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Building permits are essential for home projects

Updated April 6, 2020

City approval and a building permit are required for many reasons for most home improvement projects in Cerritos. City staff and inspectors help make sure improvements fit with the neighborhood, enhance property values, and are high quality, long-lasting and safe for you and your family.

By obtaining approval and a building permit, you are also protecting yourself should you decide to sell your home. Sellers are required by law to disclose to potential buyers any work that has been completed - from a new water heater to a new den - and an unpermitted addition can hold up the sale.

In most cases, your real estate agent and the buyer will verify that your home improvements have a building permit on file. City Hall keeps a record of any building permits you or previous owners have obtained.

If you have made improvements without a permit, your buyer may reduce his or her offer price or require that you obtain a permit before the sale is final. This may be costly, as you may have to open walls and expose electrical systems and plumbing to prove that the improvement was done safely and correctly.

You can save yourself time, money and worry by completing home improvement projects with City approval and appropriate building permits. Stop by the Community Development counter on City Hall's second floor or call (562) 916-1209 for details.

Home inspectors

The City's Building and Safety Division often receives calls from homebuyers who would like a home inspected before a sale is final. This job must be handled by an independent home inspector, not City inspectors, whose job is to oversee building projects. Here are a few tips for finding a home inspector:

  • There is no formal certificate or training program for home inspectors, so skills vary. You may start your search by calling the American Society of Home Inspectors, which requires members to have experience and to follow a code of ethics. For general information, call (800) 743-2744 or visit
  • Ask an impartial real estate broker, friends or family members for a referral.
  • Before hiring the inspector, call at least three of his or her references to make sure they were satisfied.
  • Any inspector you choose should inspect all roofing, plumbing, electrical, heating, central air conditioning, insulation and ventilation systems and provide a written report of findings.
  • You may also hire a licensed contractor to check a particular area of the home such as a roofing specialist.

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