Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an express permit?

Express permits include re-roof, minor mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work, and like for like window and door change outs.

  • If a mechanical or electrical unit is located outside, you must show a 5-foot set back from the unit to the property line on your site plan.
  • all projects require a site plan, regardless of scope of work.  
Do you issue Alarm Permits?

Alarm Permits are not processed by the Building and Safety Division. Alarm permits are processed through the Police Department Website

What happens after I submit?

Once a completed application is received and reviewed, a permit technician will follow up with you with your application number & invoice or let you know if any other information is needed. While most of the permitting steps can be done remotely, a visit will still be required for applicant verification and to pick up your job card.  In most instances, the ID check and job card pick up takes less than 5 minutes. While most of the permitting process can be done remotely, applicants are welcome to come in to complete  the permitting process over the counter at any point, including submitting in person or by mail.  

Do I need an appointment?
Appointments are not mandatory but are highly recommended so we can prioritize your visit. Please call us at 626-384-5460 to set up an appointment or notify the permit technician assisting you by email.
What if my project is not an express permit?

If your project requires Planning or Engineering approval, it is likely not an express permit. Please review the “Plan Check Process”page for information regarding larger-scale projects which typically require a Planning Approval Clearance before the Buiding Division can take plans in for review. in these cases, submittals without a  “planning approval clearance” or “planning approval stamp” will be rejected.

Some examples of projects that need Planning approval include, but are not limited to:
  • Any work that results in a roof pitch change
  • landscaping and exterior changes 
  • A roofing job that changes the color or material of the roof.
  • An addition of a patio or porch
  • Changing window and/or door locations or sizes (even if like-for-like)
  • All sheds, regardless of size
  • Commercial solar submittals
  • New Pools and Spas
  • A Tenant Improvement associated with a change of use (e.g. retail to restaurant, office to restaurant, etc.)
  • Parking lot re-striping or modifications
  • Adding square footage to a building or home.
  • All walls and fences 
I received my Planning Approval Clearance, what is next?

A complete submittal package must be dropped off at the Building & Safety counter. A drop-off will be rejected if it is incomplete. Building staff may accept your submission, review it for completeness and notify you at a later time if it is incomplete. You can find the typical submittal requirements on our handouts page.

Do you offer expedited Services?

We do not offer expedited plan check services. 

Where can I verify that my Contractor has a valid license?

Click here for the Contractor State License Board home page, where you can verify if a contractor has an active license and what type of licenses they possess. Our Permit technicians also verify licenses before issuing any permits. 

How many sets of plans do I need to submit for plan check?

The number of sets required depends on the scope of work applied. Below are some examples of the required sets to submit. This list is not exhaustive. Please consult with your assigned planner and building staff to work out a plan check submittal timeline and for information regarding what items are required to submit if the project is more complex (such as a new development), and always refer to our handouts page for project-specific submittal requirements. 

Project Type Number Of Required Sets
Solar (Commercial and Residential)
3 sets of plans, 2 sets of calcs (or two letters). All Commercial PV Projects must have Planning approval and Fire department review and approval. size: 11×17. If in conjunction with new development, consult with staff.
New Detached ADU
4 sets of plans (24×36), 2 sets of calcs (8.5×11), 2 sets of energy (8.5×11), 1 address request form and 1 (8.5×11) site plan.
JADU (Conversion of the existing footprint of dwelling unit)
3 sets of plans (24×36) which must include T-24. T-24 on 8.5 x 11 (2 copies) also required
Interior T.I (with no exterior modifications and no change of use)
3 sets of plans, two sets of calcs, two sets of energy (T24) (Fire submittal separately & reviewed concurrently) on 24×36
Restaurant Interior Remodel
3 sets of plans, two sets of calcs, two sets of energy (T24) (Health and Fire submitted separately and reviewed concurrently) on 24×36
New Pool or Pool Remodel
3 sets of plans on 24×36.
Sign Permit
3 sets of plans on 11X17. Must have specs , T-24 must be included if an illuminated sign.
Patio (New)
3 sets of plans, must include specs/calcs. 11×17
Residential Addition (new room(s), expansion of living space, etc)
4 sets of plans on 24×36. T-24 and Calcs must be included in the sets. T24 and calls must also be printed on 8.5×11 (2 copies).

What is the timeframe of plan check?

The first submittal for plan check can take 4-6 weeks to complete. To speed up the process, it is important to review the handouts on the handout page to ensure your submittal is as complete as possible to avoid minor corrections on a plan review cycle. Solar submittals typically take the least time, from one business day to 6 business days. Commercial Solar projects may take longer, since they require fire department approval before we can issue permits. City Hall is CLOSED Friday Through Sunday and Holidays and plan checks are not conducted during these times. 

How long are plan checks good for? Can I submit an extension?

Plan checks are good for 180 days, If permits are not pulled prior to that time, additional fees will be required to re-activate the plan check. Permits are good for 365 days after they are issued.Extensions must be applied in writing before permit expiration and can result in a maximum of one 180-day extension. Extensions are subject to approval from the Building Official based on hardship 

I received my Permit, when will it expire?

Permits will expire if work is not commenced 180 days from the permit issuance date or if the project goes 180 days without passing inspection. To re-active expired permits renewal fees will be required. When submitting plans to our plan review consultant, the average response time for room additions and other types of minor construction projects is 10 working days. 

Can you approve my project electronically?

At the moment, we do not offer electronic plan checks and permit issuance. However, we recommend that the entire submittal package is submitted by email firstso our permit technicians can notify you if any issues are seen. Staff will reject counter submittals if they are incomplete, which can delay the process by at least one business day. 

My permit technician asked me to obtain a Sanitation Clearance for my project. What does this mean?

Some projects may trigger an approval or clearance from the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts before permits can be issued. An example would be if a new dwelling unit is proposed, such as an Accessory Dwelling Unit. Minor projects in Covina such as a bathroom remodel or or adding a bathroom to an existing home will not trigger this requirement. If you received a notice to obtain a clearance, please complete this form and send it to Once you receive an “approved” clearance form from LACSD, you will need to provide the form to your permit technician. 

Some projects need Fire Approval before permits can be issued?

EPIC-LA will take all new development – subdivision and/or new development (commercial, industrial, office, residential, etc.) and can include ADUs. See the attachment below. Tenant Improvement & Commercial Solar – Plan checks for T.I’s, renovations, modifications, and change of use, are submitted to a local fire inspector’s office. Allow a permit technician to assist you with contact information after your items are submitted for review. See the attachment “Energy Systems Requiring Fire Department Review” below.  

How do I know if my permit needs Engineering approval first?

Some submittals will be accepted for the building department permitting process, but cannot be issued unless an encroachment permit is also issued at or before the building permit is issued. If your project involves work outside of the property and on to the public right of way, or, if the project site has no sidewalk but the scope of work is close to the front property line, you will need to check in with engineering staff. Some examples include, but are not limited to:

– breaking the sidewalk or working in the front of the property, where there is no sidewalk

– sewer lateral connection​

Should I pay school fee's?

Projects that involve a newly built structure, or the addition of square feet to a structure, will likely need to check in with their school district before the Building Division can issue any permits. Whether or not fees are applied, your project may be required to check in with the school district before obtaining permits.  See the document “School Districts in Covina ” to determine the school district servicing your area. 

Construction Hours

Per CMC 9.40.110 Construction or repair work or use of Construction type equipment or device is unlawful between the hours of 8:00 p.m of any one day and 7:00 a.m of the next day, at any time on any Sunday or at any time on any public holiday in such a manner that is reasonable a person of normal sensitivity residing in the area is caused discomfort or annoyance.

For projects requiring a planning approval clearance before obtaining a building permit: Refer to your “Conditions of Approval” as noted on your planning approval clearance for location-specific construction hours.

What is the Zoning Designation for my property?

Check out our public GIS Viewer (online Map). Type in the property address to find your property’s zoning. If you need further assistance, please contact Planning at (626) 384-5450.

Instructions for how to use the online GIS map can be found here

Where are my property lines?

Visit the Los Angeles County Assessor to view your property on a parcel map with approximate property line dimensions. Or, you can hire a professional land surveyor to determine the exact dimensions and location of your property lines.

How high can my fence be?

Generally, a residential zoned property may have a wall or fence 5 feet high maximum in the front yard and a maximum of 8 feet in height in the side and rear yards. When within a safety sight line, the portion of the fence above 30 inches in height shall be of an open work design. For additional requirements refer to CMC Chapter 17.71  Walls, Fences, and Screening  in the Zoning Code.

A legal non-conforming property is a property that was legally constructed, but does not conform to current code provisions and standards. This means that certain additions and modifications to the property will have to conform with the current zoning code. Example: Legal non-conforming garage with a 1-foot rear setback is being remodeled to a 2-story, 3 car garage. If this modification were to be approved, the new garage would have to meet current zoning code setbacks. Therefore, the 1-foot rear setback would no longer be allowed.

Do I need Planning Approval to build a fence/block wall on my property?

Yes. Under Planning, a Wall and Fence approval is required for all fences and walls regardless of height and location. Once you receive your Planning Approval, you must then obtain a building permit by the City Building Official. Additionally, if you are proposing a retaining wall or constructing a wall greater than 6 feet in height, structural plans are required for a building permit.

Yes. A Property Owners Agreement for Shared Block Wall/Fencing is required prior to obtaining Planning Approval.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU)

Frequently Asked Questions

IMPORTANT: Before applying, please verify the project address jurisdiction to determine if Covina is the appropriate agency to process your request. Any Covina address that is within “LA County” Jurisdiction must submit directly to the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning.

Where are ADUs allowed?
Accessory dwelling units (ADUs), Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs), and efficiency units are permitted on lots that are zoned to allow single-family or multi-family residential uses that include an existing or proposed dwelling.
Do ADUs require a covenant?

Yes. All accessory dwelling units require a covenant agreement, per Ordinance No. 22-06, passed, approved, and adopted May 17, 2022.

What are some General ADU guidelines?

Per ADU Ordinance No. 22-06, ADUs greater than 800 square feet shall comply with newly adopted ADU design standards.  Refer to Covina Municipal Code Section 17.69.040.   The accessory dwelling unit shall provide complete and independent living facilities.If there is an existing primary dwelling, the total floor area of an attached ADU shall not exceed 50% of the existing primary dwelling.  For detached ADUs, the total floor area shall not exceed 1,000 square feet.

What are the standards for a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU)? How are they different from ADUs?
  • JADUs are units limited to 500 square feet in size that are contained within the walls of an existing or proposed single-family residence.  One   JADU is allowed on a lot with a proposed or existing single-family home.
  • A JADU must have a separate entrance from the main entrance of the residence, and must include an efficient kitchen with cooking appliances and a small food preparation and storage area. 
  • In contrast to ADUs, owner occupancy of the JADU or the primary dwelling is required, unless the owner is a government agency, land trust, or housing organization.
  • A deed restriction must be recorded to prohibit separate conveyance and restrict the size and attributes of the JADU.
  • No additional parking is required for a JADU.
  • An efficiency unit is one not less than 220 square feet in size.
What is the maximum height for ADUs? What is the minimum setback requirement?

Maximum building height shall not exceed 16 feet in height when it is located at least 4 feet from a side and rear property line. ADUs greater than 16 feet in height, (i.e. detached two story ADUs, a second-story ADU above a garage, the addition of a second-story ADU to an existing single-story residence, the addition of an attached two-story ADU to the primary residence, or any combination thereof) shall be permitted within the primary residence “buildable area,” as determined under CMC Sections 17.14 and 17.26 residential development standards. Single-story accessory dwelling units shall meet all the minimum 4-foot side and rear yard setback requirement.  Accessory dwelling units within existing structures are not subject to additional building setbacks.

If I convert my garage to an ADU, will I be required to replace onsite parking?

When a garage, carport, or covered parking structure is converted or demolished to construct an ADU, replacement parking of the lost off-street parking is no longer required.Other development standards, such as limits on lot coverage, floor area ratio, or open space requirements, cannot be applied to the extent they would prohibit an ADU that is at least 800 square feet and 16 feet tall, with a 4-foot rear and side yard setback.

What are the ADU parking requirements?
At least one parking space for the accessory dwelling unit shall be provided if the proposed accessory dwelling unit is not within ½ mile of public transit, measured by the walking distance from the ADU to public transit. An “as-the-crow” flies” measurement does not count. Notably, “public transit” shall include any bus stop, train station, or other location where the public can access buses, trains, subways, and other forms of public transportation.
I have a Single Family property, how many ADUs can I have on my lot?

A detached ADU may be combined with a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU) that complies with the requirements described above, such that two additional units (one detached and one attached) are allowed on the lot.  Given the size limitations, this means that a property could have a 500-square-foot JADU attached to the house and an up to an 800-square foot detached ADU.

I have a sloped lot, are ADU requirements the same?

Detached ADU sited within four to one or greater slopes, whether upslope or downslope, or within a High to Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone (FHSZ) designation from Los Angeles County Fire Department, shall meet the following requirements: 

  • May encroach into the four to one ( 4: 1) or greater slopes by a maximum distance of 6 feet; 
  • Require Planning review and Los Angeles County Fire Department Review; 
  • Provide a minimum 10-foot fire defensive zone around the ADU (Defensible space is the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it. CALFIRE); 
  • Comply with construction requirements in the California Building Code and California Residential Code that are specific to the wildland-urban interface fire area. 
  • Roof material shall be tiles, slate or imitation thereof. Where the roof material for the main house consists of composition shingles, detached ADU can include the same material. If composition shingles are used, 40-year or higher grade architectural dimension shingles shall be used. 
Can I convert existing space on my Multi-Family lot to ADUs?
Yes. The portions of an existing multifamily dwelling, in spaces not used as living space can be converted to additional units or ADUs. Examples include conversion of storage rooms, boiler rooms, attics, basements, and garages. Each proposed new unit must comply with building standards. The number of ADUs that may be created in a multifamily dwelling is equal to 25% of the number of existing units, or one accessory unit, whichever is greater.
Can I build new detached ADUs on my Multi-Family lot?
Not more than two detached ADUs on a lot with an existing multifamily dwelling can be built. The accessory units are subject to a 16-foot height limit and must maintain at least a 4-foot rear and side yard setback.
Can I convert existing space AND build new ADUs on my multi-family lot?
No. An applicant may apply to build ADUs either under the conversion of existing space category or under the new detached ADUs category, but not both.
How can I get approval for my ADU Project?

The first step is to submit your project to the Planning Division for review and approval. Any applications submitted to Building & Safety without a Planning Approval Clearance will be rejected and referred back to the Planning Division. “Building Permit Only” categories must still be submitted to Planning for verification of compliance before proceeding with Building & Safety.

 Step 1: Review the Frequently Asked Questions Above and review the ADU Checklist

Step 2: Complete the ADU application form and assemble a submittal package as directed in the ADU application form. Need help determining what is needed on the plans? refer to sections 2 and 3 of the Site Plan Review handout. 

Step 3: Submit items from Step 2 to or in person at the Planning counter (Mail is okay). 

Please allow up to 15 days for planning staff to make a determination and to follow up with further instructions. For mail in option, allow up to 15 days after confirmation of receipt of package. If mailing your package, mail with attention to: Planning Division, City of Covina, 125 E College Stree, Covina, CA 91723.


I already received a Planning Approval Clearance from the Planning Division, what is the next step?

Review the “conditions of Approval” section located on your Planning Approval Clearance document. As a requirement of submittal for building plan check, the Planning approval and the approved site plan, elevation, and floor plan shall be included as part of your submittal package. Typically these documents are located immediately after the title/cover page of the construction plans and are noted in the index on the cover page. See the steps below. Questions regarding Building Plan check can be inquired with the Building & Safety Division at 626-384-5460.

Submitting to Building & Safety for plan check: 

Step 1: Review the Planning Approval Clearance provided to you by your case planner and integrate the Clearance and the stamped-approved site plan, floor plan, and elevations into construction plan set. 

Step 2: Review the Building & Safety ADU Handout, Residential Submittal Checklist , and plan check process page

Step 3: Prepare required documents according to Steps 1 and 2, and complete the Building Permit Application Form, complete the Address Request Form and provide either homeowner, contractor, or agent of contractor information. 

Step 4: Submit prepared items in Step 3 to the Building Safety Division for Plan check. 

* This page was last updated on February 12, 2024

* This page was last verified (reviewed) on November 7, 2022

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