The Cost Of Doing That Work Without A Permit

The Cost Of Doing That Work Without A Permit

April 21, 2022

By Carl Hampton

Since when has it been a crime to convert a garage into a bedroom? Actually there are planning and zoning codes that were created in California that reach as far back as the 1930’s. Many of those were amended in the early 2000’s, these codes talk about the limits that apply when adding rooms to a house.

Those zoning codes state that it is a crime to alter your house without a permit. You can (and many do) receive a fine, they can be very extensive it is also possible to get jail time, but jail time is unlikely. The fines can range from $100 a day to $25,000 a day if changes aren’t made. The city is also allowed to cut off the gas and electricity at the property to prevent a safety hazard if changes they want aren’t made in a timely fashion. Lastly it is much more difficult to sell your house if there are adjustments made without a permit. Perspective buyers have the right to ask for the work to be undone before they purchase the house and this delay any closing date you may have had.


Many homeowners like to believe that the city is trying to control the way their house is built or the size of the house. The truth is it is quite the opposite, for the most part zones and codes are made to protect you. The real reasoning behind the need for a permit is to ensure you have an inspection of the work done this makes sure the codes are met which guarantees safety. Inspections check if the foundation is deep enough and if the plumbing and electricity are done correctly. A lot of the time homeowners think that skipping the permit process will save them money but in the long run it actually lands up costing more.

The most popular conversions are turning a garage into a bedroom. Since Los Angeles has many housing issues, the conversion seems promising to homeowners and it works out well for renters. More often than not these garage bedrooms are little more than death traps. Most of them do not have proper access in and out many do not have proper heating. It has been estimated that throughout the city of Los Angeles 90 percent of garage conversions are illegal. The wise thing to do is obtain a permit to build another garage to satisfy the parking space requirements.

For those of you that are looking to purchase a house and it happens to have a garage apartment or bedroom it can be a negotiating point. You could have the advantage of an extra room but you can also have the disadvantage if there is not permit. So check to make sure if there is a permit thats great, if not get the price down to cover the cost of going through the permit process to make the necessary changes and once again have the advantage of the extra room.

There is also recognition that a lot of additions made in houses in Los Angeles were made in the 1970’s and 1980’s. If you bought your house with additions around that time, maybe it’s time to get a permit before you want to sell.

About the Author:


Permanent Link: