11 Tips to Help you Navigate the Permit Process

11 Tips to Help you Navigate the Permit Process

One of the most tedious tasks performed by a construction company is Permitting.  Whether you are working with a small municipality or a large city, it seems they all have a thousand different rules to navigate.  And the minute you learn the process, they seem to change or come up with a new requirement.  Here are 11 tips to make the permitting process smoother:

    1. Know Your Project – Take a little time to review the drawings.  What are you building?  How many square feet is it?  Is it new construction, a renovation or just an alteration?  Is there any special equipment or processes (ex:  emergency generators)?  The more you are familiar with the project, the better you can field questions or prepare for the types of forms you will need to bring with you.

    3. Know Your Building Department – If you have never been to this building department, take time to review their website.  What are their hours?  Are forms available for download online?  Where are they located?  Review their FAQ page.  How many sets of plans are required?  Don’t assume anything!

    5. Get Your Forms Ready – You should have any forms you know are needed & have them prepared before you go to the building department.  Typically you will at very least need a Master Building Permit Application, but if you have any Sub Permit Applications prepare those as well.  Complete all information, do not go to the building department without it.

    7. Review Signatures – Who needs to sign these forms?  Typically Master Building Permit Applications need to be signed by the Qualifier of the Construction Company & the Owner of Project, and all signatures usually require a notary endorsement.

    9. Take Two – I often find it helpful to have two or more applications.  Sometimes you will encounter issues where multiple copies are needed or other types of permits are required.  Nonetheless having two or more, does not hurt you & can save a return trip to the building department.

    11. Show Me the Money – Some building departments require a upfront fee or a deposit when submitting for a permit.  So as a rule, I always bring a form a payment with me.  Normally I bring a company check, but many building departments also except credit card.

    13. Carry On – Specifically on larger projects, your sets of plans can be quite large.  So I always make sure to bring a cart to carry my plans in.  Plus you never know how far you have to park or walk with the plans.  Your back will thank you!

    15. Entertain Yourself – When you visit a building department, chances are you will have to wait to be called on.  Make sure to bring reading materials and a cell phone charger, to keep you from getting antsy or impatient.

    17. Smile – Having a smile when you are dealing with anyone sets the tone.  Smile, say good morning/afternoon & let the building representative know you appreciate them giving you good service.

    19. Be Honest – If a clerk or reviewer tells you something that you do not fully understand, don’t wing it!  Politely ask them to clarify the steps, so that you can get it right.  In fact, I usually ask “Is this everything I need to get our permit?”.  You would be surprised how often asking this, helps expedite the process.

    21. Follow-Up – Once you drop off your plans successfully, don’t forget about them!  Make sure you follow-up with the building department’s plan tracker on their website  (if available) or call them.


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