Legal Question in Construction Law in California

I bought my condo 6 years ago. It was originally a studio, but the previous owners put up a non-load bearing wall to create a small bedroom. I bought the condo "as is" and the realtors didn't mention any permits for this wall. My realtor has since passed away so I cannot ask her. So my question is: how do I find out if this has a permit and was one needed? I was so green then, I didn't think to even ask about it and and now wondering if I have a mess on my hands legally...

Asked on 3/01/16, 9:20 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

J. Norman Stark J. Norman Stark , Attorney, Architect

Dear Concerned: Normally, a non-load bearing (non-structural) wall - essentially a remodeling addition, does not require a building permit. If you wish to verify whether a permit was ever applied for, contact your municipal building department and request a copy of the Building Card, which is an electronic record of every construction event in connection with your property, beginning with the original construction. But, don't exp[lain why you need the information except for insurance purposes, or you'll raise a nasty spectre!

Good luck!


J. Norman Stark,

Attorney / Architect Emeritus





1109 Carnegie Avenue Cleveland, Ohio 44115

(216) 531-5310 x7100 Cel.:(216) 310-7100 Email: [email protected]

*Author: The Construction Claims Investigation Worklist®



Read more
Answered on 3/01/16, 9:31 am
Timothy McCormick Haapala, Thompson & Abern, LLP

In CA the lack of a permit for minor work is virtually a non-issue. The worst that happens is that if you go to do additional work that requires permits, the inspector for the permitted work will see there is unpermitted work when he pulls the file on the property. At that point, they will ask you to pay for a permit and inspection and anything not to code will have to be corrected. If and when you ever go to sell, you are under no obligation to tell the buyer whether the wall was permitted or not, only that you were never told either way when you bought.

Read more
Answered on 3/01/16, 12:04 pm

Related Questions & Answers

More Construction Law questions and answers in California