Contractors: Don’t Go Starting a Construction Project Until You’ve Read This

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If you lose money on a design or construction project, you can always generate more money from future work.  You see, money can be replenished and there’s lots if it. However, if you lose time working on activities that are not core to your business or you are unfamiliar with certain processes like city building permitting, then you will never be able to make up that time. Time is precious and warrants prudent use to be most effective in starting and completing construction on time.

A couple of weeks ago, a small general contractor saw our Permit Us Now company truck and waved me down to ask me a question about a few homes that he was renovating after being impacted from the Hurricane Harvey floods. He noted that he had knocked out a couple of load bearing walls in a couple of the homes and he wanted to know if that would require a building permit.  I shared with him that with the structural changes he described involving demolishing load bearing walls, he would need a city building permit.  The small contractor then asked me how much the permit would cost and then mumbled that he was so behind on work that he was not sure how to move forward.

Scenarios like this one create loss of time and money and while money can be recouped, the time the small contractor loses to have the project owner have architectural plans developed and then to pull a building permit is significant.

Unless projects are simple – i.e. cosmetic refreshes – typically a building permit is required.

To assist you to be in the best position to obtain a city building permit in a timely manner, below are 5 areas to review before going to pull a building permit.

  • Check plans and related specifications for code compliance – standing in line waiting to speak with a plan reviewer can be nerve wrecking and frustrations rise when you finally are able to speak with the Plan Reviewer and they ask to see a certain call out area on your drawings. Take time to review plans and documents prior to going to the permitting jurisdiction.
  • Have properly and fully completed documentation including all prerequisites
  • Ask questions if have any areas of concern – most city permitting personnel from plan reviewers to Inspectors to Managers are open and available to answer any questions before you submit your application to submit a permit or to cover any compliance concerns.
  • Verify jurisdiction – a few contractors or project owners and even some architects have found themselves starting the permit process for one jurisdiction and later realized that property was in a different jurisdiction. Tip: Check addresses using helpful web sites to eliminate this time-wasting error.
  • Be cognizant of your time – there are proven and valuable resources you can consider using. Evaluate how much you and your staff’s time is worth to fumble around in an unfamiliar area or process.  When you know this number, then you can make a shift and engage experts like permit expediters to lend a hand.

Texas was cited as the number one state in the U.S. for people moving in.  With the continued building and growth expected in Austin, San Antonio, North Texas and Houston, there are solid opportunities to keep contractors busy. And following the tips above to pull building permits in a timely manner will assist in avoiding headaches plus save time.  Build safe.

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