things to know

1. The General Contractor or the person to whom the Building Permit was issued must make all inspection requests.

2. Building permit cards must be posted and construction plans must be available at the job site or inspection will not be performed and a fine may be charged.

3. Permit fees are based on project valuation defined as labor, materials, plus profit

4. If the project is large enough, the building inspector will need to complete a plan review.

Who are they

The BDI inspects, approves, and issues all code-required permits for new construction and for repairs and additions to all public and private buildings. They ensure safe construction standards for the safety and general well-being of all of us.

When do I need a building permit?

Building permits are required when making any major structural changes or alterations or for new construction. Normal maintenance does not require a building permit.

Here are some common examples, although this list is not complete:

1. New structures

2. Expansion of existing rooms

3. Porches, terraces and retaining walls

4. Anything involving structural beams, joist replacement, or load support

5. Repair of foundations and footings, shoring or shoring of a structure

6. Converting basement or attic space into living quarters

7. All new fences except replacement of existing fences

8. A completely new roof, when the roof work is not the replacement of a similar material

When do I not need a building permit?

Here are some common examples, although this list is not complete:

1. Ordinary repairs to residential buildings and structures, there may be height restrictions here.

2. Drywall repair, exterior and interior painting, sanding and refinishing floors, tiles, carpets, floor replacement

3. Repair or replacement of gutters and downspouts

4. Replacement or repair of non-fire rated exterior doors and interior doors provided no modification is made to the opening

5. Wall panels applied directly to wall surfaces; acoustic panels applied directly to ceiling surfaces;

6. Installation of battery-powered smoke detectors

7. Replacement of existing fence, same height, material and location in rear or side yards

8. Radio or television antennas without dish

The BDI will focus on all common areas unless there is a specific complaint. In that case, they can go anywhere in a building. They do not need permission from landlords to enter a unit, but they do need permission from tenants to enter an apartment. They will examine all common areas for dangerous or dangerous code violations or exit issues. They are essentially interested in security issues and will look especially for fire extinguishers, doors, lighting, stairs, gates, and smoke detectors. If there is any violation of the code, they will issue a “Notice of Violation” or NOV.

What they do: They will inspect a property for three reasons:

1. General inspections are required by law to discover and correct safety problems and code requirements. These inspections are mandatory periodically.

2. Someone has complained

3. Review new construction work for safety and code violations.

The dreaded “workgroup inspection”

If a building is a nuisance and receives repeated complaints, the city can call many or all of the agencies and create a task force to inspect the building. Agencies involved may include fire, health, police, and the DA. The task force is only formed for the worst offenders, usually drug dens or health hazards.

Construction Inspections

The inspector looks for the work to be code compliant and not exceed the scope of the permit. Very often, construction will take place and other problems will arise. If they exceed the parameters of the approved work, they can deny the approval of the work. Now you have to comply and that can mean a bureaucratic mistake or worse. A citation or NOV (Notice of Violation) is issued and you will need to apply for another permit to fix the problem and be code compliant.

When the work is completed in accordance with the BDI requirements, you will need another inspection to obtain authorization. If you’re still having trouble getting the job approved, you have a few alternatives

Fighting the BDI

1. Know the code: You will need to prove that the cited condition is legal

2. Get all the permit plans DBI has and try to show that the condition is historical

3. If it is an old building, it can be purchased

4. Talk to the senior inspector and make a reported case

5. Talk to a real estate attorney or engineer


This is his last effort to fix a bug. You can have your lawyer or property manager or possibly a structural engineer present your case. This is your last effort to allow a condition to remain in place. Obviously, it doesn’t come to this unless there is a lot of money at stake.

howard bell

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