Are you selling your home and getting the short end of the stick because of past unpermitted work?
These days, both scenarios are common enough, and there are plenty of reasons your project may have gone without the building department’s green light. Maybe it seemed like a minor DIY job and you didn’t even think you’d need a permit. Or, your home’s previous owner remodeled without permits and you didn’t think to inspect the home or inquire about permits before the transaction. Perhaps, a sketchy contractor has led you astray.
Regardless, it is a good decision to correct the situation and legalize previously unpermitted work. Once your paperwork is in order, you can sell or refinance your home without worry and live without fear of city inspectors. What’s more important - you will know that you and your family are SAFE in your home.
A retroactive permit application is much like a regular one, as it allows the Building Department to confirm that the work complies with all current codes (not ones in effect during construction). To this end, building officials will review your project’s as-built drawings and inspect the work.
Depending on the work performed, you may have to submit architectural, structural, as well as mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) drawings with your application. These must reflect the dimensions, geometry, and location of all elements as they were after construction was completed. Because many of these elements are concealed behind drywall, verifying their layout is often a challenging task.
The drawings must be legible and drafted to recognized architectural standards. Depending on the project, your drawings may need the stamp of a registered architect or licensed engineer; click here to find out more.
Besides drawings, your retroactive permit application may require supporting documents, such as structural calculations, Title 24 report and calculations, and the CALGreen compliance form. Your building department may also ask for a qualified testing agency’s written confirmation that steel reinforcement has been installed per the approved plans if reinforced concrete was used on the project.
Normally, building officials inspect certain building elements during construction. If you are applying for a retroactive permit, officials will want to inspect the completed work to verify its conformance to the drawings you submitted, and to the applicable codes and standards.
If the unpermitted work involved an addition, the inspector may wish to assess:
To facilitate the inspection, you should visually expose pertinent components before your scheduled inspection date.
If your project involves a new foundation, expose a portion of it so that the size and depth can be determined. Make sure the inspector has access to the means of attachment of the foundation to the structure, including all anchor bolts and hold-down devices.
The inspector will also want to see all new structural members and their connections, and you may have to remove both interior and exterior wall coverings to allow visual access.
Braced wall panels and the associated shear nailing are subject to rigorous scrutiny during inspections as they are critical to a building’s seismic soundness. If these components were added, taken out, or altered during your project, you must remove a large enough section of the adjacent siding or roofing material to let a licensed engineer perform a visual assessment. The engineer must provide a written confirmation that the shear plywood complies with the current adaption of the building code and the approved plans.
After the inspection, building officials may still request a licensed engineer’s written confirmation that the new work is structurally sound.
If your project involved any MEP work, the inspector will want access to new or altered ducts, wires, and pipes.
If a new electrical system was installed, uncover all its components before the inspection by removing cover plates from receptacles, fixtures, subpanels, and services. Pull receptacles and switches out of all boxes and take off drywall from stud bays with electrical service boxes and subpanels.
If the unpermitted work affected changes to a kitchen or bathroom, be sure to remove wall coverings and give the inspector a chance to examine all supply and waste fittings. New or altered kitchen loop vents should also be visible during the inspection, and new gas lines have to be pressure-tested.
After the inspection, the building department may still ask for a licensed engineer’s written confirmation that all MEP systems meet the current code adaptations.
Besides assessing structural and MEP installations, the inspector will want to verify that the work in question adheres to the California Energy Efficiency Standards and CALGreen. As these standards affect a broad range of construction activities, it’s best to seek professional advice to identify parts of your building that may require an inspection.
As with regular permit applications, the drawings and the work itself will be assessed for compliance. Submitting quality, accurate as-built drawings will facilitate the building department’s job of evaluating your project and may save you from unnecessary revision cycles.
You should also accept the possibility that changes may be ordered to bring your project up to current standards. Unlike with regular permit applications, you won’t be able to revise the design before construction starts and may need to deconstruct and rebuild parts of your project.
To save time and money, your best bet is to hire a licensed design professional. A registered architect or licensed engineer can assist you by:
Letting a licensed professional help you will remove the guesswork from the process and put your mind at ease.
Our team of engineers has worked on various types of structural and civil projects in California for the past 14 years, and if you need a retroactive permit for your project, we can help. Call us at (877) 892-0292 or email us at email@example.com for more information.
Design Everest is OPEN! We work remotely and are fully committed to taking on and delivering projects.
Design Everest’s remote working model can safely take-up and deliver your projects within the current government guidelines on COVID-19 (a.k.a Coronavirus). This applies to many of our project scopes, including architecture, civil engineering, structural engineering, and construction administration across California.
Design Everest is set up to remotely leverage digital platforms (virtual meetings, calls, emails etc.) in client-facing and internal operations. Over the years, we have advanced this ability to the extent that we can continue supporting new and existing clients across many of our projects. Even projects that need an on-site visit can be fulfilled safely via video calls or in-person visits, where permitted.
Note that the present government guidelines permit the delivery of essential services, including those related to construction.
YES, Design Everest's remote working model enables us to work safely with all clients, suppliers, industry partners, and internal staff as per government guidelines.
Design Everest can still support many of our types of projects (new or ongoing) safely. For example, new custom homes, accessory dwelling units, civil plans etc. We are committed to delivering these remotely and safely as per the current government guidelines. In case of any external dependency that is unavoidable/unavailable, your assigned Custom Success Manager or Project Manager will keep you posted on it and try their best to keep your plans in-progress.
YES, our remote working model enables us to be fully committed to ongoing projects. In case of any external dependency that is unavoidable, unavailable or unsafe, your assigned Custom Success Manager or Project Manager will keep you updated and try their best to keep your plans in-progress. If an on-site visit is not feasible via a video call, we will try our best to fulfill the visit safely, where permitted.
Some of our clients are already going ahead with their projects with us via video calls or virtual meetings. Your assigned Customer Success Manager or Project Manager is happy to help you with this, where needed.
There are multiple reasons for this. It's typical to plan the construction step in the summer. So, clients get started on the pre-construction steps (architecture, engineering, and construction admin) in winter or spring to stick to planned timelines.
Projects such as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Additions/Remodels enable clients to rent/resale and generate revenue. Meanwhile, many clients are concerned about protecting their families and businesses against earthquakes by retrofitting their homes and buildings. These are just a few of the various reasons why it’s still reasonable for clients to stick to their construction plans.
Feel free to phone us at (888) 311-3015 Alternatively, you may contact your assigned Custom Success Manager or Project Manager directly via phone, email or virtual meetings.
To summarize, Design Everest is OPEN and able to serve new and existing clients, affiliates, suppliers, and industry partners.
Stay safe and rest assured that Design Everest can help you go ahead with your plans as per the recommended safety guidelines!