Which Projects Require Permits?

Why are Permits Important?

The permit process is one of the most important parts of any construction process; however, it is often the most misunderstood by both home owners and contractors. Permits require municipalities to inspect construction processes and approve work once it is completed in order to ensure that the project meets minimum levels of health and safety. Work not done to code can compromise the safety of a structure, present significant disclosure issues when the property is sold, and may affect insurance coverage in the event of an accident or property damage resulting from the work performed. In order to avoid such liabilities, it is important to ensure that your association and contractor are well informed on California Business Code (CBC) laws.

For some quick tips on permits, click here.

When are Permits Required?

The CBC, derived from the International Building Code, will help managers and managers understand what types of projects do and do not require permits. Permit laws apply to work done by anyone, whether a contractor, home owner or association. §105.2 of the CBC states that any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish, or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing system, the installation of which is regulated by this code, or to cause any such work to be done, shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required permit.

Projects Exempt from Permits

Section 105.2 includes the projects exempt from permits. Exemptions from permit requirements of this code shall not be deemed to grant authorization for any work to be done in any manner in violation of the provisions of this code or other laws or ordinances of this jurisdiction. Permits shall not be required for specific electrical, gas, mechanical, plumbing projects, as well as certain small building projects. Read more here.

Special Cases

Section 105.2.1: Emergency Repairs – Where equipment replacements and repairs must be performed in an emergency situation, the permit application shall be submitted within the next working business day to the building official.

Section 105.2.2: Ordinary Repairs – Application or notice to the building official is not required for ordinary repairs to structures, replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles. Ordinary repairs shall not include:

  1. The cutting away of any wall, partition or portion thereof
  2. The removal or cutting of any structural beam or load-bearing support
  3. The removal or change of any required means of egress, or rearrangement of parts of a structure affecting the egress requirements
  4. Alteration, replacement or relocation of any standpipe, water supply, sewer or waste, drainage or drain leader, gas, soil, vent or similar piping, or electric wiring
  5. Mechanical or other work affecting egress requirements, public health or general safety.

Adapted from “When is a Permit Required?” by John R. Schneider.