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Category: Building Permit Processing

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Cities are always changing procedures and documents, and the file, or document you have saved for future use could be outdated.

Top Ten Building Permit Application Tips

Building_Permitting_Miami-Dade_Broward_Palm BeachAs a part of our permit processing services we review all documents that are submitted in the permit packages created by us, or by our Clients, and we are constantly complemented by the building departments on the completeness and accuracy of our building permit packages.

I have put together the top ten permitting tips for the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties which I think will be beneficial to the seasoned contractor, as well as homeowners and start-up construction contractors.

#1. Which Building Department? – The first step is the verify which building department has jurisdiction over the job site address. The postal address may not be the same as the municipality that has jurisdiction over issuing Building Permits. This especially true in Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County where there are large unincorporated areas that are under the control of the Counties. Typically the Property Appraisers page will indicate the building department having jurisdiction. Caution! That information may be related to the tax identification number. The is true in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties. The first two digits of the property tax I.D. indicate the jurisdiction.

#2. Which Forms Do I Need? – Most municipalities have websites, and the Building Department pages have their forms available on the sites. Many have checklists to inform you on exactly what you need to submit. Use the website forms and follow the instructions on the checklists. Many seasoned contractors have the bad habit of using forms they have in a drawer, or stored in a directory on their computer, which may have been replaced. Always use the Building Department websites to get the forms you need.

#3. The Permit Application – This is considered a legal document. No copies are accepted, and all required signatures need to be notarized and original. If there are improper notaries the Building Department will not accept the application. They expect the form to be complete. No black spaces! If something does not apply, put N/A in the box. Many municipalities that require the Owner’s signature on their forms will request “Proof of Ownership” documents. That means the will require corporate documents that show the individual that signed the document is an Officer of the Corporation that owns the property. If the property is owned by an individual, the Property Appraiser page, printed, and attached to the application will suffice. This is the number one problem that occurs in the Building Permit application process. If you have a job in North Miami Beach they will not even accept your application without “Proof of Ownership”. Other municipalities such as Miami Beach, Miami-Dade, Coral Springs will accept the application but will delay issuance of the permit until the ownership issue is resolved. Get your paperwork correct up-front and it will save you time. Be aware that the Florida Building Code allows the Building Department to dispose of you application and construction documents after 60 days if you do not address issues or comments.

#4. Contractor Registration – All licensed contractors are required to be registered in each municipality. Some have notarized registration forms and annual registration fees. The documents required are pretty standard. C.O.I’s, State License, B.T.R. and a clear copy the Qualifier’s D. L.  Some people do not realize that the State License holder is referred to as the “Qualifier”.  If you have a Certified Building Building Contractor or General Contractors License in the State of Florida you are the “Qualifier”. Actually that applies to all Licenses.

#5. Construction Documents – Two complete packages of all construction documents are required by most Building Departments. The Cities that have now gone digital only require one, but to be safe, check their website. There are a few that require three or more. If there are sealed documents, additional copies must be original. No copies are accepted, and that includes reports such as, asbestos surveys and heat load calcs. If you have a commercial job, or are doing demolition work, you may need to have your construction documents reviewed and approved by County agencies. Get those approvals first, before submitting to the local Building Department.

#6. Digital Submissions – If you are not completely familiar with uploading digital permit documents. I highly recommend that you do not attempt it. The Building Departments require specific document naming and directory location for specific documents. You will also not be able to upload documents with embossed seals signed by a design professional. The will need to be electronically sealed per Florida Statue. I recommend that you hand deliver the permit package and pay the fees that the City charges for them to scan your documents into to their system. There also can be delays when you upload your permit package.  If anything is improper or incorrect in the documents you submitted you may not know for days. Having a live person review your paperwork could save you time.

#7. Permit Fees – Most municipalities now have up-front fees when you submit a building permit application. Some even charge all their fees up-front. The fees can range anywhere from 2  percent to 10 percent of the total job cost. I do no recommend that you try to cheat on the job costs. They may request a copy of the contract between the customer and the contractor. Their fees are based on the job cost information on the application and the construction documents submitted as a part of the permit application package. They may have fee sheets for building trades that calculate fees based on quantities of fixtures (plumbing), devices (electrical), and tons (mechanical). Payment options may be limited. Cash needs to be small bills, and credit cards are limited based on the fees charged by credit card companies. Unlike retailers, the government entities do like to absorb the fess charged by credit card companies. Checks are your best option. Unlike retailers, even fees due posted on their website my change after you have paid the fees, and they post that statement on their websites. In other words, even if they screw-up, you need to pay them the additional fees. In addition, bring several checks. Believe it or not, some Cities require separate checks for different fees.

#8. Plan Review – The question that we are always asked is; “How long will it take to get the permit?. The government works in mysterious ways,  and there is no definite answer. Typically, it is three days on average per discipline. Most Building Departments have real-time data on their websites for tracking plan reviews and the associated comments. There is no consistency in website design and software used for their Building Permit databases, so finding the plan review comments and permit status information can give you a headache. They may even require setting up a user account to access the information.

#9. Addressing Comments – There is no consistent procedure between Building Departments. Generally, when you bring in corrected construction documents, that address comments made by the plan reviewers, the sheets or pages that are being replace need to be voided. The Building Department terms for these changes to the submitted construction documents is rework, recheck or corrections. Some people use the term revision, which is incorrect. A revision is when you are making changes to a Building Permit that has already been issued. A response letter is required, and the changes on the plans need to be clouded so plan reviewers do no have to waste time searching for the changes in the updated construction documents. You will need to know which disciplines to send the corrected plans too.

#10. Is My Permit Ready to Issue? – You checked the Building Department website and it may say the permit is approved, or ready to issue. Be careful! Many municipalities have processes they go through, such as pricing, before a Building Permit is actually ready to be picked-up. There also could be a balance due because of additional review fees. If you are not familiar with the Cities procedures, call them before you make a trip there. Hopefully they will answer the phone. Some will send emails, or call the contact numbers on the application with the denied or approved status, and balance due. That is why the information entered on the Permit Application needs to be accurate. Some of our Clients have a bad habit of putting 1-800 or main phone number on the application that go to a operator that has no clue on why they are receiving the call.

I hope this has been helpful, and if you need help with your building permit processing, please give us a call. We over over 30 years experience in construction and building permitting in South Florida. Specifically Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

Manufacturers and Contractors Beware!

Permt_Source_Welcome_ to_South_FloridaWe constantly get calls from manufacturers and out-of-state building contractors interested in expanding into the South Florida area to sell building products and materials, or in the case of contractors, wanting to offer construction services. The conversation always involves the question of what the building permitting process is like in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties. The simple answer is that it can be very complex depending on what you want to have permitted.

Over the past ten years we have had at at least a dozen Clients, the majority being building contractors, that set-up offices in the area without doing their due diligence on the viability of  their contracting business, and the impact that the building permit process would have on the success of their business. They have all since closed their doors. Some purchased the rights to sell a construction product in the State not realizing that the product had State of Florida product approval, but was not approved for use in the high velocity hurricane zone (HVHZ) area of South Florida.

I highly recommend that manufacturers of building products, and building contractors do their home work on the permitting process in Florida, and especially the South Florida area. Review the Florida Building Code and become familiar with those sections referring the the high velocity hurricane zone. I would also recommend that you become familiar with the local Codes and Ordinances of the Counties and Cities you want to target for sales. They can be very different. Even some experienced and seasoned local contractors refuse to do work in some Cities and Counties because of the tedious, time consuming and aggravating  process of getting a building permit issued.

Feel free to call us if you have questions about the building permitting process in South Florida. Specifically, Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties. We may not have all the answers, put we can point you in the right direction.

Window & Door Permits

Window_Door_Permits_Miami_BeachMiami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties are all in the high velocity hurricane zone. This requires that all products installed  meet certain pressure requirements, depending on the height of the structure, the zone the openings are located in, and the exposure category of the building. The products will require a Miami-Dade County Notice of Acceptance (N.O.A.), or a State of Florida Product Approval that states that the product is approved for use in a high velocity hurricane zone (H.V.H.Z.).

Pressure requirements are site specific. A standard table, that is accepted by some building department in Broward County can be downloaded by clicking here.  If a building department does not accept the standard wind load chart you will need to acquire engineered wind pressures for your widow or door retrofit. Engineering Express is a resource that you can use for standard, engineered wind load charts, or site specific engineering. Structures over 40 feet in height will require site specific engineering. Standard, or generic wind load charts will not be accepted.

That gets you through the building department issues. Now you will need to deal with Zoning issues, and those issues can be related to historic districts. Many buildings in coastal areas, such as Miami, Miami Beach and Hollywood, have designated historical districts. Zoning will require conformity to the original architectural look of the building. Window grid patterns and mullion sizes will need to be consistent with the building design. This can be challenging! Trying to retrofitting windows to existing openings in a building built decades ago. Complying with current Building Code egress requirements, and then trying to meet the Zoning requirements may seem almost impossible. Typically, egress and safety requirements supersede Zoning design requirements, but it is a battle.

Permit Source is very experienced in assisting Contractors in their window and door building permit retrofitting issues. We can help you with the more demanding building departments like, Miami, Miami Beach, Hollywood, and Coral Gables.

What is a Permit Runner?

Permit Runner

Permit Runner

The term “permit runner” has been around for decades and is sometimes synonymous with the term “permit expediter”.  They refer to an individual running from building department to building department delivering and picking-up permits. Both terms are way outdated, and do not describe the services that a professional permitting processor supplies to their clients in the high tech construction industry of today. An industry that is bogged down with bloated government bureaucracy, volumes of codes, ordinances, and regulations. To meet the needs of their Clients, today’s so called “permit runner”, must have a construction or architectural background, be able to read and understand construction drawings, and have a working knowledge of the of building codes and construction practices.

Twenty-five years ago I could walk into a City of Miami plan reviewers office with a box of pastelitos and Cubian coffee and walk out with a permit for a complete interior build-out. The days of the mini-skirt clad, hot blond, permit runner, getting a plan reviewer to sign everything she puts in front of him are over. The term “permit expediter” is also a misnomer. Governments have their procedures and processes which need to be followed every step of the way. It is the exception rather than the rule, that if you know someone, you can circumvent the process. Most government employees want to protect their very lucrative pensions and will not violate policies to do you a favor. There is always the possibility, in today’s tight economy, that your government might offer expedited review. For a fee, …of course!

Permit Source, and the permit processors of 2010 are professionals that work along with contractors, attorneys, engineers and or architects to determine what exactly needs to be done in order for the building process to start correctly, with the proper forms and supporting documents. Every municipality has different systems, rules, forms and procedures, and government agencies are typically, slow and unresponsive. Permit processors review and track documentation, coordinate and disseminate information to all parties involved in the project, and keep the project moving through the permitting process. Many times, even on a small job like a re-roof, permitting will involve several governmental agencies and a permit processing service will manage the entire  process for you.

The conclusion is;… if you are looking for a “permit runner”, hire your teenage son, or your retired mother-in law. If you want a professional permit processor, then hire Permit Source. You get what you pay for!