Involvement in the Building Permit Process is Time Well Spent

Chris Sanderson



Much to their own detriment, many owners are unaware and uninvolved in the building department approval process, choosing instead to rely on their architect or contractor to represent their interests. Building codes are interpretive by nature and complicated to navigate. The city’s review process is notoriously unorganized and their departments are reluctant to give concrete timelines to the process. Once the project is submitted, multiple state and local municipalities with competing interests are often reviewing your project in parallel and creating conflicting comments that have to be navigated by your design team. Your consultants each receive their isolated comments and often go to work making changes that they feel will satisfy the reviewing party.

Your architect, engineer, or contractor are not always best positioned for this task and can often find themselves in a precarious position during the building permit process. They have to balance protecting their client with preserving their professional license all while trying to be political with the reviewing agency as they will work together on future projects. They don’t want to push too hard on timeline for fear they will irritate the reviewer and will find it difficult to challenge comments. As the owner of the property you are in a much better position to challenge timeline and subsequent building comments. As owner you are the constituent, the tax payer, and the source of the permit revenue the city depends on.

An educated owner can tactfully take a leveraged position with the municipality to get better clarity on the process, timeline, and a firm understanding of what is required from their design team. Owners who stay involved can also have visibility to mistakes and oversights from their design and construction teams that otherwise get qualified as “unresponsive.” Clearly understanding responsibility between your team and city helps keep both sides on task.

Building a direct relationship with the city has the potential to increase the speed of your project approval, reduce your subconsultant fees, and eliminate the possibility of costly missteps resulting in redesign or numerous review cycles and can be one of the largest returns on time investments you can make in your project lifecycle. As you can imagine, staying involved to this level is often a big ask in terms of your time. If you can’t make that investment, this is a great value add synerBuild can bring. Let us represent you to save you time, navigate tricky decisions, and avoid costly design mistakes.