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Old 10-17-2014, 05:44 AM
 
2 posts, read 1,783 times
Reputation: 10

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I want to build a small house/cabin on a somewhat secluded piece of land I own (.2 acres) in LA County. The land is zoned A1 which is residential. I've also been told that to build on this land LA County requires an Environmental Impact Report.

My concern is whether building a house by hand is something I could even get away with in LA without tremendous cost. I'm concerned that the mere act of building a house that's not thousands of square feet is enough to not get approved to legally build it. On top of that, the idea of building a house on my own without architects/contractors would also raise the eyebrows whoever is in charge of this type of thing and that that may be yet another reason for them to deny me the possibility to build a house on my own land...even if my intentions are to build a house that looks good and fits into the surroundings quite well.

One thing I have going for me is the land is in a fairly wooded, hilly area without many neighbors nearby. There are only a few houses in the area and they would only see the building site as they drove by on the road...it wouldn't be in view just from their backyard or anything like that. So it's not like I'm planning to build in the center of a subdivision. The other houses in the area are fairly unique, cabin-like (possibly even built by their respective owners), and old.

So, is this dream of building a small place cheaply (sub $100,000) and on my own something that can even be done these days without breaking the law a million different ways? I'm not even sure where I need to go to get approval for this sort of thing and don't look forward to the paperwork/bureaucracy/hoops I'm going to have to jump through just to do what I want on my own land.

For the record I hope to build a house like this...except on a foundation:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSzgh3D7-Q0

Or, maybe one like this:

Z-Glass Plans

Anyways, as you can see, the houses are small. I wouldn't mind building houses slightly bigger than this, but definitely don't want to build anything huge as I'm the only person doing the building.

I'm basically wondering who I need to go to get approval for this sort of thing and what they'll be expecting from me. I want to know how I can make it happen as cheaply as possible (permits/fees wise) so I can put the money towards the house. Plenty of people used to build their own cabins/houses back in the day, I'd like to try to do so myself. Thoreau did it, why can't I (if not for government approval)?
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Old 10-17-2014, 11:44 AM
 
Location: West Hollywood
3,196 posts, read 2,351,854 times
Reputation: 5262
You have to submit plans(blueprints and such) to the county for approval. The house must meet minimum structural requirements, including the soundness of the structure itself, proper plumbing, proper electrical, minimum number of windows and egress doors, etc. You'll want to pay a professional to design the home.
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Old 10-17-2014, 12:20 PM
 
2 posts, read 1,783 times
Reputation: 10
I definitely wouldn't mind paying an architect say $10,000 (which may even be high for a sub-1,000 sqft. house), but, I would like to build it all myself. I'm wondering if building laws are such that building it myself--without a contractor--would come under scrutiny. Also, since the house would be small it would be worth less than the houses around it and that might be a source of scrutiny as well.
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Old 10-17-2014, 12:36 PM
 
Location: West Hollywood
3,196 posts, read 2,351,854 times
Reputation: 5262
If your house passes inspection then it doesn't matter if you built it yourself. There's no law that you have to pay someone to build your house. But there may be local laws and ordinances that could prevent you from building the sort of house you want. Lots of communities don't want houses with low values. It could potentially bring down the values of nearby homes.
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Old 10-17-2014, 12:37 PM
 
822 posts, read 920,440 times
Reputation: 626
Your neighbors would go apes. That would stand out in the neighborhood.
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Old 10-18-2014, 12:42 PM
 
197 posts, read 219,364 times
Reputation: 204
As long as it follows code it's all good. I recommend you check out all the codes online. I'm going to build a cabin in Big Bear and there are a lot of little things I didn't know about. For example having to install fire sprinkler system, carbon monoxide alarm, etc.
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Old 10-18-2014, 10:55 PM
 
Location: downtown
1,826 posts, read 1,152,482 times
Reputation: 408
sucks to do things like this in a state like California.
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