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Section D-8
Securing of Building Permit Procedure

A building permit is typically required for new construction, additions, and major renovations to pre-existing structures. Failure to obtain a permit can result in significant fines and penalties, and even the removal of unauthorized construction if it cannot be made to meet code. The permitting process is complicated by the complexities of construction technology, guidelines for accessibility, overall safety and welfare of the intended occupants, and ecological concerns. Some of these items are administered locally, and some by other layers of governing agencies.

The schematic design phase should include a determination of the Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) over the project, and a review of their permitting process(es). The Design Professional should review preliminary plans with the proper boards, commissions, and agencies that have jurisdiction over the project. For example, in addition to a building permit, the project may also require review and approval by the local zoning board, the contextual design review board for the community, etc. It is never too early for the Design Professional to establish a dialogue with the AHJ in order to avoid potential issues at the time of permit filing.

The obligation for securing approval of plans and specifications rests wholly upon the Owner or the Architect, whose plans must conform to the requirements of the building codes and the building department. The permitting process should be initiated by the Owner or the Architect, at the time when Contact Documents are completed, or not later than at the time the documents are issued for bidding. This provides the opportunity to resolve any building code issues that may arise during plan review, which often require redesign and modification of the working drawings and specifications. Certain work, such as pre-engineered buildings, requires approval by the specialty contractor.

The Contract Documents should clearly identify who will apply for and obtain permits, as well as whose responsibility it is to pay for them. Whoever files the applications should be someone with a good working knowledge of the permitting process. Typically, the Contractor is responsible for obtaining the building permits. The cost of the permit fee is usually based either on the building area or the project construction cost. It is best to obtain all necessary permits as early as possible, to minimize delays in beginning construction on a project.

The project delivery method, such as early packages for fast track delivery, may require alterations to the permitting process. Some municipalities may issue partial permits such as for grading, foundation, or demolition.

Generally, the new construction must be inspected during construction and after completion to ensure compliance with national, regional, and local building codes. If a municipality, county, or state for which you are applying for a permit has third party inspections, the cost of the inspections should be included in the overall cost of the permit.

TAGS: Fast Track and Specifications.

Glossary Terms for the Best Practices Guide

History of Recommendation:
Revised April, 2010
Revised March, 2010
Revised October, 2009
Reviewed April, 1987
Revised March, 1986

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