Anytime you start a building project in California, it’s important to make sure you have all the right tools for the job. These include the building permits needed to complete the project. Failing to obtain the necessary permits before commencing work can result in costly penalties and fees and may impact your ability to work in the future.
Obtaining a building permit may seem like a hassle, especially if the project is small and can be completed quickly. However, neglecting to obtain the proper permits isn’t something the State of California or its many counties take lightly.
Even unintentional failures can be met with harsh penalties. With that in mind, it’s wise to consult a California construction attorney if you have any doubts about whether you need a permit for your next undertaking.
When Permits Are Required in California
One of the duties of an experienced construction attorney is to help contractors and homeowners understand when permits are needed for various construction projects. Permit laws and the penalties for violating them are a confusing patchwork of state and local laws and regulations that homeowners and contractors may not fully appreciate.
The California Building Standards Code requires that a permit be obtained for any building or structure before it’s “erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted, or demolished.”
This requirement encompasses nearly any new construction or renovation project and applies to each structure or building on which work is performed.
Licensed contractors in California must obtain the requisite permits from the city, county, or town where the work will be completed. This process can be long and frustrating, as multiple departments may need to review an application for a building permit.
For example, if you apply for a building permit in Colusa County, your application will be reviewed by:
- The Planning Department
- The Building Department
- The Environmental Health Department
- The local fire department
- The Public Works Department
You must also pay any attendant fees before the permit will be approved.
Because of the number of departments involved in obtaining a building permit, contractors are advised to allow a minimum of four to six weeks for the process to conclude. In some cases, a construction attorney may be able to help get a permit approved if an application becomes stalled.
Penalties for Not Obtaining Permits
Considering all the work involved in obtaining building permits, it’s understandable why some contractors might neglect to do so.
However, this decision can have serious financial and other consequences. Each failure to obtain a necessary permit can carry a $5,000 penalty in addition to any permit fees and other costs imposed by the local authorities.
Even worse, permit violations could lead to the suspension or revocation of a contractor’s license. This disciplinary action would affect a contractor’s ability to work and require additional action from an attorney with experience in business and commercial law to reinstate the license.
When to Involve a California Construction Attorney
Turning to an experienced construction attorney from Alves Radcliffe early in your building or renovation project can provide you with much-needed counseling and support. Such advocacy can keep you from running into needless and costly permit errors as your project proceeds. Whether you’re still in the early planning stages or you’ve encountered a permitting issue that’s preventing you from moving forward with your project, our firm can help. Contact us today to discuss your concerns and allow us to help you with your legal needs.