What is a Plan Check and How Does it Affect Permit Expediting?
What is a Plan Check?
A jurisdiction reviews and makes comments on permit applications and building plans through a process called a plan check. Plan checks can occur over-the-counter or through submittals which are processed differently in varying jurisdictions.
A plan check is conducted by a plan reviewer, a third-party consultant or a person employed by the city to review code compliance of proposed designs. Plan reviewers examine permit applications, construction drawings, material samples, and more.
During a plan check, a plan reviewer provides comments on proposed plans to mark changes that must be made for the plans to comply with health and safety regulations. For example, a plan reviewer may make a comment requiring that a material be changed in a building plan because it poses a fire hazard.
Once the initial plan check is completed and comments are sent to the applicant, a re-check is usually required so that a plan reviewer can ensure that all comments have been addressed. When plans are fully compliant and acceptable for construction, the plan reviewer can approve it for fees to be paid and a permit to be issued.
What are Pre-Submittal Reviews?
A pre-submittal review is a meeting between applicants and city representatives that gives the two sides a chance to discuss a project prior to the official application process. During a pre-submittal review, the applicants can ask questions and receive information on requirements, allowing them to have a more comprehensive understanding of what to expect during the application process.
Pre-submittal reviews often take place with complex or high-profile projects. For example, a project involving a ground-up build of a car dealership would be a great scenario for such a review. A project of this scope is more complex in nature due to the large size and strict zoning requirements. In this scenario, the applicants will likely have many questions about zoning, operation restrictions, planning implications, service requirements and much more. The city’s responses to the applicants’ questions will better guide how they design their project.
In addition to helping applicants understand requirements better, pre-submittal reviews can be beneficial to city representatives. Pre-submittal reviews give plan reviewers a heads-up that they will be receiving a large project, so that they are better prepared and understand what to expect.
Over-the-Counter Plan Checks
Over-the-counter plan checks are typically permitted on simpler projects with little to no structural changes planned. For example, a project may include switching out fixtures and doing an interior paint job. A project of this scope would likely be handled over-the-counter. This means that the plan check will be reviewed on the spot by a plan reviewer and will be shorter in duration with comments or RTI being issued at the end.
A walk-in submittal, on the other hand, is usually required for large, complex projects. Review times for submittals typically last several weeks. A project such as a tenant-improvement or ground-up development that’s over 10,000 square feet would require a submittal due to the amount of review-time required to assess every detail.