WHAT’S A PLAN CHECK?
Many construction projects including new construction, additions and remodels involve significant work. To ensure the designs for that work comply with the building codes and with local planning requirements the Building and Safety division will require that the plans be reviewed by one of our plan check engineers, prior to the issuance of a permit to construct.
WHEN DO YOU NEED A PLAN CHECK?
The best way to find out if you need a plan check is to call your local Building and Safety office and set up an appointment to discuss your project with one of the engineers before beginning construction to determine reviews, approvals, and permits you may need. Even if a permit is not needed, the code official may be able to answer questions regarding the code and referrals to other agencies that might impact your project.
PLAN CHECK IS USUALLY REQUIRED FOR THE FOLLOWING:
- Additions (bedrooms, bathrooms, family rooms, etc.)
- Residential work (decks, garages, fences, fireplaces, pools, water heaters, etc.)
- Renovations (garage conversions, basement furnishings, kitchen expansions, etc.)
- New and expanded Electrical systems
- Significant Plumbing system changes
- New and expanded HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) systems
Your home or business is an investment. If your construction project does not comply with the codes adopted by your community, the value of your investment could be reduced. Property insurers may not cover work done without permits and inspections. If you decide to sell a home or building that has had modifications without a permit, you may be required to tear down the addition, leave it unoccupied, or make costly repairs.
A property owner who can show that code requirements were strictly and consistently met––as demonstrated by a code official’s carefully maintained records––has a strong ally if something happens to trigger a potentially destructive lawsuit.
Your permit also allows the code official to protect the public by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction and ensuring public health, safety, and welfare. By following code guidelines, the completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, your friends, or future owners.
THE PLAN CHECK PROCESS
The plan check process begins with an application and the submission of plans for review by the plan check engineer. Simple plans like patio covers or car ports may be reviewed over the counter. More complex plans will require plans to be submitted. There are three ways you may submit plans:
- On paper in person at the field office that serves your project location. Please provide two sets of plans.
- Digitally in person at the field office that serves your project location. Please provide one set of PDF files of the plans and specifications on a CD or flash drive. or
- Online at http://dpw.lacounty.gov/bsd/bsop. On this site you may up load PDF versions of your plans and specifications for review. This site will require you to register and establish an account. Invoices for the plan check fees will be emailed to you and you may pay either in person at one of our offices or via our internet payment process.
Once the plan check process begins the plan check engineer will review the plans and specifications for compliance with the Building code currently in affect. Any elements of the plans that are not in compliance will be noted on the plans and a correction list will be provided. Digital submission allows us to email you the comments if any and send you the digital plans marked up with our comments.
Once we have approved your plans we will ask that you bring a hard copy set of the approved plans to the office when you are pulling your permits.
TALK TO YOUR LOCAL CODE OFFICIAL
Your code official wants your project to be a success and will help you avoid potential problems that could cost you time and money. You will be asked some basic questions (What are you planning to do? Where?), advised of any requirements, and, if necessary, referred to other departments for their approval. The code official will provide you with the resources and information needed for compliance with the applicable building codes. You will then receive an application for a building permit.
At this stage you will document the “Who, What, When, Where, and How” of the job, along with any sketches or plans of the proposed work.
In a brief amount of time, the code official will review your plans and determine if your project is in compliance with local requirements. If your plans meet these requirements, a permit is issued. If not, the code official may suggest solutions to help correct the problem.
Now that you have been approved for a permit, you have legal permission to start construction. A fee, based on the size of the job, is collected to cover the cost of the application, the review, and the inspection process. An experienced code official is available to you should you have any questions concerning your project. You should consider your code official as an ally who will help you make your project a success. Separate permits are typically required for electrical, plumbing, and heating or air conditioning work.
On-site inspections will be required to make certain the work conforms to the permit, local codes, and plans. Again, you will have access to the expertise of the code official to help you with questions or concerns regarding the project and to minimize potentially costly mistakes. The code official will let you know approximately how many inspections may be needed for your project. Usually, a one- or two-day notice is needed when requesting visits.
The code official will provide documentation when construction is complete and code compliance is determined. You will then have the personal satisfaction of a job done right. Enjoy your new surroundings with the peace of mind and the knowledge that they meet the safety standards in your community.
It takes everyone in a community to keep our homes, schools, offices, stores, and other buildings safe for public use. Your safe construction practices help protect you, your family, your friends, and your investment. Be sure to get your local code official involved with your project, because the building department is an important ally, from start to finish.