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Easing Building Code Regulations in California – CA SB 1226

It just became easier to legalize unpermitted living spaces on your property.


The Problem


Do you own a home with unpermitted space? If so, make sure that you understand the risk involved:


  • Building codes are designed to make a structure safe. Regardless of how good your contractor is, if a tenant or visitor gets hurt in an unpermitted space, you may face serious legal consequences.
  • When selling a home, unpermitted spaces is often referred to as “bonus space” and cannot be added to the total square footage of the building. Homes typically sell close to an average price per square foot, which is determined by the local market. With less legal square footage, you’ll likely make less money than you would if that same space was permitted.
  • Read more about the risks and downfalls associated with unpermitted work here.


A Solution


So what are your options if you have an unpermitted structure on your property?


Thanks to CA Senate Bill 1226, it has become easier to make a unit legal. In simple terms, SB 1226 allows building officials to recognize an illegal unit as an existing residential building and apply the codes in effect when the building was first built in order to issue a building permit.


Let’s say your unpermitted granny unit was built in 1970. Under SB 1226, you would need to bring the unit up to 1970’s building code standards rather than 2018’s to obtain a permit. This will reduce the cost and labor needed to legalize your unit.


This is a win-win. By making it easier and less costly for homeowners to legalize existing structures on their property, homeowners benefit from a higher resale value and less risk. When living in a permitted structure, tenants are ensured that basic safety standards are met. If you’d like to learn more about legalizing your unit, visit your local planning or building department to learn more.

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