By Helen Callier, Contributing Writer
From Rockport to Houston to the Beaumont, Port Arthur Triangle, thousands of residential, commercial and government buildings have been affected by Hurricane Harvey and require rebuilding. As a native of Houston, I, along with the Permit Us Now team, want to help our communities get back into operations faster, so we want to share with contractors, architects and project owners what we know to-date on obtaining city building permits.
Here’s the Latest News on Area Permitting Centers
*The emphasis is on helping Houstonians get back on their feet and get their homes and businesses repaired and usable.
The City of Houston and other permitting jurisdictions have made adjustments to internal processes to assist project owners, contractors and architects in obtaining building permits as quickly as possible.
Walk-ins are allowed in the Floodplain Management Office (FMO); just pull a flood damage ticket on the first floor. The FMO may need to do an inspection before issuing a permit depending on where property is located, the nature of the work and the completeness and reasonableness of the cost estimate. Please review with FMO if have any questions and you can check their website to see if property is located in a floodplain.
FEMA has set up Disaster Recovery Centers and Houston Permitting Center staff are handing out basic permitting information at designated tables. Note: Cosmetic work involving painting, flooring, etc. does not require permits.
HPC has extended business hours to close at 7pm instead of 5pm and will add Saturdays if needed. Please check the City of Houston Permitting Center website for more information.
HPC’s intention is to focus first on ‘Repairing Houston,’ with resources available at One Stop to meet demand. Also, the HPC is expecting the go-ahead soon to roll out mobile and regional based One-Stop centers in the hardest hit areas.
We are estimating a possible four-week delay in obtaining building permits and for the workload to return to normal. Please monitor our Facebook page @PermitUsNow and the City of Houston’s website for updates.
To learn more about flood damage repair in the floodplain, visit Public Works website
Harris County and other neighboring counties impacted by the storm have waived permit fees.
Commercial and residential properties must have a permit. If you have an account, when you sign in, go to the drop-down menu and click the Commercial Flood option. Next select submit on this application.
Residential is the same process. For either commercial or residential, a site plan and a floor plan are required. Show the areas that were flooded and need repair. For both residential and commercial, the county must inspect before a permit is issued.
Call 713-274-3880 to self-report if you are a project owner.
Commercial and Residential need to apply for a no-fee due permit. Project scope of work is required and must be non-structural. If there is structural damage or changes, you will need to submit plans.
Must apply for a demo permit and a separate repair permit. All applicable (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing) must apply for a permit. If any structural damage or changes, you will need to submit a full set of plans.
All commercial work will continue with permits and inspections will occur. Cosmetic work involving painting, flooring, etc. does not require permits.
Residential storm damage will require permits and inspections for significant structural repair and replacements. Plans are required as well.
For sheetrock remove and replace, no-fee permits will be issued so the project can be tracked.
No-Fee permits will be issued for travel trailers and RVs on homeowners’ property for 120 days.
In operation and working from a different location since municipal building was destroyed. We are in communications with the permitting staff and will post updates @PermitUsNow on Facebook and Twitter.
CORPUS CHRISTI and PORTLAND
Jurisdictions are open and managing permitting process as quickly as possible. If you have any questions, please refer to their respective websites. We will continue to monitor workloads as we have commercial projects in coastal areas.
Other Points to Note
Over the last few months, we have noticed an increase in requests from commercial project owners who needed building permits after the construction work was completed. Most building projects require a building permit to start construction and a permit is required as proof for a city inspection, as well as to obtain a certificate of occupancy.
There will be a large amount of construction work for a long period of time.
Below are six tips to consider while managing an increased commercial project workload
- Work in a professional manner and refrain from shortcuts
- Review the appropriate jurisdictions building codes and pay special attention to building in floodplains
- Pull city building permits PRIOR to starting construction work
- Communicate with project owners on a regular basis to assure them permit obtained
- Call and ask plan reviewers about any questions
- Consider using a building permit expediting firm to save time and money
We are grateful and give credit to the hundreds of plan reviewers, inspectors, city engineers and Permitting Center managers working at the City of Houston and surrounding areas from Rockport to Corpus Christi, Texas who were helpful in providing information on obtaining permits after Hurricane Harvey. We also appreciate the opportunity to work across the State of Texas assisting organizations that require building permits.
Visit our website www.permitusnow.com