Whether you’re a seasoned property developer or a homeowner planning a renovation project, building permits can be tricky. Building permits are essential for ensuring the safety and legality of construction projects, and missteps in the process can cause delays and unexpected costs. Let’s take a look at common pitfalls in building permit compliance and how to steer clear of them.

Lack of Research and Preparation

One of the most significant mistakes is jumping into a project without research or adequate preparation. Different municipalities have specific codes, zoning laws, and permit requirements, which can vary widely even within the same state. Before laying the first brick, invest time in understanding these regulations. Consult with your local building department early in the process. You should also consider hiring a professional who specializes in local building codes and permits to ensure your project complies from the start.

Assuming No Permit is Needed

Never assume your project doesn’t require a permit. Even small modifications, like building a fence or installing certain types of plumbing fixtures, might need approval. For example, Denton, Texas, requires permits for door and window replacements. This is part of their adoption of the International Energy Conservation Code, 2021. Many jurisdictions also require permits for tree removal, even on residential property.  Undertaking work without the necessary permits can lead to fines, mandatory alterations, or even demolition of unapproved structures. When in doubt, always check with your local building authority.

Skimping on Details in Your Application

A common pitfall is submitting a permit application with insufficient project details. An incomplete or vague application will lead to delays or denials. Be meticulous in your documentation, providing detailed plans and specifications that clearly outline the scope and nature of your project. This clarity can streamline the review process and help you avoid delays.

Ignoring the Importance of Professional Input

While DIY efforts are admirable, overconfidence in managing complex projects without professional input can lead to compliance issues. Architects, engineers, and contractors familiar with local building codes can be invaluable in ensuring your project meets all necessary standards. Their expertise can help identify potential issues early on, saving time and resources in the long run. This is applicable to new property developments, but also applies when planning significant modifications to an existing property.

Underestimating the Review Process

Permit approval times vary, depending on the complexity of your project and the efficiency of your local building department. Assuming a quick permit turnaround can lead to scheduling conflicts and delays. Plan for the review process to take longer than you expect and keep your project timeline flexible. If your local building department is using Archistar’s eCheck technology, the review process can be more efficient. This is because electronically submitted applications are immediately assessed against specific requirements. If it fails, you have an opportunity to correct your plans accordingly. Allowing the department to focus on other aspects of your application.

Failing to Stay Updated on Code Changes

Building codes and zoning laws change according to local needs and new standards. What was compliant a year ago may not be today. Regularly check for updates to local regulations throughout your project’s planning and execution phases. Staying informed can help you avoid the hassle of having to make costly modifications later.

Neglecting Neighborly Courtesy

Even if your project meets all local requirements, consider its impact on neighbors. How your project might affect them during and after construction can lead to objections that stall your progress. Be proactive in communicating your plans, addressing concerns, and, if necessary, adjusting your plans to maintain good relations. Support from your neighbors can sometimes be as necessary as formal compliance.

Avoiding these pitfalls requires proactivity, thorough preparation, and openness to professional advice. If your local building department hasn’t implemented eCheck by Archistar, encourage them to request a demo. This can demonstrate how the technology improves permit efficiency.