3 Reasons Why the California Permitting Process Needs Work

Attaining housing permits used to take a few days, maybe a few weeks at most. For those wanting to improve their homes, or build new ones entirely, it was a relatively quick turnaround. People could acquire the permits they needed, make their improvements, renditions, or new construction, and then turn around and either enjoy or sell the property shortly afterward. It was good for homeowners and good for the market, fast turnaround meant a quicker sell, and that meant a hotter market. On shows like HGTV’s Flip or Flop, these improvements still appear to take only a matter of days, as they buy, remodel, and resell the house all within the matter of a 30 minute episode- but the reality is that it takes much longer, and that needs to change…

So here are 3 reasons why we think this absolutely must change. Do you agree?

  1. It’s hindering the economy

If things really did operate like Tarek and Christina’s house flipping business, we might be living in an economic golden era. Ok… maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but if permitting processes were expedited, more homes would sell, faster. Period.

  1. Permits are expensive

As a homeowner, there are so many obstacles to jump through as it is. The process of purchasing a house alone can seem like somewhat of a triathlon, let alone the property tax, maintenance, and myriad other costs that come along with home ownership. It’s an unfair burden to then not only make homeowners wait for months, and sometimes even years at a time to make minor improvements on their home, but to also charge them upwards of 1,000 dollars just for permission to make the improvement!

One of our readers was charged 1,000 dollars just for the permit to do a mandated rework of the plumbing on a rental property in Compton. In more upscale neighborhoods, “architecture committees” cost homeowners thousands of dollars, if they happen to disapprove of your remodeling plans, and you’re stuck having to go back and forth between them and an architect (who are not cheap to work with). It makes you wonder if some cities look at permits as a major source of revenue!

  1. It’s not rocket science

Of course there are many things that need to be considered when we talk about legalities, property requirements, and each individual city’s ability to process permit requests. But the fact of the matter is, the process needs to be revised. It’s taking too long and it doesn’t have to. Let’s ask our city officials to spend some time on this and figure it out… it’s not rocket science.

Of course these are pretty bold statements that are being made, and we wouldn’t make them unless we felt they were necessary to make. If you’ve read our other articles, you’d know that typically we stay out of opinionated arguments. However this is something that needs to be addressed. Have you had any experience or frustrations with this issue? Share your thoughts with us here in the comment section below, or find us on Facebook or Twitter and get our attention there!

  • RE_Insider

    One reader shared his story with us. Costs for permits are crazy: My wife and I are in the middle of a construction for a 600 sq ft granny unit on our property. New codes required sprinkler in the unit and a stamped signed off by Metro Fire District on the sprinkler plans. Their turn around time was 4 weeks from submittal to stamped. Apparently they sub out this task.
    With regards to permits our costs to date on permits and other fees is upwards of $17,000.00, DOT fee was $6,700.00 +/-

    When I first went to the Sacramento County building and planning dept I was quoted an estimate of $2,700.00 for permits and fees. When it came to getting the plans approved the price sent to $17,000.00. And after a 3 hours of meeting with two supervisors and complaining about the cost and the change in the dollar amount they simply informed me that the person who have me the original quote did not inform me that there were many other departments involved with costs of a construction project and they could only give me their costs, he never mentioned that to me.

    After getting Sec Metro to approve the sprinkler plans and having Sec planning dept sign off on the plans we failed inspection by the inspector who required an additional two sprinkler heads to be installed. When we argued the plans were approved by both the planning dept and Sac Metro Fire we were told too bad this is what I say and you need to add them to continue.

    The system needs to be fixed.