The elusive Building Permit. It can be a thorn in the side of GCs, clients and landlords when getting a project up and running. Each Building Department mandates their requirements for commercial and residential building permits. In installment 1 in our series you’ll get a head start on understanding the process with these simple 5 facts.


  1. The Application-the first step in the permitting process is accessing and completing the necessary application. Most applications outline the required documents you or your GC will need to provide to the Building Department. In some cases, these days, online application and electronic uploads of the required docs are allowed, but keep in mind each town or city is different. You or your GC may be required to submit the physical forms and docs directly to the Building Department.


  1. The Requirements-Like we mentioned in Fact #1, every city or town might ask for different pieces of information and documentation to accompany the building permit application. In most cases the Building Department is looking for the following; the application, at least one (if not multiple) sets of construction documents, i.e. plans and usually these plans should contain a professional stamp from the architect and engineers who drew them, and payment of the fee.


  1. The Fee- Any cost associated with the permit is calculated based on various formula criteria set by the city or town on the application. For example, a permit fee for a commercial fit-up project valued at $100,000.00 in Beverly, MA would cost $1,500.00 using the formula of $15.00/$1,000.00. In most cases, the fee is to be paid upon pick up or delivery of the permit. Although, some cities or towns may require payment during the initial submission of the application. The formula used to calculate the fee can be found on the application form. The form of payment for the fee is decided by the Building Department.


  1. The Timeline- After all pieces of the required documents are submitted to the Building Department, the City or Town will begin the review process. The time-frame for review varies greatly by municipality, backlog, departments, ect. A typical timeline for completing a review and preparing the permit is 30 days upon receipt of documents and application. Each Building Department can provide some information on the review timeline when the application is submitted. Several factors can delay the review process and extend the timeline. For instance, if you are unaware that certain fire protection drawings are required for review during initial submission, obtaining those drawings and providing them to the Building Department would delay your review.


  1. What’s Next- After you hear from the Building Department that your permit has been reviewed and is ready to go, what happens next? That depends on the type of permit you’ve applied for, but in most cases after the permit is picked up and paid for work on the project can begin! The physical permit is your green light to kick off the construction phase of the project. The GC will need to have it readily available and posted at the job site during construction.

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