Building Division FAQs
Listed below are commonly asked questions we have received. We hope they will assist you. If there are other questions, not addressed here, please don't hesitate to reach out to our staff, and they will happily assist you as much as they can.
WHAT IS A BUILDING PERMIT?
A building permit gives you legal permission to start construction of a building project in accordance with approved drawings and specifications.
WHAT TYPE OF INFORMATION WILL BE NEEDED OR ASKED FOR ON THE PERMIT APPLICATION?
Generally, you will need to complete a building permit application and pay the permit fees, which will vary depending on the size of your project. You will also need to submit multiple copies of your building plans, floor plans, or other construction plans and specifications, and Site Plan. Building permit applications will request the following types of information:
- Project location
- Proposed use
- Scope of work
- Property owner information
- Contractor's information and license number
- Type of Permit being applied for
Other departments in the city may have comments on the application and require changes or conditions that must be agreed to by the builder as part of the approval process. Which departments are required to review your application will depend on the type of construction permit being applied for and the scope of construction.
WHO CAN PULL A PERMIT?
The owner, the owner's agent, or the licensed contractor signed to the project.
WHEN DO PERMITS EXPIRE?
Permits expire 180 days after issuance or 180 days following the date of the last inspection. To prevent permit expiration, set up an inspection before the 180-day deadline or submit a written Permit Extension Request prior to expiration date.
HOW DO I VERIFY A CONTRACTOR'S LICENSE INFORMATION?
Visit the California Contractor's State License Board website or call toll free at (800) 321-2752.
WHEN IS A BUILDING PERMIT REQUIRED?
A building permit is required to construct, enlarge, remodel, repair, move, remove, convert, or demolish any building or structure, or portions thereof. This includes garages, patios, carports, storage sheds, pools, retaining walls, fences, the addition or removal of interior or exterior walls, etc. A separate permit is required for each separate building or structure.
DO I NEED A BUILDING PERMIT FOR EVERY TYPE OF PROJECT?
Not all types of building and construction require permits in the City of Lakeport. A construction permit IS NOT NEEDED for items such as:
- Wallpapering, painting or similar finish work
- Carpeting, flooring, linoleum
- Fences under six feet (though you will want to check with Planning about the Zoning requirements)
- Single-story detatched storage sheds or play houses less than 120 square feet in floor area
- Retaining walls less than 3 feet tall
- Pre-fabricated above-ground swimming pools with a capacity of less than 5,000 gallons (please be aware that ALL swimming pools and spas must comply with the California Swimming Pool Safety Act, which requires child protective barriers!)
- Plumbing, mechanical, and electrical fixtures, such as water faucets, lamps, items that do not alter the structural integrity of the building.
Please remember, just because your project doesn't need a building permit, doesn't mean it may not need some other type of City review. We encourage you to contact us at (707) 263-5615 Ext. 205 any time you make changes to your existing structure. Reviews may be required from other agencies; so be sure to check before you begin your project.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO OBTAIN A BUILDING PERMIT?
The time to obtain a building permit varies widely and would depend on your scope of work.
Some types of construction projects can be reviewed at the counter and a permit issued at that time, others require deeper Plan review and could take from a couple of days to a few weeks or longer to process.
A Development Review Committee reviews more complex discretionary permit applications prior to submittal of the formal application. This process assists applicants identify issues early in the process.
In addition, many types of discretionary permit applications are referred fro review to other agencies outside of Planning. These agencies may require conditions on the permit or may even require additional permits that can substantially add to the time that it takes to complete your project. Contact Plann and Building Staff for an estimated time frame your project may require.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A ZONING PERMIT AND A BUILDING PERMIT?
The purpose of a building permit is to ensure that new structures are structurally sound and safe for human habitation. Building permits are ministerial in nature, meaning that so long as the proposal complies with the Building Code a permit will be issued.
Zoning Permits generally address the use of the property as well as the physical location and appearance of structures. Zoning Permits are discretionary in nature meaning that there is no guarantee that the permit will be approved. Zoning permits can be approved, approved with conditions, or denied.
IS A BUILDING PERMIT REQUIRED TO CONSTRUCT A FENCE OR RETAINING WALL?
Building Permits are not required for fences under 6 feet. However, zoning regulations may require you to obtain a Zoning permit. Please contact the City Planning Department to determine if a Zoning permit will be required.
A Building permit is required for a retaining wall if the wall is 4 feet or greater in height from grade, or for a retaining wall of any height if the wall supports a surcharge.
CAN I LEGALIZE AN ADDITION OR DETACHED STRUCTURE THAT WAS BUILT WITHOUT PERMITS?
Yes. you can submit Construction Plans to obtain a permit for the illegally built structure. You may be required to submit structural calculations if the structure does not meet all the provisions of conventional construction per the California Building Code.