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Do You Need a Permit to Remodel a Bathroom in California?

Depending on the specific US state, permit requirements vary quite widely for remodeling projects. Since we are discussing California in particular, the short answer would be yes, you do need a building permit to remodel bathrooms in California. If you’re thinking about Bathroom Remodeling Los Angeles, in the following paragraphs, we will be going through some of the most important follow up questions that people usually have about  bathroom remodeling permits in California.


Do All Types of Bathroom Remodeling Projects Require a Permit?

It is mandatory to have a builder’s permit in California, irrespective of which room you are remodeling or what the project might involve. Alterations, repairs, renovations, improvements, additions, demolitions, etc. are all activities that can only be started after you have attained the permit, and not before that.


What Should be Included in the Builder’s Permit?

The permissions granted within the permit will vary depending on the remodeling project’s specific needs. Nevertheless, a permit for remodeling any bathroom should provide you with permissions to make changes in its construction, electrical wiring and plumbing. If you are a builder/remodeling expert yourself, then you should have an easier time while deciding on the right type of permit, but seeking the help of a professional is advised for those without the required experience.


Can Homeowners Apply for the Necessary Permit Themselves?

Homeowners are eligible to apply for a permit in the state of California, so they can most certainly apply for the builder’s permit and receive one. That may not be the best course of action though, unless the homeowner is an experienced and licensed contractor himself/herself. In all other instances, a licensed contractor should be hired who should, in turn, apply for the necessary builder’s permit on the homeowner’s behalf. This is highly advisable for the following reasons:

  • No unlicensed, or inadequately licensed worker is legally allowed to work on a remodeling project in California, even if it is the owner
  • Most homeowners do not have enough knowledge regarding which licenses are required for what kind of work, so they may end up being unwittingly noncompliant with state laws
  • There are building, renovation and remodeling standards set forth by the state, and if the work does not meet those standards, the homeowner will be held liable for being noncompliant with them.


Does This Mean DIY is Out of the Question for Homeowners?

No, DIY bathroom renovations are not impossible to pull off yourself. To know what kind of licenses and permits are needed for the specific bathroom remodeling project you have planned, just contact your city’s building and permits office. Visit the city’s official website to find all the answers you need, but in case you require more assistance, give them a call or arrange to meet in-person if you need to. Keep in mind that you should be contacting the city office, and they may have some of their own unique building codes as well.

It might take you quite some time to get on top of everything, but DIY remodeling is certainly not out of the question. However, if you have no prior experience with the kind of work that your bathroom needs, consulting a licensed local contractor is advised for both the sake of saving time, as well as making the bathroom remodel a success.


Are There Any Repercussions to Not Getting the Necessary Permit?

There are multiple possible repercussions of not acquiring the necessary permit for your bathroom remodel, and all of them are bad. For the sake of easier understanding, we have listed the most prominent ones next:

  • Since you will have to hide the project from your local municipality, the remodeled bathroom will not be checked by them for quality and standard maintenance
  • As a result of the above, you will not even know whether the investment you just made is as sound structurally as it should be
  • If the city finds out while the work is still going on, you will have to get a permit at that point, but it will cost you 2-3 times more than it would have normally
  • If they find out about the unpermitted remodeling work after the work is complete, there will be hefty fines
  • The council could also ask the homeowner to make mandatory changes to their bathroom immediately, if their inspection reveals any of it to be against the city’s building codes.

Note that if it is your contractor who is stating that state and city permits are not that important for the bathroom remodeling project you have in mind, they are not worth working with. It is quite likely that they themselves lack the proper licenses to take on the project, or they have unlicensed workers in their crew. Therefore, it is completely against your interests to skip the legal obligations.


Feel free to read our article on 4 Must Know Bathroom Remodeling Tips