Best Practices

There are different lenses through which to consider the landscape of Permit Streamlining.  One starts with outwardly expanding circles of influence and operation from the building department:

  • Administrative: this is the inner circle, starting with the existing processes, resources and staff.  How can these existing elements become more efficient?  Examples: target and result timelines; submittal triage; rolling review.
  • Roadmapping.  The next circle includes the various departments beyond the building department such as fire, utilities, public works; and a series of steps that can expand out even further, when fees are collected for school districts, parks department, sanitation district etc.  There can be significant streamlining opportunities in this landscape, as it is easy for there to be time lost and communication gaps every time there is a hand off to another stakeholder.
  • Partnering  Stakeholders in the permit process extend the circle beyond the jurisdiction itself. Partners in the process can include contract plan review services; as well as those people who prepare the plans and use them including Architects, Engineers and Contractors.  AIA Components can be partners to the jurisdictions in their area, helping identify, vet, and implement effective strategies.

Viewed through a different lens are some of the emerging approaches to streamlining that can move things forward in quantum leaps

  • Technology  Web tracking of plan submittal, Electronic Plan Submittal and document processing; Digital seals and signature; wireless inspection connectivity, and more are being rolled out across the country.  Most of these involve major investment; and Architects can help insure that the payoff in benefits matches the money on hardware, vendors and consultants.
  • Prequalification  It is not unusual in many jurisdictions to have the permit review process be exactly the same whether plans are prepared by experienced and licensed professionals or amateurs.  Prequalification is that realm of streamlining where there is a different track depending on the quality of the documents and/or the experience, qualification and/or legal responsibiity of the person who has prepared them.  This is fertile ground for action by AIA components.
  • Professional Certification  Licensed professionals who prepare, seal and sign the documents for a project bear legal, professional and ethical responsiblity for the contents; and those responsibilities are irrespective of the review the documents may or may not be subject to during permitting.  Professional Certification is the realm which distinguishes these responsibilities and short circuits some or all of the typical linear permit review process when a licensed professional has certified the completeness and accuracy of the documents. The Professional that provides the certification could be the same person who prepared the plans; or in other cases might be a peer reviewer.

Cities that have been mentioned as being examples of Best Practices include:


Charlotte / Mecklenberg County North Carolina

Houston Texas

Clark County Nevada

Phoenix Arizona

San Jose CA

Denver CO

West Palm Beach FL

Fairfax County VA


web analytics

One thought on “Best Practices

  1. mfmalinowski Post author

    Locations with Best Practice Processes: what do they have in common?
    One is a political interest in permit efficiency and effectiveness
    Another is a solid working relationship between Public and Private Sector, often assisted with a standing commission chartered to monitor the processes and provide a feedback loop.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *