Permit Problems: What Are the Requirements of a Building Permit?
In 2020 106,075 building permits were approved in the state of California.
Don’t let that high number fool you into thinking obtaining a building permit is an “easy” process.
California may be the third-highest state with the most building permit approvals, but its building process also comes with a lot of unique caveats.
Here’s what you need to know about obtaining a building permit.
Accurately Calculate Fees
Fees will vary depending on what and where you’re building.
If you’re building in coastal California, there’s a good chance you’re going to owe some fees when it comes to acquiring a building permit. San Diego County Building and Development Services provides an in-depth guide to residential and commercial building fees.
Research the zoning regulations for your specific lot.
You’ll need to verify that you are seeking approval for the appropriate building permits and that your project is in compliance with zoning ordinances. You will need to assess what the building will be used for if it’s adequate for the lot size, its height, density, and proximity to flood plains, airports, scenic and historic regions.
Create a Plot Plan
You will need to submit two complete plot plans that meet the required specifications for your city, county, and the state of California.
This will be your building’s “first impression,” so be sure to check all of the boxes in the “Minimum Plot Plan Information” checklist provided by San Diego County. Ensure that you’ve checked all of the necessary requirements for your specific type of building and zoning ordinance, and communicate them in your plan.
Get Building Plans Approved
You’ll need to schedule an appointment to submit your building plans with the Building Plan Pre-Submittal Review (BPPR) for approval.
If you submit quality plans, the BPPR staff will review the plans “over the counter” while you wait. At the end of the review, you will likely receive a list of corrections and clearances you must obtain, then you must resubmit the plan.
Complete Building Permit Application
There are different applications for different building types.
Ensure that you are completing the correct application for your building proposal. You will need to schedule an appointment to have the application reviewed and approved or returned with corrections. You need grading permits and must submit them separately after building plan approval.
Make and Return Corrections and Clearances
You must describe in detail how your correct the deficiencies listed by the BPPR in a “response list.” You will also likely need to get clearances from many agencies. These agencies include electrical, plumbing, engineering, and more.
Pass Fire Inspection
Once your corrected building plans are approved, the San Diego County Fire Marshal needs to review your proposal.
The fire department will review your plans and give them a literal stamp of approval if they are compliant with preventative and responsive fire safety measures. If you receive corrections, you must make them, then resubmit them.
Obtain Permit and Pay Fees
You’ll get an invoice before you receive your building permit. You must pay all fees before receiving an official building permit. Ensure that your approved plans have all the supporting documentation.
Begin Construction and Get Inspections
Even though you’ve received a building permit, your land and building will have to also pass inspections from various agencies. It’s best to start the inspection process as soon as possible since notices that need to be addressed and changed can cause significant delays in the construction process.
In worst-case scenarios, an inspector could flag an issue that requires you to revise your building plans, which requires you to start the permit process over. This is why adequate research at the very beginning of this process is so vital to your success. Once you’ve passed all inspections, you’ve generally graduated from the building permit phase of your project.
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