November 27th, 2017

Construction workers and architects at a construction site viewed from above.

Construction workers and architects at a construction site viewed from above.

By Helen Callier

Texas continues to show a good demand in construction across markets in Dallas, Fort Worth; and farm land between Austin and San Antonio is being consumed quickly. This push along with Houston recovering from Hurricane Harvey is driving the increase in the number of building permits being pulled.

As Project Owners are eager to find a new location and build out their restaurant or retail or other space, it is important for them consider the building permitting process in the early phases to minimize any surprises in fees and zoning requirements.

Here are five key points to make sure building permits are being pulled in a timely manner.

Review detailed site analysis during selection phase: Brokers will typically provide project owners with three or more sites to evaluate that meet identified target market and demographics. This is the ideal time to conduct zoning requirements research, review fees and note any internal jurisdiction issues that might cause delays in obtaining a building permit and subsequently, impact starting construction on time.

Plan for permit during project scoping phase: This phase allows project owners to ask specific questions if certain design aspects will be building codes and if will create any issues. Also, this is a good time to have a pre-meeting with city plan reviewers to obtain input on what is in compliance and what would be a problem. This step alone will save a significant amount of time and money.

Check with architect and contractor about building permit and any expected delays: What you do not know in the early stage about your design and tenant build-out project will cost you. It is a lower cost to catch any compliance-related issues before plans are submitted to city permitting. Once submitted and plans do not meet building codes then the volley game with rejections begins and you can expect delays in obtaining your permit. The Key: Communicate on a regular basis with your contractor and architect.

Confirm contractor and engaged trades are certified and professional-minded: There has been a rising trend of a contractor on small-to-medium sized jobs (up to $10 million) where a project owner attempted to close out the job and call for final inspection or attempt to obtain certificate of occupancy and was shocked to find that their contractor did not pull a permit. Depending on the amount of historical records available on the building, this scenario can cost thousands of additional dollars, including loss time to obtain a building permit, call for an inspection and then a certificate of occupancy (C.O.) Note to the wise: If it is a commercial project, make sure your contractors are certified and are professionals in their craft.

Respond to rejections: Plan reviewers are your friends and are doing their jobs to ensure the safety of structures and the safety of the people using buildings you are constructing. We have often witnessed various persons meeting with city reviewers or inspectors become testy and instead of moving the process forward with their permit, rejections are pushed back upon and not responded to. Failure to respond to rejections is one of the sure-fire ways to delay obtaining your building permit. The Key: Respond to and respect the plan reviewers and inspectors.

As you are eager to grow your business footprint by expanding to new locations, keep in mind the earlier you get started, the more time and money you save. You can also engage permit expediters like Permit Us Now that have established relationships with jurisdictions across the state and have intimate knowledge with building codes. Permit expediters are a proven and valuable resource.

In conclusion:

Do you have any tips on obtaining building permits fast? I’d love to hear them. Connect with me @PermitUsNow on Facebook and Linkedin. Build safe.

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