You’re ready to add on to your home in Los Angeles. You have the plans in your head, you’re already dreaming of the extra square footage, but before you even call a contractor, you need to look into permits. It is required by law to have the proper permits and inspections completed on your home, whether you are remodeling, building from scratch or adding to the existing structure.

First Things First: Hire the Right Contractor

In the state of California — regardless of what area you live in California — your contractor must be licensed with the California State License Board or CSLB. If you aren’t sure whether or not your contractor is licensed, you can call their toll-free number at 800-321-2752. Start your search on Porch and see who has completed the most projects in your neighborhood. You can see their endorsements, project photos and average costs. You can also Claim Your Home and see nearby professionals who have worked in your neighborhood. Read this article about what questions to ask your contractor.

The Process of Adding On

Adding on to your home is exciting! Whether you’re building that new master suite that you have always dreamed of or you’re adding a playroom to the side of the house, you’re embarking on an adventure. There is a process to construction in California, and it is important you follow that process.

  1. Gather zoning information and property information.
  2. Design your new add-on and get professional plans drawn up.
  3. Submit your plans to the building and safety department to complete your permit application.
  4. Wait for your plans to be approved and your permit issued.
  5. Complete construction and go through an inspection.
  6. Complete the final inspection and receive a Certificate of Occupancy (deeming the new add-on safe to live in).

Can’t My Contractor Do All of That?

Most contractors can handle the entire add-on process. They are able to get the zoning and property information, hire people to draw up plans and even apply for building permits on your behalf. But, if for some reason your home is in the improper zoning, you have just paid a professional to do a bunch of work that won’t do you any good.

So, it is recommended that you do the zoning and property information search yourself. Buildings have specific zoning information that is listed in California’s Zoning Code. These requirements are based by neighborhood, but the information is highly complex. Therefore, it is in your best interest to visit the Zoning counter at your Department of Construction Services Center. The clerk will look up your address and tell you if your home is in a zone approved for additional construction.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you need a building permit for your project, visit the CSLB site. You can look up the requirements for permits by your city and find necessary contact information for your permit as well. Be sure to look for your contractor on Porch, and download your home’s Home Report, to keep on top of permits.