14 Oct On Permits
The final draft of the complete design, or construction documents are submitted to the city Planning and Building Departments for review. If the project is an interior remodel then it will not be subject to Planning review and in some cities may obtain an over-the-counter permit. If exterior changes are required, the process could be quite lengthy. Once the drawings have been reviewed, the city will send the architect “plan check comments”. These are usually small revisions that need to be made to the drawings to be code compliant. Most projects have one round of comments, but some may incur a second round. Once all changes are accepted by the city, the permit is issued to the general contractor.
The permitting process usually takes one of three tracks:
- Over the Counter Review
- Staff or Administrative Review
- Board Level Review
An over-the-counter process for all departments can end in the best case scenarios with a permit in hand. Generally if the project would take a more lengthy review, it will be submitted ofr staff level review, which can take from 6-10 weeks. If board level design review or a variance is required, permitting along can take 6-24 months.
Waiting for permits can be a huge variable in scheduling a job. One of the primary advantages the design-build model offers over traditional construction is that we can capitalize on these delays by preparing for construction and sending out all the subcontractor scopes for bid. Many contractors will not bid work until it has a permit. Studies show design-build is as much as 33% faster than design-bid-build, and bidding delays make up a great deal of that savings.
So you may inevitably ask:
Do I need a permit?
Yes. Every construction project, regardless of size, needs a permit. Doing work without a permit affects future resale value. Additionally, permitted work ensures that there is a second set of eyes on the project (the building inspector) increasing the likelihood that construction is done correctly and safely. Should you do work without a permit and later be caught by the city, you will encounter lengthy delays and fees before work can resume.