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Frank Ferry: Live from City Hall

Posted: May 20, 2013 6:54 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2013 6:54 p.m.
 

May is Building Safety Month and the ideal time to tackle all of those home-improvement projects on your "to do" list before summer is in full swing.

As you prepare your home for the warmer months, the city of Santa Clarita wants to remind you the Building and Safety Division is here to help you get the job done right.

Each year the city works with thousands of business representatives and homeowners to review and permit projects big and small to ensure compliance with state and local building codes.

In fact, Santa Clarita’s Building and Safety Division saw a 9 percent increase in overall permits issued in 2012 when compared to 2011, increasing from 3,566 to 3,900.

And the city has seen permits for solar panel systems (also known as photo voltaic systems) skyrocket since 2005.

The city processed a total of eight solar panel system permits in 2005 — compared to 581 in 2012. Building and Safety staff has already processed 311 permits for the first four months of 2013, making this permit among the most popular as home and business owners look to reduce monthly budgets and save energy.

Aside from solar panel system installation, many homeowners are often unsure about whether their projects require a city building permit. Building permits are required for most home-improvement projects including: new patio covers, decks, block walls, even replacement of old equipment such as water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners and water pipes.

Building permits are also needed for construction projects, alterations, additions,and miscellaneous plumbing, mechanical and electrical installation.

The city recognizes obtaining a permit adds another item to the "to do" list, but there are several reasons why this critical step should not be missed.

First, safety is a top priority for the city and the primary focus of the permitting process. The city’s Building & Safety Division works closely with the community to ensure that projects meet the highest standards of safety through the permitting and inspection process, which includes plan review, permit issuance, inspection, certificate of occupancy and records maintenance.

Another benefit of obtaining a permit is the ability to increase the value of your home when you sell or refinance. A building permit with a final inspection approval by the city ensures that your project is thoroughly reviewed and evaluated.Santa Clarita currently has one of the best insurance ratings in California, helping property owners save money on required home insurance.

You can also save money on monthly utility bills by installing a solar panel system, or energy-efficient water heater, furnace or air conditioner.

Standardized plans for many household projects are available through the Building and Safety Division, allowing homeowners to obtain a permit over the counter, making the process quick, convenient and compliant.

Finally, the city offers one convenient location for permit processing through the Permit Center on the first floor of City Hall. The center provides access to Planning, Building & Safety and Traffic and Development Services staff to save you time. Some permits can even be submitted, processed, and finalized through the city’s ePermits database, available at Santa-Clarita.com/ePermits.

For additional information about when permits are required, For additional information, call (661) 255-4935.

Frank Ferry is a Santa Clarita City Council member and can be reached at fferry@santa-clarita.com.

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