California requires any major construction to be permitted to ensure that it is in compliance with all the applicable laws and ordinances and is safe and habitable for its occupants.
However, many homeowners in the state snub the permitting process to avoid delays and save the costs associated with it. Performing work without necessary paperwork may not only cause safety issues but also lead to code enforcement action by the building department, which may result in both fines and penalties.
Luckily, if you are in Los Angeles, you have a process for retroactive permitting. This means you can obtain a building permit after the fact without having to completely tear it down and start from scratch.
Here is everything you should know about getting your unpermitted work permitted after the fact.
Repercussions of Building without a Permit
When the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) becomes aware of the work done without necessary paperwork and zoning approvals, a city inspector will visit to determine whether a permit was actually required.
The inspector will most probably ask you to open up some walls to look that if it was done correctly. If a violation is discovered, you may be asked to perform remedial work that may involve tearing down and rebuilding portions of the work or demolishing the entire structure in the worst-case scenarios.
You may have to pay a code violation fee somewhere between $350 to $600, which may increase from $1200-$1500 if not paid within the specified time (30 days in most cases). If you fail to address the non-compliance, late penalties may go up to $2000, and the city may pursue criminal charges against you.
However, if you are attempting to legalize the work that was by a previous owner and you weren’t aware of it when purchasing the property, the city may be more lenient with you. It is highly likely that they won’t charge you for any penalties that a permit post-construction incurs, and may give you more flexible deadlines to bring the work into compliance.
Here is all you should know about what happens when you are caught without a building permit.
How to Obtain a Retroactive Building Permit
The process of pulling a retroactive building permit is much like a regular one. The steps involved in getting an unpermitted work approved after the fact include;
· Meeting with the Planning Department
· Hiring an Architect or Designer to Draw Plans
· Submittal of Documents for Design Review
· Scheduling Initial Inspection
· Necessary Remedial Work & Final Inspection
Learn more about the process of obtaining a retroactive permit for your unpermitted construction here.
Cost of Pulling a Permit after the Fact
The cost of legalizing your unpermitted work may vary depending on its size, scope, and value. Before applying for a retroactive building permit, it is advisable to hire a contractor to examine to get an idea of how much it would cost to bring the work in accordance with the code requirements.
Needless to say, the best way to avoid dealing with these potentials is to get work permits as needed. However, if the work has already been done, it is a great decision to legalize it to live without fear of city inspectors and above all, ensure that you and your family are safe in your home. Navigating issues involving work done without necessary permits, however, can be complicated. It is advisable to consult a local permitting expert who knows the potential issues/pitfalls of the issues arising from unpermitted work.
Building Permit Experts Los Angeles
For years, we at CCS Inc have been helping property owners in Los Angeles bring their unpermitted into compliance.
No matter what type of work you want in your property to be retroactively permitted, we can figure out the best possible solution for you.