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Building Permits

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WHAT IS A BUILDING PERMIT?

A building permit is a license that grants legal permission to construct or alter a structure. It is, then, a license to build. In general, a permit is required for all activities that are regulated by the City Building Code or its referenced codes. The permit causes the work to be reviewed, approved and inspected to confirm compliance with the Code.

WHY IS A PERMIT REQUIRED?

  • Provide a means to protect the public health, safety and welfare by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction.
  • Provide a means to review, approve and inspect construction to ensure that minimum standards for materials and methods are used.
  • Help the public understand local laws and ordinances affecting building construction.

WHEN IS A PERMIT REQUIRED?

Most building projects will require a permit of some kind. This is necessary to ensure that all buildings meet minimum standards that protect its occupants and neighbors, not only in everyday living, but also in case of emergencies and natural disasters.

Permits are required for all buildings or structures erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished unless a separate permit for each building or structure has first been obtained from the building official. Additionally, all block walls 6 feet or higher require a building permit.

TYPES OF PERMITS

  • Building Permit is required to construct or modify a building or structure.
  • Electrical Permit is required to install or modify an electrical system.
  • Plumbing Permit is required to install or modify a plumbing system.
  • Mechanical Permit is required to install or modify heating, ventilation, refrigeration, air conditioning and other related systems.
  • Combination Building Permit if working on a single family home or duplex, a Combination Building Permit may cover all of the building, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical work necessary for the job. Likewise, Combination Building Permits are issued for commercial construction projects as well.
  • Demolition Permit to demolish any structure.
  • A Building Permit is required for any block wall and retaining wall four feet high from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall. The Planning Division must review and approve all fence/wall plans and design to ensure compliance with zoning regulations.

SOLAR PERMITS

Another common type of permit is a Solar Permit for the installation of one- and two- family residential solar photovoltaic energy systems 10kW or less. The plans and permits for these systems are eligible for expedited processing upon successful completion of an Eligibility Checklist for Expedited Residential Solar Permitting.  (Please note that derating of the electrical service panel to accommodate a solar installation is not permitted.)

GENERAL PERMIT PROCESS

The following are general steps in the process of obtaining a permit and inspection approvals:

  • An application must be prepared, plans submitted, and plan review fees paid.
  • Plans are reviewed for compliance with applicable codes and State Law and are either approved or a set of corrections prepared.
  • If corrections are required, corrected plans are submitted, reviewed, and approved.
  • The owner, or the contractor, pays the permit fee (and any other applicable fees) obtains the permit, a set of approved plans, and an Inspection Record Card for posting on the site. Inspections for compliance with the approved plans are made at key times during construction and before work is concealed, and approvals recorded on the Inspection Record card. When the work is totally complete, a final inspection is made, the work approved, the connection of utilities is authorized, and a Certificate of Occupancy is issued. 

The following general conditions apply to all permits::

  • A permit is required prior to starting any work.
  • Permits are available to properly licensed contractors working on behalf of and authorized tenant or property owner. However, permits are available to owners of single family dwellings and two family dwellings provided the work is installed by the owner, or a member of the immediate family, and the owner resides or intends to reside in such dwelling.
  • Permits become null and void if work authorized is not commenced within 180 days of the issuance date or if such work is suspended or abandoned at any time after the work is commenced for a period of 180 days.
  • No work shall be covered or concealed without first having been inspected and approved.

CODES AND LAWS

The Community Development Department is the agency charged with the administration and enforcement of municipal zoning and building regulations and requirements prescribed by California State law Title 24. The City of Buena Park adopts the following California codes as the municipal building laws of the community:

  • California Building Code
  • California Mechanical Code
  • California Plumbing Code
  • California Electrical Code
  • California Energy Code 
  • California Green Building Standards

These codes are followed by all California cities and counties with some minor modification depending on the jurisdiction. The Community Development Department also enforces certain State of California requirements for minimum housing, energy conservation, workers' compensation certificates, and access for the physically disabled.

WHO CAN OBTAIN A PERMIT?

Permits are issued to duly licensed contractors. However, a homeowner can obtain a permit to do the construction, alteration or repair of a one or two-family dwelling and accessory buildings or facilities thereto if:

  • The owner resides or intends to reside in the dwelling, showing proof of residence;
  • The construction is performed by the owner, and
  • The owner signs a statement that no person will be employed in a manner as to become subject to the workers' compensation laws of the State of California. When a permit is taken out, the signature and identity of the applicant must be verified. A California Driver's License, State of California Identification Card, or other positive identification will meet this requirement. Contractors working in the City of Buena Park are required to have a Buena Park business license. If a contractor has employees, proof of Workers' Compensation Insurance must be shown at the time of permit issuance. Contractors working alone may waive this requirement, but must show a pocket copy of their State Contractor's License.

Building Permit Application


WORK EXEMPT FROM A PERMIT

A building permit shall not be required for the following:

  • One-story detached accessory buildings used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet (11.15 m2)
  • Fences not over 6 feet (1829 mm) high. Planning Division must review and approve all fence/wall plans to ensure compliance with zoning regulations.
  • Oil derricks.
  • Movable cases, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches (1753 mm) high.
  • Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet (1219 mm) in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II or III-A liquids.
  • Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons (18 927 L) and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2:1.
  • Platforms, walks and driveways not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above grade and not over any basement or story below.
  • Painting, papering and similar finish work.
  • Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.
  • Window awnings supported by an exterior wall of Group R, Division 3, and Group U Occupancies when projecting not more than 54 inches (1372 mm).
  • Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R, Division 3 Occupancy in which the pool walls are entirely above the adjacent grade and if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons (18 927 L).

DigAlert - UNDERGROUND SERVICE ALERT

Per California Government Code 4216, prior to digging or doing any excavation work you are required to contact DigAlert - Underground Service Alert of Southern California. You may contact them by dialing 811 on your phone or through their website www.digalert.org

If you have questions or need assistance, please feel free to contact the staff of the Building Division at (714) 562-3636 or (714) 562-3629.