Permits and Approvals in Construction Management

Published on: November 10, 2023

You simply cannot develop real estate without applying for and successfully obtaining a construction permit. While each construction project inevitably comes with its own unique set of permitting processes and issues, the fundamentals of permitting and approval remain consistent in most cases. Therefore, successful construction professionals tend to have reliable permit management systems in place to streamline approval for each project as it arises.

Read on for an overview of permitting in the construction industry and the intricacies of the construction permit process in general. Let’s begin with a brief examination of the time and cost commitment before diving into the permit process steps.

How Long Is the Construction Permit Process?

Every structural building and construction project is different. Therefore, the timeframes and schedules associated with the construction permitting process can differ from project to project in various industries. Factors that influence the length of construction permit processes range from the complexity of the project to the current workload of the permitting agency to the attention to detail shown on the permit application. Local standards also play a huge role in the efforts of any general contractor to secure the proper documentation to begin real estate construction.

Despite the project and regional vagaries of construction permits, ballpark statistics are available on the overall length of the permitting process. According to the nationwide US construction company Barn Pros, you should expect the permitting process, in its entirety, to span from roughly 6 months to a year in total duration. This approximation includes the average time needed to gather the necessary information for construction permitting, submit appropriate permitting documentation, and finally acquire your necessary construction permits.

What Is the Cost of a Construction Permit?

Like the amount of time needed to complete the construction permitting process, the costs associated with permitting can differ dramatically among different construction projects of different types in different geographical locations. Regional regulations and standards can make a considerable difference when it comes to your overall permit costs. In many cases, government officials calculate permit fees based on the projected cost or total value of the construction project as a whole. This means that large projects come with a significantly higher permitting cost than smaller projects do.

Furthermore, different projects may require different types and numbers of construction permits. Building permits, mechanical permits, electrical permits, and plumbing permits are just a handful of permits to consider when you are mounting a substantial construction project.

The Construction Permit Process in 2023

From online filing instructions to digital permit forms, modern technology can make navigating the construction permitting process incredibly fast and easy in 2023. However, it is important to note that every municipality has its own unique permitting infrastructure, and these state-of-the-art conveniences are certainly not available everywhere.

As we have learned, the specific nature of the permitting process can vary in any number of ways from location to location, industry to industry, and project to project. But no matter where you are or what your project goals happen to be, you can generally complete the construction permitting process by following these five steps:

1. Prepare Your Permit Application

An official document issued by a government authority, building permits and other forms of construction permits grant the holders legal permission to undertake various forms of construction including renovations and rebuilds. You should begin preparing for your permit application early by…

Researching Permit Standards and Codes

Permit standards and codes are the various sets of regulations that govern different types of construction projects in specific municipalities. They cover areas that range from basic architectural design to raw building materials to proper installation methods. To ensure that you can obtain permits and operate in full compliance with applicable laws and guidelines, you should begin the permit application preparation process by researching all relevant standards and codes. Because code enforcement is generally quite strict in the construction sector, professionals who fail to vet standards and codes thoroughly do so at their own peril.

Applying for Building and Additional Permits

As we have already noted, you can apply for any number of specialized permits (for example, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical permits) beyond a general building permit. There are also construction industry permits that are specifically designed for demolition projects.

Assessing Compliance Risk for Your Project

A construction project’s level of compliance risk reflects its probability of violating applicable standards and codes. Assessing compliance risk is extremely important because rule volition can lead to serious legal and financial consequences that can shut a project down and even lead to criminal prosecution.

2. Submit Application to Planning Commission

Planning commissions are official local government bodies that manage all real estate development and land use activities within a city, county, municipality, or another specific jurisdiction. A primary responsibility of a planning commission is to review all proposed construction projects within its jurisdiction to ensure compliance with all applicable zoning requirements and other relevant ordinances. Because planning commissions send construction project items to the city council after making their judgments, the public can comment on these judgments and city councils can suggest further amendments to them. As real estate developers move through the planning commission process, they may need to make significant modifications to their project plans before they can ultimately gain approval.

3. Preliminary Review of Project

Upon receiving your application, a planning commission will generally engage in a preliminary conceptual review that involves receiving input from the commission that include any recommendations for final approval. These reviews are placed on the agenda as a planning commission meeting item roughly a week or two before that meeting is scheduled.

Project Scope

We have already discussed the ways in which project scope might affect permitting fees. A full report of the projected scope of your construction project is also a big part of the preliminary review stage of the planning commission application process. To give your planning commission an accurate idea of just how big and disruptive your construction project will be, you should take care to detail your project’s purpose, scheduled timeline, and potential environmental impacts.

4. Schedule Project or Site Inspection

During the middle to late stages of the permit application process, it isn’t uncommon to have any given number of scheduled project and construction site inspections. By thoroughly reviewing project plans and physically inspecting the construction site, planning commission members and other permitting officials can accurately evaluate current and evolving compliance with applicable standards, codes, ordinances, and guidelines. Of course, it is critical that real estate developers are adequately prepared for these official permitting inspections.

5. Obtain Permit and Approvals

After thoroughly assessing your application, completing a thorough review process, including your project as an agenda item at public hearings, and conducting all necessary project and construction site inspections, a planning commission will make a final decision about your requested permits. If you are approved, you will receive your permits promptly. If you aren’t approved, the planning commission will give you a list of conditions that must be met and/or adjustments that must be made for permits to be issued.

After Your Permit Is Approved

With all relevant construction permits in hand, you must begin the construction process in full compliance with those permits and in full accordance with your approved project plans. This may require regular review of your permits and plans as construction progresses. It is also important to notify important project stakeholders and other pertinent parties about your approved permitting as well as display your permits in a highly visible location at the construction site. Displaying your permits in this manner will keep you from running afoul of local regulations while allowing inspectors and other sanctioned authorities to verify project approval with relative ease.

Maintain Permits, Approvals and Renewals

Beyond properly displaying your construction permits, you must ensure that they remain active and current. To effectively accomplish this, wise real estate developers will establish and sustain a comprehensive permit management system that tracks important project data like specific permit numbers, contact details, and expiration dates. Of course, it is essential to monitor all permit expiration dates closely to avoid expensive and potentially catastrophic regulatory outcomes. As long as you allow yourself enough time to file the necessary paperwork, you can often secure renewals for important permits before they expire. You should also anticipate possible permit renewals by researching and preparing all the information and documentation that you will need for the renewal application process.

Explore Construction Management at Park University

Of course, the permitting process is only one, relatively small piece of the overall construction management puzzle. If you have questions about how to receive official construction approval or how to develop a construction permit management system that leads to prompt and efficient approval for every project, you may want to complete an undergraduate degree program in construction management.

At Park University, you can pursue an Associate of Science (AS) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) in construction management either completely online or at various physical campus locations in throughout the Western United States. We also offer the possibility of attaching a construction management minor to any number of Park University undergraduate degrees.

To learn more about our various construction management program options, visit our dedicated construction management program page and follow the links to the specific academic options of your choice. All Park University construction management programs are accredited in full by the ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. If you want to communicate with Park University directly, you can also fill out a short online information request to get more information about anything and everything that our school has to offer!

Park University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Park University is a private, non-profit, institution of higher learning since 1875.