SB 721

Obtaining a Permit Prior to Building a Deck

It comes as a surprise to many homeowners that they need a permit for building a deck. This is understandable. If you’ve gone through all of that when you first built your home, why should you still need one now?

Decks that are poorly constructed can cause serious harm to people when an accident occurs. Securing a permit to build a deck ensures that you have fulfilled the necessary requirements proving that your intended home addition follows the building standards enforced by your state.


Why you should get a Deck Permit

Building a deck without a visit from deck inspectors could lead to some serious trouble. Some people find this out the hard way when they’re given a hefty fine for constructing an illegal addition to their abode.

Building a deck without a permit can also come back to haunt you when it is time to sell your house. Contractors can lose their licenses if they build without permits.

And that’s not all.

In some cases, the authorities will order a newly-built deck to be forcefully torn down because of the same violation. However, the worse possible scenario is someone getting seriously injured when a deck collapses because of faulty construction resulting from non-compliance with building codes set by the state/city.

That being said, it’s in the homeowner’s best interest to work within the rules and secure the right permit. In most cases, the deck inspectors are more than willing to work with you to make sure you end up with a great deck that meets all the code requirements.


Securing a Deck Permit

According to the most recent edition of the International Residential Code, decks to be constructed that are more than 30 inches above the adjacent ground will require a permit. Exemptions to this rule are the following:

  • The deck doesn’t exceed 200 square feet area
  • The deck isn’t attached to the home
  • The deck will not serve as the required exit door of the home

You’re planned deck will likely not match one or two of the criteria above which means you’ll still need to get a permit.


Deck Permit Application Requirements and Process

Here are the primary requirements when applying for a deck permit.

  • Two copies of scale drawings of the framing plan (overhead) of your proposed deck. These can either be created using computer drafting software or hand-drawn using ¼” graph paper.
  • An elevation drawing (front or side view)
  • A site plan showing the deck’s location in relation to the house and property lines

On your framing plan, indicate the locations, spacing, and sizes of your frost footings, beams, and joists. This information will be reviewed by deck inspectors to make sure it meets structural code requirements. Be sure to include notes or visual details showing how you are going to install the footings, guard rails, stairs, and the ledger board. Be specific about material types and grades you are using for the framing, decking, and rails. Include the kind of hardware and fasteners you plan to use.

To apply for one, start by finding out who issues building permits in your area and where you need to go to apply for one. Head to City Hall and check with the Building Inspection Department.

If you live in a rural area, there may be an independent inspector that covers a wide area. Fill out and submit a completed application, along with the requirements specified above.


Deck Inspectors for Southern California is happy to offer our services in Los Angeles, Orange County as well as San Diego and all Southern California surrounding areas like: Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Temecula, Vista, Escondido, Carlsbad, and El Cajon