Laguna Beach Building Permits: From A Residential Perspective

Laguna Beach is an idealistic seaside town, home to some of the most spectacular views in the world. With over seven miles of Pacific coastline, it’s clear why so many people call this retreat-like Southern California town home.  Whether you’re planning on building an expansive estate, or adding an addition to your beach bungalow, obtaining a building permit is one of the many steps you’ll need to take. To help make this step less daunting, here are some of the frequently asked questions about the building permit process in Laguna Beach.

What is a building permit?

A building permit is authorization by a municipality to construct a new structure or alter, repair, convert, or demolish an existing property. A building permit basically ensures that the structure is built according to set codes to certify the structure is safe and that it doesn’t violate any neighborhood or environmental restrictions.

When DON’T I need a building permit?

A construction permit is not needed for minor, cosmetic improvements such as painting, tiling, carpeting, refinishing cabinets, replacing kitchen or bathroom fixtures, or the installation of a small storage shed or a playhouse (120 square feet or less). Check with the Laguna Beach Building Division for a complete list.

Who can apply for a building permit?

You or your licensed general contractor may apply for a building permit. Your general contractor must show proof of a Laguna Beach business license as well as Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

How do I get a permit?

Obtaining a permit is a process that takes time. Knowing this ahead of time can save you the frustration later. Contact the Laguna Beach Department of Community Development, Building Division for instructions on obtaining a permit for your specific project.  Be sure to complete each required step to avoid delay. Generally, you’ll need to submit completed forms provided by the Laguna Beach Building Division as well as detailed plans (blueprints) of your project, including location of property lines. According to the Building Division website, “plans must show that all work will conform to all relevant laws, ordinances and regulations, including energy and structural calculations and soils reports when required. The first sheet of each set must have the address of the site, the name and address of the owner and the name of the person who prepared the plans.” Plans may need to be signed by a licensed architect or registered civil engineer.

How long does it take to get a permit?

Your plans and application are reviewed by several different departments (planning, engineering, public health, etc.) to make sure everything meets the city’s requirements. The design of your house is reviewed by the Plan Checker and Zoning Administrator; the Environmental Engineer checks the project for conformance to environmental laws. The length of time it’ll take to get your permit depends on the complexity of your project and the time it takes for all the various departments to review your application. This usually takes at least several weeks.

How long is a building permit valid?

A building permit is valid for 180 days from the date issued. If your project isn’t completed in 180 days, the permit may be renewed every 180 days. As long as you have regular inspections and continue to work on your project, your permit won’t expire.

Have additional questions about Laguna Beach building permits? Contact us and we’d be happy to advise you on the building permits required for your specific construction project.

Are you familiar with how the Laguna Beach approval process works?

Discover the 3 different review processes you might face, depending on the type of construction project you are undertaking. Enter your contact information here to receive your free guide.