Record Research and Why It Matters

From simple interior tenant improvements to major remodels and ground-up projects, extensive records research ensures a more expedient entitlement and permit application process. Records research involves investigating all previous construction history regarding a project’s location, such as property records held by county, state, and local governments. Upon completing this process, an applicant can approach city representatives with more site-specific context and prevent unforeseen issues and delays later. At Permit Advisors, records research is an integral part of the due diligence stage in our permit expediting process which often includes research into: certificates of occupancy, surveys, planning documents, previously approved permits, and sometimes historic resource documentation.

Certificate of Occupancy

A Certificate of Occupancy, often called a C of O, is a document that confirms the occupancy group of the property. This document provides information on the following…

• Approved use (i.e. retail)
• Occupancy load (i.e. 200 max occupants)
• Parking requirements (i.e. 25 parking stalls)
• Approved building square footage (i.e. 20,000 Sqft)
• Property owner
• And more depending on the municipality


Depending on the project we may need to locate previous surveys conducted on the project if they are available. These surveys typically include the following information…

• Boundary data
• Setback lines
• Easements
• Lot dimensions
• And more

Planning Documents

There will likely be city planning cases pertaining to the project that will need to be reviewed and evaluated. These documents may include…

Planning commission and city council resolutions (letters of determination)
• Conditions of approval tied to the land
• Staff reports
• Design review guidelines
• Master sign programs
• And more

Previously Approved Permits

It’s typically beneficial to research all permits previously approved for the property. These documents pertain to the following…

Building permits
• Mechanical permits
• Electrical permits
• Plumbing permits
• And more

Historic Identification

Many older buildings are designated as historic by the state or local authority due to historic significance or value. When researching historic identification, it’s important to identify the following…

• Limitations to scope of work allowed
• Existing/historical conditions that the project must abide by
• Limitations to possible uses

The research process is an incredibly effective and underutilized tool to confirm project feasibility, identify new development opportunities, and prevent unforeseen issues and delays later. With a strong network and experience interpreting public documents, Permit Advisors provides detailed records research on major commercial projects so that we can approach the permit process more effectively. Our Project Managers’ expertise and backgrounds in planning/architecture provide knowledge to interpret construction history and identify the most effective path to approach the permit process.

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