California Permit Requirements For HVAC Installations
As a homeowner there may come a time when you decide to undertake a home improvement project. One important step you never want to skip is pulling a permit. Depending on the scope of work you can determine whether a permit needs to be pulled. When replacing your HVAC system as the homeowner you need to make sure the state licensed contractor you hire takes out a permit from the local building and safety department. This will help avoid fines and any additional repairs. Building permits enforce following building codes. Building codes are in place to ensure properties meet safety and structural standards and that the equipment is functioning properly and efficiently. Routine inspections also ensure the system meets Home Energy Rating System (HERS) testing and verification requirements.
What Is A Building Permit?
A building permit is a written authorization issued by a city or county to construct a project. Building permits are required for most construction or remodeling projects to ensure work safety and compliance with building, construction and zoning codes. For HVAC projects the following require permits, but are not limited to:
- New HVAC installation
- HVAC Changeout
- Replacement of furnace, coil, FAU, or condenser
- Relocation of an existing HVAC unit
- Adding or replacing more than 40ft ducting
Who Pulls The Permit?
Keep in mind the person who pulls the permit is the person responsible for following construction codes. Typically, the contractor you hire for the project, is the one pulling the permit. As the homeowner, you could also pull the permit, but you would be considered the contractor and liable if there’s any issues. However, its best to have the contractor pull the permit because they are familiar with the process and the city’s inspectors.
What If I Skip Getting A Permit?
If your project requires a permit, get a permit. If you are working with a contractor who suggests skipping this step, consider moving on to another contractor.
As cumbersome as the process may be, it will be better than dealing with the city if it finds out you should, but don’t have a permit. The city might force you to obtain a permit and could double or triple the permitting fees. Penalties for not obtaining an HVAC building permit vary from city to city. The city may also shut down your project or require you to tear down your work if there is a question as to whether the work was done according to building code.
Projects finished without permits can also:
- jeopardize your insurance coverage and rates. Even worse, a homeowner’s insurance policy could be cancelled if their insurance company finds that work has been done on the property without a permit.
- scare away potential buyers
- and/or lower resale value.
If you hope that the buyer will not find out, you are taking a huge risk. You could be setting yourself up for a future lawsuit, if a fire or other disaster occurred as a result of unpermitted construction. Any future owner’s home insurance company would not cover any damage when they learn there was any construction completed without a permit.
Before Hiring A Contractor
When starting a home renovation project it is important to:
- Learn about local permitting requirements.
- Ask your contractor to provide you with copies of the permit(s).
- Post a copy of the permit in a front window. This may be a requirement in some cities.
- Hire only licensed and bonded contractors for the work.
Furthermore, CSLB has additional recommendations when hiring a contractor to work on their property:
- Verify the contractor’s license number on CSLB’s website at www.cslb.ca.gov to make sure the license is in good standing.
- Don’t pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment. There is an exception for about two dozen licensees who carry special bonds to protect consumers. These exceptions are noted on CSLB’s website.
- Don’t let payments get ahead of the work.
- Get at least three bids, check references, and get a written contract.
Avoid any potential future headaches, by following your local permit laws. It will also keep you and your family safe in your home. Contact the professionals at LA Construction Heating and Air today at (818) 341-3406 or online to see how we can help you. We offer free estimates on any replacement or installation.