When it comes to keeping your projects moving forward, obtaining permits is a big issue. In some parts of the country, local regulations and backlogs are particularly nettlesome. In Southern California, for instance, permit processing is a cottage industry with a number of players offering services to builders.
So how do the pros do it? Jackie Hare of J.L. Hare Associates, a Santa Ana, Calif., firm that specializes in government relations and development processing, passes along her top five tips for expediting permits no matter where you build, particularly for those contemplating entering an area for the first time. Hare has been in business for 14 years, and her clients have included The Irvine Co., Richmond American Homes, Standard Pacific Homes and Rancho Mission Viejo.
1. Pre-Submittal Meetings: An array of problems and surprises can be avoided by meeting with the city or county before developing site plans, construction documents and permit schedules.
2. Concurrent Processing: Weeks can be saved by working with the city and county to accept plans for plan check while the tract map and other entitlements are being processed. It is important to obtain clearances for each condition of approval during this plan-check process.
3. Processing Time Frames: To avoid surprises and delays, research each city and county department to calculate the time necessary for complete plan review and condition-of-approval clearances.
4. Inspection Policy and Procedures: Understand and be aware of the city and county inspection procedure. Request a pre-construction meeting with the building official. At this meeting, the owner, architect and contractor will learn the inspection-request procedure and the ex-pected response time. Also, ask about the policy for plan-revision approvals and inspections.
5. Occupancy Coordination: As the finishing touches are made to the project, pay attention to last-minute agency coordination of final approvals as well as to condition-of-approval clearances needed before a certificate of occupancy is issued.