City Permits

Some things I just wanted people to be aware of in relation to building a house, remodeling, and or additions. Many home renovation projects do not require city permits and plans. However, you NEED to check with your city in case so you do not hit delays. Having the right knowledge under your belt is always a challenge, especially when it comes to building. If you didn’t know this already, every city has different requirements for building. California is one of the most strict places for building requirements due to the environmental laws here. It can be a huge pain, but of course you can understand why they do it. Some of our most frustrating issues for our build are:

Set backs: A setback is a requirement to build your house at a certain distance from neighbors and the streets surrounding your property. Each zoning has different set backs. This can be a HUGE problem or a HUGE benefit to owning or building on specific lots. If you’re trying to get the most house on a property look for a property that goes up to an alley or backs onto a larger street sometimes these zoned areas can require a smaller setback. This is not always the case and you need to check this out.

Environmental Requirements: I love trees you guys, I love plants etc, however the requirements for the [ im not sure the exact name ] is out of control. The city wants me to plant 7 canopy trees on my lot. That is SOOO much on a 6000 sq ft lot. My house takes up half of it, and I love to have a garden which requires full sun. If I have 7 canopy trees I definitely will not have full sun on any large part of the back yard. This is pretty stressful as I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to plant them closer together to achieve this or plant them and then take them out later which is a HUGE waste to me. We’re still figuring out how to make all these requirements work within our design. This is where a landscape designer comes in handy.

Beams: This isn’t a problem currently because we figured it out ( I think) however it can be a problem when an engineer gets crazy with steel beams. Sometimes Engineers “over engineer” things to be safe. I get it, it’s their butt on the line when it comes to the safety of the home. However, if you have a good contractor, they can help the engineer come up with alternative ideas of support for wood beams. Steel beams are at best double the cost of wood beams. Avoid them if you can! haha. Sometimes with the span it is unavoidable but if you can help it, try not to have too many.

Appointments with the city: Sometimes you can wait for any city engineer for a small correction, however sometimes you can’t. Sometimes they want you to see the same person over and over. We had many issues with our expedited plans for some reason and they told us we had to wait extra weeks during our corrections. Now if I wasn’t raised by MY mother, I wouldn’t have pushed as hard to get to a manager to overturn this. They ended up moving us to a new engineer because we asked for it. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” right?

Don’t assume you know what your city requires: If you know what other cities require, you don’t know what another city requires. Don’t assume anything or else it could cost you time and money. Seriously.

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