work looks like and what you’re proposing to do. To check if your project falls under any of the construction types in Express Permit click here.

If your major remodel project includes making structural changes or additions, you’ll need to submit plans and go through the plan check process. Plans must be readable and correctly showing the work you want to do. The city wants to see you will be required to submit the following:

  • Plot Plan- needed for projects that involve adding square footage or an ADU (such as a guest house). It is a drawing of your existing lot with the structures on it. It includes your lots measurements and exterior dimensions of the structures on it. Once you have your plot plan, you can begin designing your new proposed plan taking in consideration setbacks and guidelines.
  • Floor Plan- a floor plan showing the existing house (or area you will work on) and the new proposed plan. Must include full measurements details.
  • Framing Plan- done by an engineer, the framing plan details the size and spacing of the structural members and connections in the building’s framework. Framing plan must include load calculations.
  • Foundation Plan- drawing of foundation your proposing (raised or slab) including details for metal, concrete and wood to be used.
  • Elevations- showing front, side, rear and split elevations of the structure you’re proposing.
  • Construction Details- details of how the construction components will be assembled in compliance to regulations and requirements.
  • Energy Conservation Details- these are details of how you’re going to be in compliance with energy conservation requirements such as title 24.

It is highly recommended that you use an experienced designer, architect and structural engineer to assist you with the drawings and plans above.

Construction plans made by your engineer must include design calculations, stamp and signature attached to the plans.

Submit plans and complete a permit application

Visit your local LADBS Development Services Center to submit your permit application and plans. Your plans will be reviewed for approximately 3-4 weeks (depending on workload) to make sure your project complies with local requirements.

Note: If your major remodel doesn’t involve structural changes or additions you don’t need to file building plans and can obtain a permit the same day. You can visit any LADBS Development Services Center to apply for a permit. The code official will review the work your proposing, tell you if you need to make any changes, charge you city fees and provide you with a permit for your project.

Review process

Your plans are reviewed and returned with corrections and clearances from different departments depending on your project. Obtaining the necessary clearances for your project and making changes to the plans based on corrections takes approximately 1-2 weeks (in some cases it may take longer). You can submit your plans a second time after making the corrections requested and getting clearance approvals. It takes another 2-3 weeks for the city to respond with a permit approval or more corrections.

What are clearances?

Based on the scope, different departments and agencies such as Planning, Fire, Public Works, Transportation, CRA LA, Housing, DWP, Cultural Affairs, Health, AQMD, LAUSD, Oil and Gas, Cal OSHA will need a separate approval for the work your proposing.

Permits and city fees

Once your plans are approved, you can pull a permit the same day and can start your construction project. Don’t worry, if you’re not ready to start construction, you don’t have to get a permit right away. Your plans are good for later use. However, building codes are changing all the time, so, if you wait too long to pull a permit you may need to update your plans to the current building codes.

What are the building permit fees based on? Fees are based on the size of the job and cover the cost of your application, review and inspections. After paying building permit fees, a permit is issued along with an inspection card and you have legal permission to start your project.

How much will my permit & plan check cost? It depends. From our experience, cost of city fees for a major remodel are:

  • Major remodel (without adding square footage): anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 +.
  • Major remodel with addition (up to 500 sq. ft) anywhere from $2500 to $5000+
  • Major remodel with addition (over 500 sq. ft) $5,000-$8,000 +

How long is a permit good for? Your permit is good for two years from the date it was issued. However, your permit will expire if no work has begun within six months from issuance, or if work started but then stopped for over six months.

Inspections

Depending on the size of your project, inspections must be scheduled with a code official (inspector). The inspector is there to make sure work is in accordance to the plans, building codes and safety standards. An inspector is a second set of eyes that makes sure your project is done correctly and safely. Inspections are usually for foundation, concrete work, wood framing, ventilation, plumbing, electrical, wall & roof nailing, drywall, etc.

Final approval

When your project is complete and the inspector has signed off final inspection, your project is approved, and you can have a piece of mind that your project meets safety standards.

At Levi Construction, our experienced in-house architect, designer and builders know the ins and outs of streamlining the designing, planning and permitting process for your major home remodel in Los Angeles. Contact us today for to get more information and get a free quote.

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