By Helen Callier
December 6th, 2021
The number of building permits pulled in 2021 in most areas of the United States were trending higher than permits pulled in 2020. Single-Family residential showed increases in permitting activities in 2021 along with commercial and warehouses.
So, what does this mean for permitting in 2022?
The above insight is something to be aware of, but here’s what I do know for sure, regardless, if the construction market is hot, warm, or cold or if the Architect’s pencils are flat, Contractors still require a building permit in a timely manner. Why? Because the faster a permit can be pulled, the faster construction can start and get finished. Once a project is fully inspected and a Certificate of Occupancy, depending on project type, is obtained then the doors of a business can open. And it is only at the point when the doors are open that the Project Owner can serve customers and begin to obtain a return on investment (ROI).
With that being said, let’s look at two critical trends for Contractors to consider when preparing for 2022.
STAFFING LEVELS: Will be stressed in many permitting centers across the U.S. and jurisdictions will continue to have challenges finding qualified technical staff.
Jurisdictions like the Houston Permitting Center reported in October 2021 that they are recruiting for Plan Reviewers in many departments plus as a short-term solution they have rearranged some staff internally including at the management level and are expected to engage 3rd party Plan Reviewers to assist with the workload. The challenge the PermitUsNow team foresees is the length of time and impact of new Plan Reviewers coming up-to-speed and handling workloads. Also, new Plan Reviewers sometimes generate more comments which can cause delays. Suggestion: Make sure to know who is reviewing your plans and reach out to the Reviewer to answer any questions and provide clarifications.
Hot construction markets like in Austin, Texas will add more workload to Austin Permitting and Development staff. Contractors can expect similar plan review times and are to be observant of possible added pressure to permitting workload due to large corporations moving into the area resulting in increased population.
When swinging out to the West Coast, the City of San Francisco is expected to continue having long delays in reviewing plans and approving permits. Suggestion: Plan work accordingly and whenever you can do so, start early with your permitting so can minimize the late start of construction.
TECHNOLOGY: Expected to continue to play a strong role and can expect some system hiccups here and there as jurisdictions either come online with e-portals or are making improvements to their electronic system.
Note that some small jurisdictions still require hard copies for plan reviews. Suggestion: Review your pursuits and workload in your pipeline to identify the jurisdiction. Conduct research to figure out which electronic platform is being used or if the jurisdiction accepts hard copies only. Also, sign up for jurisdiction newsletters to stay abreast of changes to e-portals.
There are huge opportunities to grow your construction business in 2022, especially when you pull permits in a timely manner. Have a plan to tackle the staffing level challenges and make sure your team stays sharp on electronic submissions as this continues to evolve. And remember to #BuildSafe in 2022 and call the PermitUsNow team at 1.844.PERMIT.4 if need assistance with permits.