Starting an AIA Permit PreQualification Class

PreQualification is tailoring the permit process to the applicant.

Applicants who are prequalfied because of training and/or experienced who prepare document and design packages that are better organized, more complete, and include information which facilitates quick understanding and review, have access to a plan check process from those applicants who are not pre-qualified.

PreQualification can be based on license status; experience, or training.  There is tremendous potential in the area of PreQualification as this means of streamlining has not been well used or considered.

One method of creating a PreQualification based program:

An AIA Component works with local regional juridictions to develop a series of classes that cover preparation of documents in accordance with a well developed standard.  For example, see this standard developed in Florida due to an effort that included AIA support and engagement:

PreQualification Classes are a win – win:

  • Improved economic conditions in the community resulting from more efficient and effective permit processes.
  • A competitive advantage for those architects willing to invest the time and money in training
  • A source of non-dues revenue to the component;
  • A Member benefit who have access to the training for a greatly reduced cost


2 thoughts on “Starting an AIA Permit PreQualification Class

  1. Mike Robinson

    What about Permit Expeditors? Where do you see them fitting into this process? Many smaller architectural firms cannot give the resources to train new staff members in the permit process. If they do they often lose the junior members to other firms soon after. Permit Expediters can help fill that resource gap.

  2. mfmalinowski Post author

    Outline of a PreQualification Program

    • A working group (with members from both design and regulatory professionals) is created to vet and adopt a set of document content and organization standards for an initial project type (such as small commercial building alteration; or tenant improvements).
    • The working group enlists AIA Austin to put a training program together to cover the use of the standards. This program could become a non-dues revenue source for the component.
    • Participants are trained and tested; those passing the program would be added to a list of ‘pre-qualified professionals’.
    • Plans prepared by ‘pre-qualified professionals’ according to the adopted standards (perhaps indicated by a symbol added to the cover sheet) would save time and money for the jurisdiction; the jurisdiction would in turn create a separate ‘track’ for plan review of these packages. The participating design professional realizes a significant time savings in the permit process.
    • There would be quality control feedback loop for both program refinement and development, and also to insure that ‘pre qualified professionals’ continue to adhere to program standards (or face loss of eligibility).

    If the beta program proved successful, it could be expanded to additional project types.

    Properly implemented, there is the potential for such a program to be a win-win, with efficiency and effectiveness benefits for ‘both sides of the counter’.

    With plans prepared in a consistent format to make them more clear and easy to review for the permit processing professionals, the resulting increased efficiency could result in time savings for participating professionals.

    A program along these lines is being developed in the Sacramento Region as a cooperative effort involving six different jurisdictions; and it is being evaluated by AIA Austin following a presentation and workshop there by MFMalinowski AIA in November of 2014


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