If you’re a property developer, you understand that turning a project blueprint into reality involves a thorough understanding of regulations. Two critical parts of this process are planning permissions and building permits. While often confused, these authorizations have distinct purposes, and understanding their differences is essential for ensuring your development is feasible, safe, and complies with local standards. Let’s look at how these permits differ and the way they intersect.

What is Planning Permission?

Planning permission, or zoning permit, is a formal approval requested from local municipalities to allow for the development or use of a piece of land for a particular purpose. This process involves close examination of the project and considers the land’s zoning and the proposed design. It also considers the development of the community, and the impact the proposed structure could have on the surrounding area and infrastructure. The goal is to maintain an organized and functional environment that supports the community’s long-term plans.

For planning permission to be granted, your project must comply with local development plans and contribute positively to the neighborhood. It’s about suitability and the fit of the development within a community.

What is a Building Permit?

A building permit, on the other hand, focuses more closely on the technical details of the construction project. A building permit allows you to begin construction. The technical details set out in the application must adhere to international and local building codes and standards. To ensure these are still adhered to throughout construction, inspections by the local planning or building department are routine. This is done to ensure that the structure is safe.

With a building permit, the focus is on the how rather than the if. It covers the architectural integrity, electrical safety, plumbing, mechanical systems, and fire protection, among other things. It ensures all building phase activities won’t pose a danger to future users or destabilize existing infrastructures.

The Overlap and Sequence

While planning permissions and building permits are distinct, there’s a clear intersection between the two. Both are about ensuring that developments serve the interest of the public and the environment while meeting specific standards. Their relationship is sequential: you can’t obtain a building permit without first having planning permission.

First, planning permission gives the nod to your project in a conceptual sense. It says, “Yes, you can build here, and yes, your project seems to fit within our vision for the area.”

Once you have this approval, you move onto the phase of complying with building codes and safety measures, which is where the building permit comes in. It’s the regulatory approval ensuring your construction plans meet technical standards.

It’s important to note that obtaining planning permission does not guarantee that a building permit will follow. Each has its own set of criteria and standards. As a property developer, you are responsible for ensuring your project complies with both sets of regulations before and during construction.

Managing the Process

Working through zoning laws and construction regulations can be challenging, but careful planning and diligence can ease the process. Consider the following steps:

  • Research: Understand the local zoning laws and building codes to ensure your project is feasible from both a planning and construction standpoint.
  • Consult: Engage with architects, engineers, and possibly legal counsel familiar with local regulations to guide your application process.
  • Communicate: Stay in contact with local authorities at each developmental stage. Keeping lines of communication open can prevent misunderstandings or delays.
  • Document: Ensure all your documentation is in order, complete, and submitted in accordance with local requirements.

Both planning permissions and building permits are integral to sustainable development and are put in place not just as safeguards but as facilitators of quality and safety in construction.

Archistar’s eCheck system – already used by local governments worldwide – helps fast-track planning and building permit assessments. You submit your application electronically and it is immediately assessed digitally to determine if it meets the minimum requirements. If the result is a fail, it allows you to make adjustments before resubmitting. Once successfully submitted, the final, more extensive evaluation begins. Speak to your local planning department about requesting a demo of eCheck so they can see how it can help them, the city, and local developers.