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  • Jeremy Horning

Shed Building Permits & Regulations in Los Angeles

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Sheds are usually considered extra storage in many homes. Some property owners might erect one on their property to increase its resell value. For others, building a shed might have a more practical motivation - gaining some much-needed extra space.


You must find out if state law permits it (or not), regardless of why you want/need a shed.

Why do homeowners need permits for sheds? After all, it's their property. However, laws exist because some sheds include electrical, mechanical, or plumbing installations.


What is a shed building permit?

A shed building permit is a document that permits you to undertake a shed building project on the subject property. In some states, you will be breaking the law if you go ahead without securing the necessary building permits.

Simple storage sheds are often exempt, but any electrical or plumbing installation on the property in question must be in line with current building code requirements - including electricity and plumbing in a shed.


Do you need a building permit for a shed in Los Angeles, CA?


The City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety has certain width and height requirements for such permits. For instance, if the construction is smaller than 120 square feet, you definitely do not need a building permit.


But that's not all. This rule only applies if there is no electrical equipment or plumbing installed. In such cases, you might need a different type of permit, like an electrical permit.


However, according to the City of Los Angeles residential requirements, if the planned building is more than 120 square feet, and needs electrical and plumbing supplies, then a building permit is required before you can proceed.

There are certain instances when you need a permit to build, even on rental properties. Some include:

  • Ceiling heights: over 12 feet in height

  • Inclusion of mechanical equipment, plumbing, or electrical installation

  • Installation of skylights

  • The height of fences exceeds 24 inches

  • Specific zonal permit requirements that make shed permits compulsory

  • If the proposed floor space exceeds 120 sq. ft.

  • Cases where a geotechnical report is deemed necessary

  • If the structure is for agricultural purposes

How to Get a Shed Permit in Los Angeles?


Building requirements in the City of Los Angeles are a walk in the park if you comply with the building rules. You can get your permit in less than an hour.

There are two major types of permits that you might need before you commence building: the 'counter plan check' and 'express permit'.

Let's look at where you can get these permits in the City of Los Angeles.


Building and Safety District Office


Getting a building permit in Los Angeles is easy. Applications are dealt with by the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works Building and Safety Division.


There are separate permits for different purposes. For instance, a building permit for a structure exceeding the maximum size of 120 sq. ft. or a maximum roof projection of 24 inches. In such cases, you'll need to apply for the "counter plan check."


This type of permit takes about 45-60 minutes to review. If everything is okay, you'll receive permission to start the type of construction you submitted. You can get this permit at Van Nuys offices, Metro, and West LA.


Apply Online


If you plan any mechanical or electrical installation, you'll need to apply for the 'express permit'. The best part about the express building permit application process is that you can apply online. It's a 15-30 minute process.


How much does a shed building permit cost in Los Angeles?


The average cost for a building permit in Los Angeles is $1200. The cost varies depending on the property in question. Typically, from $40 to $2000, including the building inspector and inspection fee.


How Long Does it Take to Get a Shed Building Permit in Los Angeles?

Typically, a building permit in the City of Los Angeles takes about two weeks for approval.

But if you are applying for a counter plan check permit for a shed, it takes 45-60 minutes to get reviewed and approved.

Can You Build a Shed Without Planning Permission?


Usually, you do not need planning permission, but there are a few exceptions.


What size shed can you build without a permit in Los Angeles?


In the City of Los Angeles, if the size of floor space exceeds 120 sq. ft. or the structure is over 12 feet in height, you need a permit. Any electrical work will require an electrical permit.

So, you can build a shed smaller than 120 sq. ft. (11 square meters) without electrical and plumbing installation and with a roof projection not exceeding 24 inches.

How tall can my shed be?


It can be as tall as you need it to be. But when it exceeds 12 feet or 144 inches in height, there are building permit fees to pay.


What happens if you build a shed without a permit in Los Angeles?


  • It can result in the removal of the shed

  • You might attract penalties and fines

  • Your property may be subject to a lien

More zoning rules


There are other zoning rules in L.A. City that you might need to watch out for:


Setbacks


The City of Los Angeles Building and Safety Office requires specific setbacks from property lines. There must be a rear yard setback of 15 ft, a side yard setback of 5 ft, and a front yard setback of 15-25 ft. So, no structure should be between the property line and the setbacks.


Easements


You might decide to build on easements, but if you value your peace of mind, it is not the best option because the dominant owner of the easement may need access.


Conclusion

Going ahead with building plans without securing any permits necessary, paying the application fees, and complying with applicable codes might result in penalties. Avoid any issues by finding out what you need before starting to build.


As a trusted shed building contractor in Los Angeles, Urban Sheds ensures your shed is in line with current zonal requirements. And Urban Sheds has a wide range of sizes, styles, and color choices available to suit all tastes and needs.


FAQs


How close to the property line can I build a shed in Los Angeles County?


It shouldn't be within 15 ft of a side-adjacent property line and 10 ft from a rear-adjacent property line.


What's the biggest shed I can build without a permit in LA and California?


The biggest shed you can build without a permit in the City of Los Angeles is 120 square feet, 12 feet high, with a roof not extending past 24 inches.


Does a shed increase property tax in Los Angeles?


Yes, the property tax may be affected, but usually not significantly.


How long do building permits last in Los Angeles?


The permit becomes null if work doesn't commence after 180 days of the Building and Safety Division's approval of the building plans.

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Jeremy Horning has a passion for efficient and smooth running systems. He values beauty and  craftsmanship. When he’s not too busy building business, you’ll find him on the job constructing sheds or resurfacing hardwood decks.

After moving to Medford Ma. in 2014 he was a co-founder of  Alpha Omega Property Services, a handyman business, out of which he started Boston Hardwood Decks and Urban Sheds.

Jeremy started Urban Sheds in 2017 with the vision of connecting local craftsmen and homeowners around great shed designs, sustainable production and straightforward purchasing.​

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