Do I need a permit to remodel my kitchen?

As a San Diego remodeling contractor, we obviously do a lot of kitchen renovations.  When we meet with homeowners regarding their upcoming kitchen remodel, many consumers will ask whether or not they need a permit from the city.  Sometimes they will ask us what the process is for obtaining a permit. Other times homeowners will ask how long the permit process will take.  Here is some general information about permits for remodeling your kitchen.

Lets start with what permits are and why they are important because everyone loves to hate permits.  Basically, permits are a way for the city to regulate construction.  Not just a way for the city to collect fees, permits are used to govern safety and ensure energy conservation.  I can promise you your contractor loves permits just as  much as you do.  Let’s face it, no one wants to be babysat which is what the permits do, and no one likes delays, which is what permits cause.

The real question everyone wants answered is whether or not they need a permit for their kitchen remodel.  The quick answer is: only if you are moving or adding plumbing, electrical, mechanical, or walls within the home.  So if you are refinishing your cabinets – you will not need a permit.  If you are removing cabinetry and replacing cabinetry in the same location – you will not need a permit.  If you aren’t sure – when you interview kitchen remodel contractors, ask them because they had better know the answer!

There are a few different types of permits.  One type of permit is trade-specific (electrical, plumbing, or mechanical). So if you have decided to run some electrical to add some new outlets or install new lights, you would need to submit approval for an electrical permit.  If you wanted to add plumbing to your island so you could have a vegetable sink – you would need a plumbing permit.  The other type of permit is a building permit.  So if you were going to remove a wall, you would need a building permit.  If you were moving a wall and doing electrical and plumbing work, you would need a building permit plus a permit for each trade which will require a full set of plans rather than a line drawing strictly for the trade you will be affecting

So how you do get a permit?  There is a process which is why everyone dreads having to obtain permits.  You will need to have a qualified person, usually a draftsman, measure out your property and create a set of “as-built” drawings which will show how the home is currently built. From that set of plans you will create a set of plans for how you will remodel the house.  When you submit the plan to be reviewed, there are times when the city will have special zones review the plans before you are approved for the permit.  For example, if you live near the airport you may need to have the plans reviewed by the FAA.  If the plans need to be reviewed by a special zone, the city will arrange for that.  Your contractor should be very aware of the permit process and have solutions for how to go about getting your permit so you can build your kitchen remodel.

When you are planning your kitchen renovation, be sure to take some time understanding kitchen remodel timelines and how that relates to hiring a contractor and/or getting permits.  Once you have your permit, which takes typically 4-6 weeks, you will need to have the home inspected as you build the project.  Since you are likely working with a remodeling contractor, your contractor will call for inspections.  Inspections also delay the project because you have to a) schedule the appointment and stop work until the inspection is approved and b) if there is anything the inspector does not like then he will fail the inspection and your contractor will need to fix it and call for a second inspection on a different day.

No one truly enjoys the permit process.  We suspect even the inspectors dread them.  They process does ensure your remodel will be completed safely and to code.  If you need more information about San Diego permits for your kitchen remodel, visit the City of San Diego development services website.

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