A QUICK STORY
It was a cold January morning. The plans Mary held in her arms were finally completed and ready for submission to the City of Indianapolis Building Department. She was excited and had anticipated this moment when the holidays were over, and the plans would be ready for submission. She had her application ready, the check for the fee amount that she called about back in December, and was confident and ready to get this project submitted and checked off her to do list.
“Good morning!” said Mary, “I am here to submit plans for a commercial remodel. Here’s my application and the check for the plan review fee. How long is the review process running right now?”
“Where’s your CDR approval from the State? Our fees just increased at the beginning of the year so your check is probably wrong, and I don’t see a notarized signature on the permit application,” the permit tech said hastily.
“Woah, CDR from the State, huh? and your fees what? and a notarized signature, uh? I called in December to obtain all of this information and no one ever told me any of these things!” Mary said getting a little annoyed at this point.
Mary’s excitement has turned into frustration, and now she wishes that she would have just made a quick phone call to verify all of the information that she gathered in December before the holidays was still accurate.
“Also,” said the permit tech, “you didn’t have to print out plans. We have an electronic submittal option that actually helps the process go a little bit quicker.” “Of course, you do”. Mary said to herself in her head. “Thanks, anything else I should know?” Mary said to the permit tech. “Yes, here is an ePlans submittal guide for our online submittal process and a guide for the State to get your CDR since that can be done online too. This is all available on our website as well,” said the permit tech.
Unfortunately this is another common pitfall that happens all the time. The up-front information is gathered and the homework is done, but then a little bit of time goes by, and some owners just assume that the initial information that has been gathered hasn’t changed. Maybe specific questions haven’t been asked because a checklist wasn’t used, and the list goes on and on. We have learned through the years that a quick call to the jurisdiction to verify the information we initially gathered is very beneficial.
The best time to start preparing for the permit submittal(s) is when the construction drawings (CD’s) are in production is the best time to start preparing for the permit submittal(s). Being prepared is key in making sure that the process goes as smoothly as possible because, in the end, that’s what we all want, right? A smoother process is definitely achievable, and we want to provide guidance on how to make it possible.
But again, where do we start?
First of all, as we previously mentioned, to avoid a common pitfall of just assuming that nothing has changed since performing the up-front research exercise, giving the agencies a quick call to verify pertinent information is wise. Fees could have changed, and an influx of permit submittals could have been submitted to the agencies, so permit review time frames could have fluctuated, and the schedule could be impacted. Just as a general rule of thumb, we have found that fee schedules can change at the beginning of the year (and sometimes in July or October). Another stumbling block could happen: The person that originally provided all of that valuable information at the beginning of the process is no longer there, and another person answers the phone and gives some contradictory information. Wait…What? Good thing that call was made to verify the information since that could have caused quite the delay if the agency did not accept the permit submittal package. Mary probably should have done that too, right?
ORGANIZATION & COMMUNICATION
Next up, getting organized, gathering all pertinent information. If you prepared an Investigation Report, which is where all of this pertinent info should (or could) be located, and preparing an email to communicate the process to the entire team (so that everyone is on the same page) has proven very valuable to all projects and programs over our years working in the industry.
Some of the items that are helpful to include in the email for communication with the team are as follows: number of sets of plans (or if electronically submitted how the plans are required, i.e. individual sheets, PDF’s by discipline, named a specific way, electronically signed and sealed, wet seals, etc.); fees due at the time of submittal (check, e-check, credit cards and which ones); any property owner signatures needed on applications or if a Letter of Authorization (LOA) can be provided to name an agent; if a contractor needs to be named at the initial submittal; and time frame for reviews to verify the schedule does not require modification.
TECHNICAL INFORMATION AND COORDINATION
If there is technical information on the application that is needed from the Architect or Engineer, it is helpful to coordinate that early on before the plans are ready to be submitted for permit. Just a heads up- If the project is a restaurant and requires health review and approval, Health Department applications are typically lengthy and require input from several different parties involved (from the Architect to sometimes even the owner for operational items requested on the application). Also, what about cut sheets and a menu? The Health Department often wants to see these as well so be sure these are handy and ready with the submittal package.
SIGNATURES & FEES
Finally, if it has been determined that a property owner signature is needed as well as a check for plan review fees (some fees can be in excess of thousands of dollars), it is imperative to coordinate these items so that these items will not hold up the submittal once the CDs are completed, signed and sealed, and ready for submittal. If multiple submittals to multiple agencies are required for the project, be sure to get ALL property owner-signed applications and checks for upfront fees at the same time as that will save time and frustration in the long run.
For additional information on Interplan’s experience with Preparation for Permit Submittals, please contact us at 407.645.5008 or via email at [email protected]