With zoning ordinances, building restrictions, and permitting processes varying between towns, counties, and states, compliance requirements are complex and time-consuming. Small mistakes in your application will cause delays, while larger mistakes require costly corrections. And no building project can get started without the necessary permits in place. This guide looks at some of the compliance challenges you may face, along with practical strategies to help you steer your project towards a smooth permitting process.

Understanding the Regulatory Landscape

The biggest hurdle you need to clear has to do with local regulations. It’s not enough to understand they are influenced by your project’s scope and location. You must know what each particular requirement is and ensure your project meets them. These include:

  • Zoning Ordinances: Local zoning regulations dictate what can and cannot be built in specific areas. These ordinances cover aspects such as building use (residential vs. commercial), height restrictions, setback requirements, and lot coverage limitations.
  • Building Codes: Codes set the minimum standards for construction safety, including structural, electrical, plumbing, and fire safety requirements. Meeting these standards is essential to ensure the well-being of future occupants. Your project will need to meet both local and international building codes.
  • Environmental Regulations: Projects often require environmental permits or assessments, aiming to protect natural resources like wetlands, endangered species habitats, or air and water quality.

Compliance Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Even with careful planning, property developers often stumble into one of these pitfalls when it comes to compliance:

  • Incomplete or Inaccurate Applications: Rushing through the application process or misinterpreting the requirements leads to rejected applications. To prevent this, double-check all information for accuracy, and thoroughly review the application checklist provided by your local jurisdiction.
  • Outdated Information: Regulations and codes change over time. Working with outdated information is a surefire way to derail your application process. Make sure you research the updated rules that apply to your project.
  • Lack of Communication: Maintaining open communication with the regulatory agencies involved is essential. Ask for clarification on any point that seems unclear and inquire about the progress of your application regularly.

Strategies for Navigating Compliance

Don’t overlook simple strategies that will boost your chances of securing the needed permits without any delays:

  • Pre-Application Consultation: Most planning or building departments offer pre-application consultations. Take advantage of this service to get early feedback, address potential issues, and build rapport with the officials who will review your application.
  • Hire Experienced Professionals: Enlisting the expertise of local professionals like architects, engineers, or permit consultants who are well-versed in the area’s regulations will streamline the permit application process and increase your odds of success.
  • Develop Strong Community Relations: Particularly for larger projects, having positive relationships with the surrounding community can pay dividends. Address community concerns early on, as objections during the public hearing phase can lead to significant delays.

Technology as a Compliance Tool

As should be expected, technology also has a role to play when it comes to compliance and permit applications. So, look at what your local permitting office supports and make full use of it.

With a solid grasp of local regulations, careful planning, and strategic use of resources, you can significantly reduce compliance headaches. If your local planning and building department isn’t using eCheck, they can request a demo. This will give them an opportunity to see first-hand how the system can streamline the process for them and for developers.