Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I report a violation (construction without a permit)?
A: You may report a suspected violation in the unincorporated county areas by going to our Report a Violation page or by contacting the local Building and Safety district office. For suspected violations in an incorporated city, please contact the city directly. To determine which district office or city serves you, please refer to our Service Locator.
Report a Violation Service Locator
Q: How long is a Building application plan check good for?
A: A plan check application submitted to the Building and Safety Division is good for one year following the initial plan check submittal date. If a building permit is not obtained within that time, the plan check will expire. You may request an extension of 180 days by submitting a written request prior to expiration and paying an extension fee equal to 25% of the original plan check fee. A maximum of two extensions may be permitted. Please contact your local district office for further information.
Once a plan check and any extensions have expired, the applicant shall resubmit plans and pay a new plan check fee.
Q: How big and how high can I build my house or room addition?
A: Lot coverage, height requirements, yard setbacks, and land use are determined by the County of Los Angeles Zoning Code. Please refer to the Department of Regional Planning website for more information on zoning requirements.
Department of Regional Planning
Q: I've been told that I don't need permits for buildings that are 120 sq. ft. or less. Is that true?
A: One-story detached accessory buildings used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, which do not exceed 120 sq. ft. of gross floor area and a maximum plate height of 12 feet, are exempt from a building permit. However, any electrical, plumbing or mechanical equipment installed in these structures do require separate permits. In addition, all structures regardless of the size must comply with applicable zoning requirements. Please refer to the Department of Regional Planning website for more information on zoning requirements.
Department of Regional Planning
Q: Where can I find the original plans for my house?
A: The County of Los Angeles Building Code requires that building plans be retained for a minimum of 90 days from the date of completion of the work covered on the plans. After 90 days, residential plans are typically discarded. The space required to store plans for every house built in the unincorporated county areas makes it prohibitive to keep them. One possible option for finding the as-built plans for any structure is to contact the original builder, designer, and/or engineer. This information can typically be found on the original building permit.
Q: What are permit fees based on?
A: Building permit fees are based on the total value of all construction work, as well as all finish work, for which the permit is issued. You may refer to our Fees page for currently adopted fee schedules.
Q: What is a Type V sheet and how do I get one?
A: A Type V sheet is a detail sheet summarizing the "Conventional Light-Frame Construction" requirements specified in Chapter 23 of the Building Code for single story residential construction. Any portion of construction that does not meet the specific requirements of conventional light-frame construction requires engineering.
The Type V sheet is an informational tool only and is not intended to be used in lieu of building plans. A copy of a Type V sheet may be found by going to our Forms and Publications page and clicking on the "Building - Handouts"
Forms and Publications
Q: How long is a permit good for?
A: A permit shall expire and become null and void if,
1) The work authorized by the permit is not started within 180 days of the date of permit issuance, or
2) The work is suspended or abandoned at any time after the work is started for a period of 180 days.
Before any work can recommence on an expired permit, a new permit will be required and a fee equal to 50% of the original permit fee shall be payable provided the suspension or abandonment has not exceeded one year. If the suspension or abandonment has exceeded one year, a new permit will be required and full permit fees shall be paid.
Q: How can I obtain a copy of the codes?
A: The 2007 California Building, Electrical, Plumbing, and Mechanical Codes are available for review at your local Building and Safety district office or they may be purchased from ICC, BNi, or IAPMO. The 2008 County of Los Angeles Building, Electrical, Plumbing, and Mechanical Code amendments to the 2007 California Codes are available by going to our Code Standards and Guidelines page and following the appropriate links.
Addresses and hours of operation for each Building and Safety district office and contract city are available on our Local Offices page.
ICC BNi IAPMO Code Standards and Guidelines Local Offices
Q: How do I determine where my property lines are?
A: Building and Safety does not have any information or maps showing the location of property lines. Property lines can only be accurately located by having your property surveyed. For more information, and to verify the license of a surveyor, please refer to the California Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors website.
CA Board for Prof. Engineers Land Surveyors
Q: Where do I go to get permits for my house?
A: Applications for new permits and records of existing permits are handled and maintained in our district offices. To determine which district office or city serves you, please refer to our Service Locator.
Q: Do I need a permit to construct a block wall (fence) on my property?
A: In the unincorporated county areas, a building permit is required for the following:
1) Fences or free standing block walls over 6 feet in height,
2) Retaining walls supporting level grade which measure over 4 feet from the bottom of the foundation to the top of the wall, and
3) Retaining walls of any height supporting a surcharge or slope.
Although fences and walls may be exempt from a building permit, they may still require zoning approval from the Department of Regional Planning. Please refer to the Department of Regional Planning website for more information on zoning requirements.
If you live in an incorporated city, check with your city building department to determine if a building permit is required. To determine which district office or city serves you, please refer to our Service Locator.
Department of Regional Planning Service Locator
Question not here? Search our FAQ System
Have another question? Submit a new question