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Law of the Land: Code Compliance

Posted By Shirley Smith @ Sep 12th 2014 2:17am In: Law of the land



Do I need a permit for that? Can I put a gazebo in my front yard?

You’ve just closed on your dream home, or what you envision will transform into your dream home. It’s actually a bit of a fixer-upper, and you're concerned about code compliance. But you fell in love with it, all the same. It’s in the perfect neighborhood; it’s close to your work and is in a top ranked school district. On a nice day you can take a casual stroll to the neighborhood strip mall for some window shopping and bite of lunch. And let’s not forget, the price was right! You saw the potential in your newly acquired property that you fully intend to live in for many years to come, hopefully passing it on to your children.

It’s every person’s dream, but now you are faced with a whole slew of endeavors to whip this fixer-upper into shape…your vision. No big deal. You’re prepared with a list of remodels, improvements, and additions. All you have to do is start the ball rolling and hire a contractor or handyman, and a lot of the work you decide you can do yourself.

That’s all well and good, but not so fast there. Better look into some things a little deeper. Let’s have a look at some of the items on your list and see what the codes and regulations have to say about your intentions.

  • Install wooden privacy fence in back yard
  • Install Jacuzzi with prefab deck
  • Erect small storage shed for gardening tools
  • Install small prefab gazebo in front yard
  • New toilet in master bathroom

Okay, we’ll start with the Jacuzzi (spa)… San Diego County Building Division says, maybe. You won’t need a permit for it as long as it is prefab, and entirely above ground. You will, however, need a permit if it’s necessary to install a new electrical circuit. There are other regulations concerning fencing for Jacuzzis and/or safety covers. But since you anticipate building a new security fence, that might deal with it. Let’s find out what the county has to say about your intended fence.

No permit is required for a fence that is 6-feet or under, anything over 42 inches requires one. Don’t get all giddy just yet, there are plenty of rules for the actual installation of a fence, no matter how short or tall it is. Posts must be so many feet apart, likewise slats (for wooden fences), and the bottom support for the fence must be a specific number of inches from the ground. Color means something too… let’s say you want to paint your fence neon orange, if neighbors complain or it is deemed not to fit in with surrounding aesthetics, you might be asked (by a judge) to change it or remove it completely.

Good news, as long as your storage shed or sea cargo container will not require a permit, so long as it is no bigger than 120 square feet, is not habitable, and has no plumbing or electricity. Whew. Speaking of plumbing, you won’t need a permit for that either.

And finally, the gazebo…so long as it is prefab (wow the county likes prefab, don’t they?), and doesn’t block your neighbor’s view (like backing out of a driveway, for example), no is permit required.

You have quite a few more items on that list that we won’t cover this time. Next Friday, 9/19, we’ll continue the conversation and examine the rest of improvements you intend for the interior (new toilet in master bathroom) of your new home. Until then, here is some light reading about code compliance on San Diego County’s Planning and Development website.

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