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Do I Need a Permit to Build a Deck in Los Angeles?

With nearly four million residents, Los Angeles is the largest city in California. It’s safe to say that at any given moment, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people working on or planning a home improvement project. These types of projects not only increase the value of your home but also make your home more livable.

When planning a home improvement project, such as building a deck, you’ll want to consider several factors, including your budget, the timeline, whether you’re going to do the work yourself or hire a licensed contractor, and legalities such as permits. Do you need a permit to build a deck in Los Angeles?

When Does Los Angeles Require a Permit?

Image via Flickr by NLT CONSTRUCTION

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The city of Los Angeles requires a building permit for the following construction projects:

  • Grading work.
  • New, expanded, or replaced electrical, mechanical, or plumbing items.
  • Renovations and remodels.
  • Accessory dwelling unit conversions.
  • Additions to buildings.
  • New buildings.
  • Tenant improvements.
  • Miscellaneous items including decks and patios, as well as fences over six feet, ADA striping and path of travel, pools, fireplaces, and more.

Building permits are not generally required for cosmetic changes such as repainting your home’s exterior or interior, replacing the carpet, installing hardwood floors, or adding trims such as baseboard, casing, or crown molding.

As you can see, Los Angeles does require a building permit for decks, so you must take the necessary steps to obtain a building permit prior to starting construction on your property.

What Is a Building Permit?

Some home improvement projects require a building permit, which is permission from the city to begin construction on your property. This legal document provides the city with a record that permanent construction on your property met all current building codes and followed all specifications and approved plans. Permits may also provide a record of final approval and completed inspections. Each city will have its own requirements for building permits, and it’s important to check with your city prior to beginning construction.

If you do not obtain a building permit when one is required, the construction is deemed illegal. Illegal construction can affect the resale value of your home, and any insurance claims regarding the illegal construction may be denied. The city can also pursue demolition of the unpermitted building project as well as civil or criminal prosecution. If you’re unsure whether or not you need a permit for your deck, it’s best to double-check before starting construction.

What Is the Process of Obtaining a Building Permit?

A property owner, a contractor with the appropriate licensing, or an agent authorized to represent one of these two permittees can apply for a building permit. In Los Angeles, you’ll contact your local Building and Safety District Office to obtain an application for a building permit. You can also apply online via the Los Angeles County’s Electronic Permitting and Inspection website. You’ll complete the application detailing your home improvement plan for adding a deck to your property and submit a fee. Your plan will be reviewed to determine if a building permit is required and whether it will be granted.

Once approved, you’ll be provided with the proper permit documentation to get started on the construction of your deck. Keep in mind that your permit will expire if work is not started on your deck within 12 months of issuance or if the work lapses for more than 180 days at any time after you’ve begun construction.

If your permit expires, you can apply in writing for an extension of 180 days. More than one extension can be granted if you need it. You’ll just need to repeat the written extension request. You may be required to pay an extension fee of up to 25% of the original permit fee. If your permit expires and you do not request an extension and later wish to begin work again on your deck, you’ll need to start the application process over for a new permit.

Do I Need to Hire a Contractor?

There are provisions that allow some home improvement projects to be completed by the property owner; however, most construction projects require a contractor. Again, you’ll want to consult with your local Building and Safety District Office to determine if your project requires a qualified, licensed contractor to complete construction. You’ll also want to contact your homeowner’s insurance agent to determine if your homeowner’s policy will cover a deck built by you instead of a licensed contractor.

A licensed contractor is knowledgeable about building codes and regulations that your construction project must meet. Hiring a contractor also ensures that your construction meets the minimum requirements for safety. Contractors have the experience and knowledge to assist with planning deck construction from beginning to end, keeping your budget and needs in mind. If problems arise along the way, they are also able to deal with them appropriately. Once you hire a contractor, you can sit back and relax. They will take care of everything from permits to purchasing materials and building the deck to final inspections.

What Is the Purpose of Building Codes?

Building codes for Los Angeles are building management and construction guidelines designed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the home’s occupants as well as the community. These codes regulate the design, alterations, and maintenance procedures of all buildings in Los Angeles County. Building codes can also address the control of energy-efficient and green buildings to ensure that those projects meet specific guidelines. Building codes include requirements for decks regarding railings, spacing, the level above grade, footings, and more. Instead of researching all the regulations surrounding a deck, you may be better off hiring a licensed contractor.

If you’re a homeowner in Los Angeles looking to maintain, protect, or restore your deck, contact the knowledgeable team at TeakMaster. We specialize in the unique needs of all wood types for decks as it relates to the California weather. We’ve been taking care of decking needs for over twenty years and would be happy to provide you with a quote for your home deck project. You can contact us online or give us a call at 888-448-8325.

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