By Helen Callier
March 11th, 2020
Going to Permitting Center sucks time from small contractors’ busy days that are often filled with worries about construction tasks and budgets. Many contractors will call us voicing their frustrations about delays in permitting and the challenge of going back and forth talking with Plan Reviewers that seem not to hear what they are saying. Many will leave wondering what they could have done differently to have obtained final approval and a building permit.
We get it. Small contractors’ primary focus is on budgeting, buying materials, reviewing construction documents, getting quotes from trades and outlining the job schedule with pulling the building permit taking a backseat because of past experiences. And then in a “have to” get a permit moment, small contractors head to the Permitting Center and march in on a mission to succeed in getting final approvals. Instead of having a big smile upon leaving with permit in-hand, we have found that the following are the top 7 mistakes small contractors make while visiting the Permitting Center without the approval of plans.
- Not prepared for meeting with Plan Reviewer – Have not thoroughly reviewed rejection comments prior to meeting or missing documents requested for clarification
- Arriving minutes before Jurisdiction closes – Plan Reviewer and Permitting Staff push hard during working hours and most are mentally tired at the end of the day. Arriving minutes before closing presents a high risk of being able to see Plan Reviewer unless scheduled an appointment and being able to convey your position at the end of the day.
- Have open violations from previous projects – Jurisdictions dictate building codes to make sure structures are building safe for use. When violations are unaddressed, the jurisdiction can and many AHJ’s do withhold issuing a building permit on new work. This is especially the case if violation is at same site.
- Not aware of open permits on prior completed jobs – This is a show-stopper and at some point, the jurisdiction will deny releasing a permit until permits are closed out on prior completed jobs.
- Assumed a defensive posture when speaking with Plan Reviewers and just about any staff approached at jurisdiction – Realize that people and people and Plan Reviewers are there to do a job that is safety focused. Having a defensive attitude quickly turns off another person and can yield the opposite of what you were wanting i.e. approval and a building permit.
- Compared project scope to another project in another jurisdiction – realize that jurisdictions have different zoning laws and work in accordance to different building codes which make comparisons null and void.
- Demeaned Plan Reviewer and asked to speak with Manager
While going into jurisdictions with a tough stance may be your preferred way to pursue final approvals. We have found plus have shared with small contractors that operating with an attitude of respect, preparing for meetings at jurisdiction, checking on any open permits and violations are a few steps they can use to move the needle forward in obtaining a building permit in a timely manner. If you have suggestions on obtaining permits without frustrations and time delays, please let me know. You can reach me on Linkedin or by calling 1.844.PERMIT.4