Building Division

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Do I need a permit for play houses and/or storage sheds?
A building permit is not required for one story, ground level detached accessory structures used as tool or storage sheds, play houses, and buildings of similar use, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet. These structures shall not have electrical or plumbing.
However the location of the structure; regardless of the size, must obtain approval by the Planning Division prior to placement.



How do I report my neighbor if they are altering or adding to their property without Building Permits?
If you suspect your neighbor of altering or adding to his property without a permit or Planning Division approval you can report it to the Building Division at (562) 801-4360.



How do I request a building inspection?
You may call the Building Division at (562) 801-4360 or visit our Counter at City Hall.  Inspections can only be scheduled by speaking directly to a Counter Services Representative.
When placing an inspection request, please have the following information available: the project address or location, the builder's name, the type of inspection, the permit number and a telephone number where you may be reached.  Inspection requests received by the Department before 3 p.m. will typically be scheduled for the next business day.  Requests received after 3 p.m. will be scheduled for the second business day.



When do I need a building permit?
With only a few exceptions, a building permit must be issued prior to the commencement of work to erect, construct, enlarge, alter, move, improve, remove, convert, or demolish any building or structure.  Other permits, i.e. electrical, plumbing or mechanical, may also be required. A permit applies to work on the interior as well as exterior of the structure. A permit for minor work may be approved over-the-counter or within a few days. Work covered by the building permit must have a final city inspection before the project can be considered complete. Due to the diversity of construction projects, we would recommend that you contact our Building Division to discuss the types of permits and City review process that may be required for your proposed project.   Based on the construction valuation, permit fees will also be charged. The Building Division may be reached at (562) 801-4360 or visit our Counter at City Hall.

When do I need a demolition permit?
A permit is required whenever a building or structure is being demolished.  This is to assure that construction debris has been removed, sewer or septic lines have been properly capped and the site is restored to a safe condition to ensuring that all health and safety hazards have been removed.  Demolition permits are usually issued over-the- counter at the Building Division, and the permit fees are minimal.

California State Law also requires that all contaminants, such as lead and asbestos, be properly disposed of.  Therefore, it is of utmost importance that all demolition permit applicants first obtain clearance from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, prior to applying for a demolition permit from the City of Pico Rivera. 

South Coast Air Quality Management District may be reached at 21865 Copley Dr. - Diamond Bar CA 91765, call (909) 396-2000, or visit the District's website.

Can I obtain a building permit over the counter?
Some permits for minor work may be issued over the counter; such as:

  • Residential Wall Furnace Replacement (Replacement only/ same location)
  • Residential Electrical Panel Upgrade (Existing to 200 Amp maximum service)
  • Residential Electrical Fixtures, Receptacles & Switches (Replacement of lighting and fixtures, receptacles or switches.)
  • Residential Water Heater Replacement and Upgrade (replacement only- same location)
  • Residential Water Piping Replacement (replacement only)
  • Residential Free-Standing Blockwall ; to 6 feet (new or replacement, Planning approval required).


What are the requirements for permits for swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs?
Permit requirements and review processes vary, based on the type of swimming pool, spa, or hot tub that is being installed.  We recommend that you contact the Building Division via phone at (562) 801-4360 or visit our Counter at City Hall.

How do I apply for a building permit?
Applications must be submitted on forms provided by the Building Division. You can download the preliminary form here and submit it to the Building Division. Note that most permits cannot be issued over-the-counter. Depending on the scope of work, you may be  required to submit construction plans and also to obtain approvals from other departments or agencies. For more information, please contact the Building Division at (562) 801-4360.

What is required on plans and specifications?
When plans and specifications are required, they must be drawn to scale and must be of sufficient clarity to indicate the nature and extent of the work proposed. Plans must show in detail that such work will conform to all relevant laws, ordinances and regulations, including energy, structural calculations and soils reports when required. They may need to be signed by a licensed architect or registered civil engineer. The first sheet of each set must have the address of the site, the name and address of the owner and the name of the person who prepared the plans. Submittals must include a drawing showing the location of property lines, the building and/or the work to be done.

What happens once I submit plans?
If your project is a very simple one, such as a window replacement, kitchen remodel, etc., you may be able to qualify for a minor-permit and be able to obtain the permit that day or soon thereafter. A "full" building permit processing will be necessary should the building envelope be increased and/or structural plans be required; geology and soils reports may also be necessary. These projects must be reviewed by specified City Divisions and Departments to ensure that they meet all the City's requirements, and also that the construction is structurally sound. Depending on the nature of the project, you may also be required obtain approval from other non-City departments such as LA County Fire Department, LA County Health Department, etc.

The design of the building (and the structural calculations) is reviewed by the Plan Checker. The Planning Division also reviews the plans to ensure that the zoning regulations are being met. The Public Works Department Engineer checks the project for conformance to environmental quality laws and also makes sure that driveway drainage and grading meet City requirements. Additional fees may be required.

When the City review is completed, the Building Division staff will notify you that the plans have been checked and that you may now obtain your building permit. Once the permit is final, approved residential plans are retained by the City for a period of not less than 180 days. Plans for completed commercial and industrial construction are retained permanently.

What about workers compensation?
After building plans are approved and signed by City staff, the permit is ready to "issue". Either an owner/builder or a State licensed contractor may be issued a permit, but each must comply with the Workers Compensation Insurance laws. The State of California mandates that cities ensure that these laws are followed. 

There is only one circumstance in which Workers Compensation Insurance is not needed, and that is if the owner/builder or contractor does all the work completely by him or herself. This means that you must have Workers Compensation Insurance regardless of whether the persons assisting you (i.e., family or friends) are paid or non-paid. 

If a State licensed contractor is being issued the permit, he/she will need a City business license, which will require that a contractor's license (pocket card) be produced.

How long is my building permit valid?
A Building Permit is valid for 180 days from the date of issuance. It may continue to be renewed every 180 days thereafter by calling for a required City inspection, which will demonstrate progress is being made in completing the work. If work authorized under a permit is suspended for 180 days or more, the permit will lapse. A permit may be extended for 180 days by paying a Permit extension fee to extend the permit, provided no changes have been made in the original plans and the work has not been suspended or abandoned for a year or more. The permit may be "renewed" after expiration by payment of the full permit fee. It is possible that plans may need to be rechecked for conformance with current codes.

How to Legalize Unpermitted Construction?
Residents are advised that the construction of new structures (and alterations to existing structures) requires a City building permit. Structures which are constructed without a building permit are often not built to code and in some cases cannot be legalized due to zoning regulations (such as garage conversions). 

There are various fees involved in legalizing unpermitted construction and such fees can include, but are not limited to: a review fee by the Planning Division, a Housing Investigation fee, a plan check review fee by the Building Division, a fee for the building permit, Waste Management Fees, School Fees, a demolition permit fee, etc. 

There are other out-of-pocket expenses, such as fees for obtaining an architect or engineer to draw out your plans, the cost of labor to bring the structure(s) up to code and the cost of materials.

For specific information regarding how you can legalize your non-permitted construction and to determine if such construction can be legalized, please contact the Planning Division at (562) 801-4332.