County's Self-Certification Speeds up Building Inspections for Simple Projects

July 9, 2012 | 1:42pm

Every year thousands of people come to the County’s building counters to get the permits they need to build everything from new roofs to tract housing projects — a process that includes County inspections to make sure those projects are safe.

This year the County is making the inspection process easier and faster for a lot of people while maintaining safety standards with a new service — “self certification.”

It works by letting homeowners’ contractors, architects and engineers sign off, or “self-certify,” simple projects without needing County inspections.

“We’re always looking for ways to make our review process easier for people,” said Eric Gibson, director of the County Department of Planning and Land Use. “And this can save a lot of people time by letting their certified experts do the inspections on projects like replacing water heaters and roof replacements.”

Building inspections are an important part of the building permit process. They’re designed to ensure that people are safe in and around the homes and buildings in which they live, work and play. County building inspectors, for example, make sure that buildings are strong and structurally sound, and that electrical systems won’t short and create fires.

In fact, San Diego County received top grades for its codes and inspection/enforcement system in 2009 from the Insurance Services Office, an independent rating/advisory organization that serves the property and casualty insurance industry.

However, the state building code allows local governments to authorize state-certified contractors, architects and engineers to inspect and sign off on minor residential work, in recognition that:

  • Allowing “self certification” simplifies the building permit process and saves homeowners time by not having to schedule government inspections.
  • Professionals licensed by the State of California have the expertise to ensure safety.

And that’s where San Diego County’s self-certification process comes in. By completing a few forms, homeowners can save time and skip County inspections on projects including: replacing water heaters, demolition work, new or replacement air conditioner condensers, window replacements, exterior siding or plastering, fencing and walls (over six feet in height and meeting all setbacks), interior drywall work, manufactured home retrofits, re-plumbing or re-piping, and non-structural roof replacements.

The County’s building counter personnel are telling any and all customers who have projects that qualify about the new program. For more information call the County’s Building Permit telephone line at (858) 565-5920.