What? I need a permit for that new light fixture?

HousebathlightcloseshadowPleased with my new bathroom light, I naturally wanted to blog about it. Then it occurred to me: Was I supposed to get a permit for this?

I can’t very well be a blogger for the L.A. Times and be a scofflaw at the same time.

So I looked it up on my county’s website, and I believe I might need a permit. (The wording on the website is a bit vague, so I need to call and confirm.) The requirement does make sense. Electrical work done wrong is potentially dangerous. But really, does anyone actually get a permit to replace a single, simple light fixture?

With further investigation, I found that the permit for changing the light fixture costs $51.60, and requires two inspections, one for the "rough" stage and one for the "finish" stage. It looks like the permit process will cost more than the light fixture. Maybe I should have selected a fancier light?

This all sounded nuts to me. So I decided to research some other SoCal building departments to see if they require a permit to replace a light fixture. (See a list of all building departments in Calfornia.)

Here’s what I found out:

If you live in the city of Los Angeles, you do not need a permit to change a light fixture. The exact wording is as follows: An electrical permit is not required for the following . . . Repair or replacement of incandescent lighting fixtures in single family dwellings.

However, if you live in Culver City, you’d best get the permit. Here is the wording: The following is a partial list of items that require permit from Building Safety. . . .Wiring devices, new, replacement, or relocation (light, switch, outlet, smoke detector, ceiling fan, etc.).

On the other hand, if you’re a resident of the city of Arcadia, you’re off the hook. The wording: Some types of improvements do not require a permit. These projects include: Replacement of existing light fixtures, switches and receptacles.

So I wonder: Does everyone who replaces a light fixture get a permit when a permit is required? Are these laws just?

(Photo: KPR)