Once a building permit has been obtained, most jurisdictions require that construction on the project commence within a certain amount of time (often 180 days). Usually the building department will need to perform at least one inspection inside this window to verify that work has begun, otherwise the permit will expire.
An expired or cancelled permit can cost up to 1/2 the price of the original permit to renew, so whether you are an owner or contractor, try not to let this happen. If you know it’s going to be delayed for some reason, it is wise to inform the building department and apply for an extension, which are usually very easily granted.
One of the reasons for this policy is that building codes change. Jurisdictions do not want to be held liable for sub-standard but otherwise permitted construction from an expired code. Placing deadlines on the life of a permit is one way to achieve this.
While the 1997 UBC lasted for 10 years here in California, codes change much more often now. Local jurisdictions mostly adhere to a “California-ized” version of the International Building Code (IBC), which is published with revisions every 3 years. Jurisdictions in California will soon adhere to the 2013 California Building Code (CBC) based on the 2012 IBC.
So, if your building department planned to adopt the 2013 CBC on January 1st of next year, you could theoretically get a permit by December 31 of this year and have 6 months to finish it under the old code, and possibly longer with an application for extension. Are there advantages to this? Probably not much. The changes are pretty minimal, especially for residential projects. (This hasn’t always been the case. I’ll never forget the mad rush to get as many projects submitted as possible prior to the conversion from the UBC to IBC back in late 2006. As it turned out, many load levels actually ended up decreasing, we just didn’t want to do things different from how we had been doing them for so long.)
If you have any questions about one of your upcoming building projects, please feel free to contact Simmons Engineering.