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Category: Building Department

Broward County Uniform Permit Application

Broward County Unifrom Building Permit ApplicationThe Broward County Uniform Building Permit Application has been in effect for over a year now, and many of our Clients still think that it is the only document they need to submit with their permit package. That is not the case with the Town of Davie, City of Coconut Creek, City of Dania Beach, the City of Sunrise and a few other Cities. These Cities originally had two page Permit Applications. The second page was used for plan reviews or other acknowledgments that may have required the owner’s signatures. Those Cities have created an “Addendum Page” to supplement the Broward County Uniform Permit Application.

I always advise our Clients to go to the City website and download the Permit Application directly from their site. Be sure to look for any document that could be an “Addendum” to the Permit Application. Most of the time is is not a part of the Permit Application pdf file. I do not recommend storing Permit Application documents on your desktop, or printing them for future jobs.  The Cities are always changing procedures and documents, and the file, or document you have saved for future use could be outdated.

Pompano Beach Building Permit Plan Review

Pompano_BeachIn the current times of a very difficult economy, and businesses struggling to survive, you would think that local governments would want to help businesses grow and survive by being business friendly. You would also think that local governments would want to streamline  their process, and regulations, to maximize their revenues and minimize their costs. That does not seem to be the case in Pompano Beach.

Many municipalities are instituting new procedures and process to minimize review time and reduce costs. Not in Pompano Beach! If you click on the picture to the left you will open a link to a pdf file of what Pompano Beach posts on their website as their review schedule. Remember, that as you read the flow chart, days mean business days. Zoning is the first stop and you can see they have 15 days, or three weeks, to review your application. It has been our experience that Zoning takes the full three weeks. Hopefully your application doesn’t have to go to Forestry and Fire. That is another 10 and 5 days respectively. After 6 weeks, if you have no comments from any of the above, you finally get to Building. Then! They have another 30 days. Do the math! That is three months just for the first review.

If you are planning on opening a business in Pompano Beach, beware. If you are a property owner maybe this will help you understand why it is taking your contractor so long to get the permit to do the improvements you hired them to do. Your government’s bureaucracy!

Proof of Ownership

sunbizA policy change that has occurred over the past couple of years that seems to have begun infecting Broward County building departments is the dreaded, “proof of ownership” policy. Miami-Dade County has just about been completely engulfed by this painful cancer, and their are some spot locations showing up in Palm Beach County. If you are not familiar with building permit procedures you are probably wondering what the hell I am talking about.

Almost every municipality has a place for the Owner’s signature on the building permit application.  Back in the day,  you could probably have Micky Mouse sign it, and as long as the signature was notarized, the building department accepted it. Not anymore! Whoever signs the permit application must show “proof of ownership”. Not a big deal for a property owned by an individual. You can go the Property Appraiser’s website, print-out the information, and submit it with the building permit application. If that information isn’t current because of a new buyer, typically, and depending on the building department, a recorded warranty deed, or a settlement statement works.

The real problem occurs with properties owned by corporations. The building permit application has to be signed by one of the officers of the corporation. A great resource is Sunbiz.org. It is the Florida, Division of Corporations website. You can track down corporations and their officers. It can be a real pain in the butt sometimes to find the information you are looking for, because of LLC’s and shell corporations. Once you find the officers, you may also find that they refuse to sign the building permit application. An option is the “power of attorney” letter, if the municipality accepts such a document, and they will have their own procedures for the format of that document.

I always suggest to my Clients, when you get a sales call, go to the Property Appraiser’s website first, and then if a corporation to Sunbiz.org. It is the best way to confirm ownership. The person signing your contract, the Notice of Commencement, and the building permit application needs to be the legal Owner of the property.  Our services include a review of our Client’s building permit packages, to verify the ownership.

There are the “runner” type of permit processers that will try to submit whatever you give them, and bill you for it. We do not! Our initial consultation and document review are included in our fees. Please feel free to contact us for your professional building permit processing needs.

Big Brother is Watching

Big_Brother_is_watching

It is 2010 but we have finally reached 1984.  The Orwellian concepts of loss of personal freedom and state authority seem to have become not just a possibility but a reality. Our lighting speed information age has given everyone instantaneous access to all sorts of data, including personal information. That information is also available to the government.

I was listening to one of the radio talk shows and the discussion was about intrusive government. One of the commentators commented that he had heard of a local government using aerial photos to monitor construction that was performed without permits, by homeowners. The talk show host said that he did not believe it was true. Well, I can tell you first hand that it is true.

Several months ago I walked into one of the smaller building departments in Miami-Dade County. As I was waiting, I noticed that one of the staff was using Google Earth to scan residential properties and was comparing the aerial photos it to the historical permit data. Your are probably saying to yourself that this is just an isolated incident.  Not so! In a meeting I had with an environmental department staffer, not too long ago, I was shown how they track the number of trees on a property by using aerial photos. If a tree is missing and no permit was pulled for removal a hold is placed on that property.

The aerial photo above is from Google Earth of a neighborhood where I once owned a home. You can clearly see pools, fences, sheds, trees, and the foot print of the house. Even the color of the roof tile, which some cities regulate. Big brother is watching!

Permit Fees

bag-of-moneyLike the cost of everything else, permit fees have increased over the years at a steady pace with the inflation rate, but, during the last year, and in the worst recession in decades, the fees charged by municipalities, has in many cases, increased by 100 percent. With local Florida governments looking for additional revenue sources, one of the first places they targeted was permit fees.

It has been a struggle for the construction industry in South Florida in the past couple of years and the increased fees have made it even more difficult for contractors to stay in business. Permit Source Clients tell us that businesses, and property owners, make decisions to hold off doing work, or they try to do it without a permit, just because of the astronomical permit fees. A perfect example of over inflated permit fees, is the City of Weston. A recent job having a total construction cost of $925.00 was assessed a permit fee of $525.00.

To add to the problem, more and more municipalities are requiring all or part of the permit fees be paid up-front. They have increased re-inspection fees and added re-review fees. The first thing the permit clerks say when you walk in the door is “What is your check number?”

The rule of thumb to use, as a rough estimate of permit fees use to be 1.5 percent. That number has increased to 3-5 percent. Cities such as, Key Biscayne and Weston, which have always had extremely high permit fees can be as much as 10 percent. There are a few municipalities that have held their permit fees at pre-recession levels but they are few and far between. Contractors and property owners be warned!