Permits are done sequentially, not all together on a remodel for a variety of reason, some of which depends on what is actually behind the walls when the contractor get to work. If the project is a larger remodel, the city usually wants the specialty contractors to pull the permits themselves so that the city can have their licenses, identities and specialties on file.
Alternatively, on smaller jobs, contractor can pull a combo license to save time. It depends on the city where the job is.
As for ending the contract, the contract document determines your rights and risks. First, check to see if the contract complies with the home improvement contract of 2006 as required in the CA Bus & Prof Code 7159. If it does not, you can terminate contract and demand all monies paid out. If it does comply with the codes, then you may be stuck with paying for reasonable services performed (including plans & permits).
If you terminate contract without finding out the terms, you may have breached the contract.
You may want to hire counsel for this one.
Did you want to cancel the contract? If so, why? Lets answer that
question. It can't really be due to failing to pull a permit. However, its
customary to disclose to the local jurisdiction having authority the full
scope of the project and paying all permits up front. But you can always
add some permits as you go, as long as you pull them before starting that
type of work, ie, no wiring until you have the electrical permit, etc.
This answer is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an
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All permits do not necessarily need to be pulled before commencing work. This is often because permits have an expiration date. Thus, you would not be able to cancel the contract with the contractor on this basis.
Frank W. Chen is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.