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Los Angeles Permit Expediter Guide

Britain Jacobson

Britain Jacobson

Last updated:

Jun 14, 2024

Published:

June 14, 2024

Reading time:

6

minutes

Navigating the complexities of building permits in Los Angeles can be daunting, but hiring a permit expediter can streamline the process. These professionals specialize in managing and expediting permit applications, ensuring compliance with local regulations. 

Whether your project involves minor renovations or new construction, understanding how a permit expediter can assist is crucial for a smooth permitting experience.

What is a permit expediter?

A permit expediter is a professional service provider or consultant who helps clients navigate the process of applying for a building permit. In cities like Los Angeles with complex regulations, a permit expediter can help ease the burden and simplify the process of successfully obtaining a permit. 

Permit expediters in Los Angeles ideally have extensive knowledge of local building codes, zoning laws, and how to work with the LA Department of Building and Safety (LADBS). Their job is to become an extension of your construction team to complete the permit application and oversee the process on your behalf.

As part of their duties, your Los Angeles permit expediter will serve as the main point of contact for plan checkers at the LADBS and coordinate with your team to retrieve any additional information the LADBS needs as it reviews your application. Some expediters even have relationships with LADBS staff, so they have a strong firsthand understanding of how to communicate with personnel effectively and how to submit an application with the greatest chance of quick success.

LA permit expediter cost

Permit expediters in LA set their own rates, so prices vary from provider to provider. Expect to pay at least $75/hour, up to a few hundred dollars per hour for a permit expediter in Los Angeles. 

Who is in charge of building permits in Los Angeles?

The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety is in charge of building permits in Los Angeles. LADBS requires a permit for any private construction, alteration, or renovation project in the City of Los Angeles  A permit from LADBS is required for most construction, alteration, and repair work on buildings within the City of Los Angeles.

How long do permits take in Los Angeles?

After submitting your application, you can usually expect to receive your building permit within 2 weeks for a residential project, or 4 or more weeks for commercial projects. The scope of the project plays a huge role in how long approval will take. Certain small projects may be approved within a day, while big new construction projects may take months or even over a year to be approved.

The LA Department of Building and Safety uses a Regular Plan Check process to review permit applications. However, you may be able to pay 50% more of the plan check fee for an expedited review process.

How do I get a permit in Los Angeles County?

Every city in California has its own permitting policies, which means obtaining a permit in Los Angeles is not going to be the same process as getting one in San Francisco, San Diego, or another California city.

If you’re ready to tackle a new project in LA County, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the unique LA permitting process, which we outline below:

1. Obtain zoning information

First, you’ll need to determine which LA jurisdiction your property falls under. This will help you pinpoint which permits you need and which local codes and laws you need to adhere to.

The City Planning department offers an online tool called ZIMAS (Zone Info Map Access System) where you can get zoning and property information.

If you hire an LA permit expediter, they’ll be able to do this for you.

2. Draft and submit your site plans

Next, your architect or construction team will need to draft and finalize the plans for the work to be done. The LADBS will review these site plans to make sure they are safe and adhere to all local building codes. 

You can submit your site plans online or in-person.

If you opt for an in-person plan check, you’ll need to schedule an appointment at an LADBS office. Make sure you attend the appointment with all the required documentation, a list of which will be included in your confirmation email.

3. Undergo plan review and revision

During the Plan Check Process, LADBS officials will review your site plans thoroughly. If there are any errors or safety violations, you’ll be asked to revise and correct the plans accordingly. 

Pro tip: Working with an LA permit expediter or using software like PermitFlow can help you avoid plan errors so that your application is approved on the first go.  

It’s possible that your plans will need to be reviewed and approved by multiple city departments and agencies. 

Your plans may need to be reviewed by one or more of the following departments:

  • Planning
  • Housing
  • Department of Water and Power
  • Cultural Affairs
  • Fire
  • Public Works
  • Transportation
  • Health
  • Oil and Gas
  • Cal OSHA

4. Receive your permit

Congratulations! Once all relevant departments and agencies have approved your plans, you’ll receive your construction permit and be ready to start work. Make sure you post your permit at the job site.

5. Undergo inspections

During the construction phase, you’ll need to request certain inspections. Your project won’t be fully approved until the LADBS has inspected the worksite. 

There are various types of inspections your project may be subject to, including:

  • Residential
  • Electrical
  • Elevator
  • HVAC
  • Mechanical
  • Grading
  • Plumbing
  • Green Building
  • Temporary Special Events

Regular field inspections are performed on weekdays until 3:30 pm. Off-hours inspections are available upon request, as are Saturday inspections for single-family homes. 

When your worksite is ready for an inspection, you can schedule one online or by calling 311. If you’re outside the LA area, you can call (213) 473-3231 to schedule an inspection.

Pros and cons of hiring a Los Angeles permit expediter

Thinking about hiring a permit expediter for your next project? Before you do, make sure you weigh the potential pros and cons first.

Pros

  • Knowledge of the permitting process: Los Angeles permit expeditors deeply understand the laws governing LA building codes and permitting processes, so they can advise you on things like ADA compliance, zoning, entitlement, project materials, and more. 
  • Avoid costly mistakes: A permit expediter’s knowledge can help prevent missteps when drafting and submitting plans that would be expensive to correct.
  • Mitigate setbacks during the application process: Should any issues arise during the Plan Check Review, your expediter will have the knowledge and resources to resolve it quickly.
  • Connections: Most LA permit expediters have connections and relationships with local city officials and LADBS employees. They can use these connections to help your permit get reviewed and approved faster.
  • Unique insights: Permit expediters are intimately familiar with the permitting process. As such, they can provide unique tips and share insights that you might not be privy to otherwise. For example, your expediter can help you take advantage of seasonality to stay under budget.

Cons

  • Juggling clients: If you work with a permit expediter who is an independent contractor, they might be juggling other clients and unable to give your case the attention it needs.
  • Lack of expertise: Though a permit expediter’s biggest requirement is to be knowledgeable about the local permitting process, some expediters are part of a larger firm that offers a lot of other services—so permit expediting is not their bread and butter. In these situations, it’s possible that the expediter you hire isn’t actually an expert on the codes and laws in your jurisdiction.
  • Inapplicable specialization: Some permit expediters only specialize or have experience pulling certain types of permits. 
  • Unnecessary for small projects: For certain small-scale projects, hiring a permit expediter may be overkill. 
  • Limited service area: If you work on projects beyond LA County, a permit expediter probably won’t be able to help you with all of them because most expediters only have regional expertise. For example, if you hire a permit expediter for a project in Los Angeles, they won’t be able to help with your other project in San Jose.

Work with PermitFlow instead

PermitFlow is the best alternative to hiring a Los Angeles permit expediter. PermitFlow is permit software that streamlines the process of preparing and submitting a permit application. 

With PermitFlow, you’ll improve your chances of getting approved quickly so that you can get started on your project without delays. PermitFlow helps you understand the permitting quirks across municipalities so you can navigate the process in any city with ease.

PermitFlow’s easy-to-use platform makes submitting, tracking, and pulling permits effortless. You can count on the PermitFlow team to prepare and submit your application without a hitch. 

Navigating the complexities of building permits in Los Angeles can be daunting, but hiring a permit expediter can streamline the process. These professionals specialize in managing and expediting permit applications, ensuring compliance with local regulations. 

Whether your project involves minor renovations or new construction, understanding how a permit expediter can assist is crucial for a smooth permitting experience.

What is a permit expediter?

A permit expediter is a professional service provider or consultant who helps clients navigate the process of applying for a building permit. In cities like Los Angeles with complex regulations, a permit expediter can help ease the burden and simplify the process of successfully obtaining a permit. 

Permit expediters in Los Angeles ideally have extensive knowledge of local building codes, zoning laws, and how to work with the LA Department of Building and Safety (LADBS). Their job is to become an extension of your construction team to complete the permit application and oversee the process on your behalf.

As part of their duties, your Los Angeles permit expediter will serve as the main point of contact for plan checkers at the LADBS and coordinate with your team to retrieve any additional information the LADBS needs as it reviews your application. Some expediters even have relationships with LADBS staff, so they have a strong firsthand understanding of how to communicate with personnel effectively and how to submit an application with the greatest chance of quick success.

LA permit expediter cost

Permit expediters in LA set their own rates, so prices vary from provider to provider. Expect to pay at least $75/hour, up to a few hundred dollars per hour for a permit expediter in Los Angeles. 

Who is in charge of building permits in Los Angeles?

The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety is in charge of building permits in Los Angeles. LADBS requires a permit for any private construction, alteration, or renovation project in the City of Los Angeles  A permit from LADBS is required for most construction, alteration, and repair work on buildings within the City of Los Angeles.

How long do permits take in Los Angeles?

After submitting your application, you can usually expect to receive your building permit within 2 weeks for a residential project, or 4 or more weeks for commercial projects. The scope of the project plays a huge role in how long approval will take. Certain small projects may be approved within a day, while big new construction projects may take months or even over a year to be approved.

The LA Department of Building and Safety uses a Regular Plan Check process to review permit applications. However, you may be able to pay 50% more of the plan check fee for an expedited review process.

How do I get a permit in Los Angeles County?

Every city in California has its own permitting policies, which means obtaining a permit in Los Angeles is not going to be the same process as getting one in San Francisco, San Diego, or another California city.

If you’re ready to tackle a new project in LA County, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the unique LA permitting process, which we outline below:

1. Obtain zoning information

First, you’ll need to determine which LA jurisdiction your property falls under. This will help you pinpoint which permits you need and which local codes and laws you need to adhere to.

The City Planning department offers an online tool called ZIMAS (Zone Info Map Access System) where you can get zoning and property information.

If you hire an LA permit expediter, they’ll be able to do this for you.

2. Draft and submit your site plans

Next, your architect or construction team will need to draft and finalize the plans for the work to be done. The LADBS will review these site plans to make sure they are safe and adhere to all local building codes. 

You can submit your site plans online or in-person.

If you opt for an in-person plan check, you’ll need to schedule an appointment at an LADBS office. Make sure you attend the appointment with all the required documentation, a list of which will be included in your confirmation email.

3. Undergo plan review and revision

During the Plan Check Process, LADBS officials will review your site plans thoroughly. If there are any errors or safety violations, you’ll be asked to revise and correct the plans accordingly. 

Pro tip: Working with an LA permit expediter or using software like PermitFlow can help you avoid plan errors so that your application is approved on the first go.  

It’s possible that your plans will need to be reviewed and approved by multiple city departments and agencies. 

Your plans may need to be reviewed by one or more of the following departments:

  • Planning
  • Housing
  • Department of Water and Power
  • Cultural Affairs
  • Fire
  • Public Works
  • Transportation
  • Health
  • Oil and Gas
  • Cal OSHA

4. Receive your permit

Congratulations! Once all relevant departments and agencies have approved your plans, you’ll receive your construction permit and be ready to start work. Make sure you post your permit at the job site.

5. Undergo inspections

During the construction phase, you’ll need to request certain inspections. Your project won’t be fully approved until the LADBS has inspected the worksite. 

There are various types of inspections your project may be subject to, including:

  • Residential
  • Electrical
  • Elevator
  • HVAC
  • Mechanical
  • Grading
  • Plumbing
  • Green Building
  • Temporary Special Events

Regular field inspections are performed on weekdays until 3:30 pm. Off-hours inspections are available upon request, as are Saturday inspections for single-family homes. 

When your worksite is ready for an inspection, you can schedule one online or by calling 311. If you’re outside the LA area, you can call (213) 473-3231 to schedule an inspection.

Pros and cons of hiring a Los Angeles permit expediter

Thinking about hiring a permit expediter for your next project? Before you do, make sure you weigh the potential pros and cons first.

Pros

  • Knowledge of the permitting process: Los Angeles permit expeditors deeply understand the laws governing LA building codes and permitting processes, so they can advise you on things like ADA compliance, zoning, entitlement, project materials, and more. 
  • Avoid costly mistakes: A permit expediter’s knowledge can help prevent missteps when drafting and submitting plans that would be expensive to correct.
  • Mitigate setbacks during the application process: Should any issues arise during the Plan Check Review, your expediter will have the knowledge and resources to resolve it quickly.
  • Connections: Most LA permit expediters have connections and relationships with local city officials and LADBS employees. They can use these connections to help your permit get reviewed and approved faster.
  • Unique insights: Permit expediters are intimately familiar with the permitting process. As such, they can provide unique tips and share insights that you might not be privy to otherwise. For example, your expediter can help you take advantage of seasonality to stay under budget.

Cons

  • Juggling clients: If you work with a permit expediter who is an independent contractor, they might be juggling other clients and unable to give your case the attention it needs.
  • Lack of expertise: Though a permit expediter’s biggest requirement is to be knowledgeable about the local permitting process, some expediters are part of a larger firm that offers a lot of other services—so permit expediting is not their bread and butter. In these situations, it’s possible that the expediter you hire isn’t actually an expert on the codes and laws in your jurisdiction.
  • Inapplicable specialization: Some permit expediters only specialize or have experience pulling certain types of permits. 
  • Unnecessary for small projects: For certain small-scale projects, hiring a permit expediter may be overkill. 
  • Limited service area: If you work on projects beyond LA County, a permit expediter probably won’t be able to help you with all of them because most expediters only have regional expertise. For example, if you hire a permit expediter for a project in Los Angeles, they won’t be able to help with your other project in San Jose.

Work with PermitFlow instead

PermitFlow is the best alternative to hiring a Los Angeles permit expediter. PermitFlow is permit software that streamlines the process of preparing and submitting a permit application. 

With PermitFlow, you’ll improve your chances of getting approved quickly so that you can get started on your project without delays. PermitFlow helps you understand the permitting quirks across municipalities so you can navigate the process in any city with ease.

PermitFlow’s easy-to-use platform makes submitting, tracking, and pulling permits effortless. You can count on the PermitFlow team to prepare and submit your application without a hitch. 

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