There is an old adage that says” An emergency on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part!” In trying to obtain your building permit try to remember those words of wisdom. It’s really important that you will have a building inspectors Melbourne to check safety of the establishment.
All building departments have a set way of applying for a permit. Some have different forms for different types of projects. A house application may be more complicated say, then a small deck. Many have permits for roofing, plumbing changes or upgrades, fencing and the like. Many jurisdictions do not require permits at all for things like a concrete patio on grade or a simple gazebo. You find out if a permit is required by ASKING! A simple phone call to the building inspectors’ office will get you the answer. If a permit is required, follow these simple steps:
1. Visit the office and obtain a permit application.
2. Complete the application in its entirety. DO NOT leave half of the spaces blank. Inspectors are not mind readers. They will not remember the information from a permit you had 4 years ago. FILL in all the spaces. If the space is not applicable, mark it so or put N/A in the space. That way they know you did not leave out the information by mistake. (One of my favorite sentences from a prospective applicant is: “I spoke to you about a year and half ago, etc. etc.”. I always want to reply, ” Yes, and I’ve been patiently waiting for you” but I don’t.
3. Submit the application in a timely manner. Ask how long the average permit takes to issue and be patient. There are others in front of you waiting for their permits and depending upon the size of the department and the number of applications they receive, it could take 10 days or longer. PLAN AHEAD! DO NOT tell the inspector ” I have to have my permit tomorrow or my contractor says he can’t come back for 2 months”. You may hear “Tell your contractor you’ll see him/her in two months”. DO NOT ask to have your application jumped in front of others. No building department will do that and if they did, the next person who asks, will be jumped in front of YOU!
4. Submit the forms along with any required paperwork such as drawings, site plans, product information or other data that may help the building inspector understand what you want to build. They may ask for more information but if you submit it up front, your permit process will go that much more quickly. If they have to wait for more paperwork; the delay is yours, not theirs. Your 10 days (example) stops when they call, and restarts when you provide the information. If that takes you a week, just add that to the10 day period. Now your permit time is up to 17 days.
5. DO NOT call every day to see if your permit is ready. They will call you when it is done unless they tell you to call on such and such a date. DO NOT be a pest! Building departments do not purposely hold up your permit applications. Depending on the amount of permits being applied for, amount of inspections they have each day, number of walk-ins each day, is what controls the time frame for permit issuance.
6. DO keep a smile. Everyone reacts to the way they are treated so do unto others as the saying goes. During the busy building season in your area, the inspectors may have a larger workload to handle and everyone wants their swimming pool first!
Many permits have set fees and if that is the case, attach your check to your application so when you do go in to pick it up, it takes only a minute. You won’t have to wait for someone to receipt your money.
FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS-Read your permit paperwork once you receive it. In two of my jurisdictions both a plywood sign with the permit number painted in 8″ numbers is required at the end of the driveway and the permit card is required to be posted at the site on a plywood backer in a plastic bag. Many inspections are delayed or missed because the inspector could not find the house due to the plywood permit sign not being placed properly. When you call the office for an inspection, LISTEN to the instructions. Departments have different times required that you have to wait for any inspection. Many are 2-4 days but I know of a few that are 7 days. Ask if an inspection slip will be left in the plastic bag so you know the result of the inspection. Keep the slips for your records.
VERY IMPORTANT!!!! It is YOUR responsibility to make sure you have all the inspections required. Saying you thought he/she did the inspection will not work when you are asking for a final inspection or Certificate of Occupancy. Many departments have more than one inspector so the second inspector may not know if you had the previous required inspection done. The building department will give you a list of inspections required. Make sure you get ALL of them.
ACCESSIBILITY TO SITE: I can not tell you how many times someone calls for an inspection then chains the gates shut or cables the driveway. The house is a half mile
off the road, the drive is not plowed (in the North), and they can’t figure out why they didn’t get the inspection. If you call for an inspection, MAKE SURE THE INSPECTOR CAN GET TO IT! Many jurisdictions will make only two attempts and then mark it inaccessible. BE READY!
The quickest and surest way to get off on the wrong foot is to call for inspections that are not ready. ALL jurisdictions require the work to be ready WHEN YOU CALL. They may have a set waiting time you must wait, but many times the inspector is right next door and comes much sooner than you think. BE READY! Just because your contractor says the footing forms will be ready Friday does not mean they ARE ready. Check before you call. Unavoidable delays such as weather, unshipped materials or sickness can hold up the work. Don’t make the inspector make a useless trip only to find the forms were not installed. One jurisdiction I know of allows only two times for this type of behavior to occur and then the applicant must wait a mandatory five additional days to get an inspection. THAT really slows down the work but it sure does give you time to get READY! If after waiting the usual time for an inspection and you don’t see an inspection slip, call the office and find out why. Don’t just move on. It will only cause you grief in the end.
Lastly, if you are building a home or other complicated structure, keep the drawings on site for the inspector to reference if he/she has a question. They do not carry around every set of drawings with them. If an inspector has a question and drawings are not present, they must return to the office, pull the drawings and this will only delay your inspection. Inspectors may do 10 or12 inspections a day and read another 6 or 7 sets of blueprints for permits. They will not remember your details.
With all this in mind, start in plenty of time, have all your paperwork ready and the process will go quickly. Many building inspectors are builders themselves and are a wealth of free knowledge you may draw upon when needed. Although most cannot legally tell you HOW to construct something (they are not licensed architects or engineers in most cases) they can lead you to where the information can be found very easily.
Pete Your Friendly Building Inspector
BICES-Building Inspection & Code Enforcement System Software
Pete is a 30+ year building inspector with experience in both public and private construction industries. From schools to treatment plants, from private homes and condo projects, to large residential landscaping projects, he has worked both in the building design areas and field construction in the Eastern US. In 2006 he formed along with two other building inspectors, Wagsys LLC which produced software for municipal agencies in the fields of building departments, planning boards and Zoning Boards of Appeals.