Building any property involves understanding and adhering to a complex set of regulations and requirements that vary not only across state lines but also between counties and municipalities. Smooth, hassle-free building permit approvals depend on you complying with local laws and regulations. And the best way to achieve this is through a proactive approach that prioritizes compliance right from the start.

An Overview of Building Compliance

Building compliance has multiple layers, with local, state, and national regulations at its core. More than just red tape, these regulations help local governments manage land use, property types, and safety, ensuring all new developments are safe, functional, and meet community needs.

Local Laws and Regulations

These are the ground rules set by your city or county. They control land use, building height restrictions, setbacks from property lines, and the types of materials that can be used.

Lot Approvals, Zoning, Ordinances, and Covenants

Zoning dictates how land can be used (residential, commercial, etc.). Ordinances are the local laws mentioned previously. Covenants are separate rules tied to specific neighborhoods or developments, especially planned communities. These factors influence what you can build and how.

Building Codes

These codes set standards for safety, structural integrity, accessibility, and sustainability. They cover everything from structural integrity, through to fire safety measures, electrical wiring, and plumbing.

Permits and Plans

Permits are official permissions to start construction, usually granted after detailed plans demonstrating compliance are submitted and approved.

Why Building Compliance Matters

Compliance isn’t just about avoiding fines—it’s fundamental to the success of your project:

  • Safety First: Building codes are designed to protect occupants and the public. A compliant building is safer.
  • Streamlined Approvals: When your project aligns with all regulations, the approval process tends to be much smoother and quicker.
  • Resale Value: A well-built, compliant property is more attractive to potential buyers. It instills confidence and avoids legal issues later.

Roles and Responsibilities in Building Compliance

As cliche as it sounds, building compliance is a team effort. As a developer, you are the one submitting applications for planning and building permits. But compliance depends on the efforts of several professions throughout the project.


Architects design buildings that meet aesthetic and functional requirements while adhering to all relevant regulations. They ensure that the design complies with zoning laws, building codes, and other legal requirements.

Structural Engineers

Structural engineers focus on the integrity and stability of the building. They ensure that the design can withstand environmental stresses and meet all safety standards.

Building Surveyors

Building surveyors (or inspectors) review plans and conduct site inspections to ensure that construction meets regulatory standards. They play a critical role in the approval process by verifying compliance at various stages of construction.

Local Authorities and Certifiers

The local authorities are the ones issuing permits and conducting regular inspections to ensure that construction complies with local laws and regulations. Certifiers are professionals who can issue compliance certificates, validating that the project meets all necessary standards.

Contractors and Builders

Contractors and builders are responsible for executing the construction according to the approved plans and specifications. They must ensure that their work adheres to all building codes and regulations.

Going from Planning to Approval

For a hassle-free building approval process, follow a systematic approach that emphasizes compliance at every step.

  • Due Diligence: Before buying land or starting the design process, research all applicable regulations and restrictions thoroughly.
  • Engage Professionals: Assemble a team of qualified architects, engineers, and surveyors. Their expertise is invaluable in understanding and adhering to complex regulations.
  • Detailed Plans: Create comprehensive plans that address all aspects of building compliance, including safety, accessibility, and sustainability.
  • Digital Compliance: Some local governments have started to implement digital compliance platforms, such as eCheck by Archistar. Though these don’t automate the approval process, they do check applications for compliance before submission. This allows developers to correct any issues early in the process, which can speed up approvals.
  • Early Consultation: Engage with local authorities early in the process. This can help identify potential issues and streamline the approval process.
  • Transparency: Be transparent with all stakeholders throughout the process. This builds trust and helps address any concerns.
  • Adaptability: Be prepared for potential modifications or adjustments to plans as the project progresses. Flexibility is key in the approval process.

Think of building compliance as a partner, rather than an obstacle. Doing so ensures a smoother approval process, contributes to the safety and satisfaction of future occupants, and guarantees the integrity of your project and reputation. Speak to your local building department about Archistar’s eCheck platform. They can request a demo to learn more about the platform and see how it could benefit them and the community.