Building permits are required whenever a structure is erected, constructed, reconstructed, moved or altered. (California Building Code §108.4.1.) Permits are normally not required for small repairs.
Architectural Rules. Associations should incorporate into their architectural standards a requirement that members obtain permits from the local Department of Building and Safety. Building inspectors review and approve plans prior to construction and then inspect the work as it progresses to ensure it meets minimum building standards for health and safety.
Unpermitted Work. If the association learns that an owner is doing work without a permit, the association should immediately contact the owner and require that all work cease until proper permits have been obtained. If the owner refuses, the association's attorney should be contacted.
Cost of Permits. The owner doing the work, not the association, is responsible for the cost of the permit. The cost charged by the Building Department is based on the size of the project. Permit fees typically run from 1.5 to 3% of the estimated cost of the project.
Deposits. Associations can require that owners post a deposit with the association which can be returned (i) once all permits have been signed off by the Building Department, and (ii) no damage was done to the common areas, and (iii) there are no unpaid fines from rules violations during the construction.
ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.