New On-Line City Permit Process: Do I Still Need a Permit Expediter?
With the advent of automated services most city jurisdictions are adopting an on-line portal for their plan-check process, and many professionals are scratching their heads and asking, “Do I still need a permit expediter?” While getting the answer to this question from Permit Advisors seems to be biased towards permit expediters we will give you a straight answer.
Depends Where You Are
Smaller municipalities are pretty quick with the permitting process even without new technologies. When you factor in most allow mail-in plan submissions it’s pretty easy to say you most likely won’t be needing a permit expediter.
However, that is not to say you shouldn’t keep them handy. If you have a permit solutions firm handling a national roll-out and it includes these smaller cities it’s better to allow them to continue working their magic. They already understand the plans, codes, nuances, and will get something pushed through just as quickly. And who knows? They may even have a friend to help get the approval even sooner!
Depends on the Type of Project
Although smaller municipalities can be helpful and efficient during the plan-check process remember they work quickly with smaller straight-forward projects. If you have a larger more complex project you will still need a permit expediting solutions firm on your side. We will advocate for your project, represent your interests, and push your project through to approval.
Now, we’ve covered the obvious let’s get to the real core of the question. Can a construction professional walk off the street and expedite their own plans for a permit in a large city? In theory you could. However, the larger cities have nuances that affect: records, programs, and plan-checkers.
Permit Records Search
Take Los Angeles Building and Safety (LADBS), for example, LA permit records can be found through their website, however, unless you have been there before you most likely won’t know where to look.
You can access the above pictured page here: LADBS Records Research
Additionally, not all of the records are searchable through the site, because they haven’t had time to get everything off their Plan Check Inspection System, or PCIS, into the online database. For those documents, you still need to visit a LADBS office, pull a number, and request the documents you are looking for.
The Submittal Process
The actual Los Angeles permit submittal process still will be done in-person, however, before you get to this point you should find information about the different programs the city has that could affect your project. For example, LADBS has an Express Check Plan-Check, or ECPC, program that helps push through smaller commercial projects based on scope and square footage.
From there, you can track progress of your various permits through their online permit status tracker. However, once comments are received you will still need to troubleshoot with your design team how to handle the resubmittal.
Tracking Permit Progress
Let’s move to another good example of a large jurisdiction that has an on-line portal for permits: Houston, Texas. They have an online portal, and it requires you to create a user account and fill out data for the project. The upside is you will be able to track the review as it happens and estimate fees with their calculator. The downside is you will still need to submit correctly the first time, ensure you have the right information on your sets, the correct number of sets, and have someone to push the plans through the process.
You can access the above pictured page here: Houston’s Permit Online
The Main Answer
The main answer here is even with all the new technology and automation, as exciting as it is, cities still ultimately use people to screen the plans and no amount of automation can replace the value of a knowledgeable and friendly professional permit expediter. So, in theory you can go through the process just as you could before the automation boom. However, how do you want to spend your time? Your money? I bet your answers have little to do with permits.
About us: Permit Advisors Inc is a nationwide permit expediting, entitlement, and consulting firm based out of Beverly HIlls, CA. We have established relationships with municipalities nation-wide and implement time as well as cost saving strategies to efficiently complete projects. We provide a project management team to ensure every aspect of the project is given specific attention while maintaining open communication between the jurisdiction, consultants, and our clients. We serve retailers, architects, landlords, tenant coordinators, contractors and franchisees nationwide in the hotel, retail, restaurant, mixed-use, multifamily, entertainment, grocery, and logistical plant development industries. Contact us today for a consultation at www.permitadvisors.com.