Permits promote safety and quality
When was the last time you walked into a movie theater and worried that the building was structurally sound or that there was an adequate number of exit doors in case of an emergency? Like most people, the answer is likely that you have not thought about such issues. Most people take it for granted that their homes, their places of work and their places of leisure are safe and of quality construction. Cities are the lead agencies for ensuring the safety and quality guidelines are met and use permits to make sure these guidelines are met.
Permits are the way the City of Newport Beach regulates construction and protects the public by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction. They are designed to ensure that all construction in the city is safe and meets construction codes. These construction codes, whose purpose is to promote safety and quality construction, are published by several internationally respected model code agencies and have been adopted by reference into Title 15 of the Newport Beach Municipal Code. Additionally, there are federal, state and local laws that govern construction, such as those covering energy conservation. For more information about codes, please see the Building Department's Building Codes Page.
Your permit protects the value of your investment. If your construction project does not comply with the City's building codes, the value of you 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 been modified without a permit, you may be required to tear down the addition, leave it unoccupied or perform 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.
By obtaining permits and following code guidelines, your completed project will meet set standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, your friends and future owners.
Types of permits
There are several different types of permits based on the type of construction: building, fire, electrical, grading, plumbing and heating. In addition, the complete demolition and relocation of buildings also requires permits. For example, a building permit is needed for all new construction. In many cases, a permit is also needed for repair or replacement of existing fixtures, such as replacing a furnace. A plumbing, electrical or mechanical permit may be needed for any addition or changes to a building's existing system; for example, moving or adding an electrical outlet requires a permit.
Permit not required when...
Permits are not needed for every type of construction. For example, a permit is not required for items such as floor covering, wallpapering, painting or similar finish work; fences three and one half (3 1/2) feet or lower; platforms, decks and walks 30 inches or less over grade or not over the basement; as well as several other situations. Keep in mind, however, that even though the City may not require a permit, reviews may be required from other agencies, so be sure to check before building.
Some other situations may or may not require a permit. Certain plumbing, mechanical and electrical work, replacement or repair of fixtures (such as changing water faucets or replacing switches) typically do not require a permit. However, replacing a water heater or adding a permanently wired light fixture does require a permit. If you are in doubt about whether a permit is required, please call us.
Plan submittal and review
Applying for a permit is the first step in the process. You may need to create plans to submit to the department, make a plot plan , 2 sets of 18" x 24" min. size sheets, for your property showing the improvements, and show the type of construction you'll be using. These plans are important because they allow professionals in the City to make sure that the project meets the guidelines for quality and safety. If something needs to be modified, it is always much easier (and cheaper) to fix it on paper rather than doing it when the project is under construction.
Your plans may also be reviewed by other departments in the City including Fire, Public Works, and Planning. A permit is approved based on the plans you submit, which means that once plans are approved, you are required to build the project to the specifications in those plans. If any changes are made to the plans, they must be made with the City's approval, otherwise the permit may become invalid. If you want more information about plan submittal, call (949) 644-3288.
The second part of the permit process is the inspection of the work. The City uses inspections to insure that the work being done for you is of high quality meets safety guidelines. Again, you will have access to the expertise of the code official to help you with questions or concerns regarding the project and to ward off potentially costly mistakes. The inspector will let you know approximately how many inspections may be needed for your project. Inspections are made during certain points in the project, depending on the work that's being performed. For example, retaining walls require inspections of the footing, after block is laid and steel placed but before grouting; after backfill has been placed; and when all work is finished. Having inspections at each of these points is important because they help to insure that each phase of the project is following the approved plan.
Customarily, building inspectors respond to inspection requests from the contractor or builder and will not visit a site without an appointment. Since inspectors will only visit your job site when requested, it is very important that you ensure that the inspection requests are made in a timely manner to assure the work is being performed correctly before starting the next stage. If an inspection is conducted after the fact, there is always the risk of costly mistakes being made or improper work being done that could lead to expensive repairs that result in further delay of your project.
Please remember that you are responsible for calling us for inspections at specific times during construction, although you may have your contractor make the call. As the property owner, though, you still need to make sure the inspections are made. Usually, a one or two day notice is needed when requesting visits You may call (949) 644-3255 to schedule and inspection or schedule it on-line using our "On Line Services" feature, accessible from the Building Department home page.
Your project is complete once the final inspection has been made. The inspector will provide documentation after construction is complete and code compliance is determined. You will then have the satisfaction of a job done right and you can enjoy your new surroundings with the peace of mind and the knowledge that they meet the safety standards in our community.