County of Kern, California

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • If work is completed without the benefit of permits, it is a violation. No further permits will be issued for that site until the violation is corrected. Additional fees and/or fines may result and a lien may be placed against the property until the violation is corrected.
  • Building permits must be obtained as required for new construction. The work must comply with the applicable codes in effect at the time of application. Therefore, work that may have been legal at the time of construction, may not be acceptable at the time of permitting.
  • If the unpermitted work is commercial, a licensed architect or engineer must prepare and certify all plans and documents as indicated in this pamphlet and submit to the Building Official for review and approval. When the plans are approved by the Building Official, a building inspector will perform the normal inspections. However, any construction which the inspector cannot verify must be qualified by a licensed engineer or architect to the satisfaction of the Building Official. This may require expensive testing and/or demolition and often becomes very time consuming.
  • If the un-permitted work is residential, you can pay for a building inspector to perform a site inspection and he/she will indicate, in writing, what documents and information must be provided to the building department in order to obtain the building permit. A licensed engineer or architect may be required to certify plans and documents. Again, any work that cannot be verified by the inspector must be qualified by a licensed engineer or architect to the satisfaction of the Building Official.
  • A building permit is required for any construction which physically changes or adds structures to your property or for work regulated by local Codes or Ordinances, such as:

    • New Buildings
    • Additions-Room additions, patio covers, swimming pools, etc.
    • Alterations-Re-roofs, garage conversions, exterior stucco, new
    • Repairs-Replacement of water heaters or other plumbing fixtures, air conditioning units, new electrical service, and rewiring, etc.
    • Moving or Demolishing a building.
    • Installation of heating equipment, such as stoves, wall heaters and fireplaces.
  • A permit is not required for the following:

    • One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed one hundred twenty (120) square feet.
    • Fences not over six (6) feet high.
    • Movable cases, counters and partitions not over five (5) feet high.
    • Retaining walls not over four (4) feet high measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall and not supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II, or III-A liquids. Contact your local Building Official for walls retaining soils in close proximity of the property line.
    • Water tanks supported directly on grade if the capacity does not exceed five thousand (5000) gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed two to one (2:1).
    • Platforms, walks or driveways not more than thirty (30) inches above grade and not over any basement or story below. Contact your local Building Official if the walks or platforms are accessible to the public.
    • Painting, papering and similar finish work.
    • Temporary motion picture, television, and theater stage sets and scenery.
    • Window awnings supported by an exterior wall of Group R-3 or U-1 Occupancy when projecting not more than fifty four (54) inches.
    • Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R-3 Occupancy in which the pool walls are entirely above the adjacent grade and if the capacity does not exceed five thousand (5000) gallons. (Note: Associated electrical work does require a permit.)

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Who should I contact if my neighbor has lots of weeds on his property that creates a fire hazard?

Complaints received by the Code Compliance Unit regarding weeds will be referred to the Fire Department for investigation. For faster resolution it is suggested that you call these complaints into the local Fire Department directly. If the weeds are not a fire hazard and they are more of a maintenance problem, the complaint should be submitted to the Code Compliance Unit.