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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.

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 Both terms are way outdated, and do not describe the services that a professional permitting processor supplies to their clients in the high tech construction industry of today.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!

Closed Fridays


Moving to a four day work week seems to becoming a trend with the building departments. The latest to add to the list is Miramar. The following are the four day work week building departments:

  • Palm Beach County
  • Coconut Creek
  • Pembroke Pines
  • Margate
  • Wilton Manors
  • Lauderdale Lakes
  • Miramar

What makes matters even worse is when there is a holiday. Those weeks will only be a three day work week for the building departments. This trend seems to be occurring mostly in Broward County and Palm Beach County and I would expect it to continue. We are marking the Building Departments that are on a four day work week with a red asterisk on our Helpful Links page.

Contractors will need to plan accordingly. This means there will be one day less for inspections and one day less for getting permit applications in for review. Their days are longer too! That means that you may need to adjust your staffing hours.

Which Building Department?

As I say, on the main page of the Permit Source website, there are over 100 building departments in just the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. I can’t tell you the number of times that a contractor had spent time and money getting all the forms prepared and they were all the wrong forms. If you are a contractor, or even a home owner, you need to be sure which building department has jurisdiction for issuing the Building Permit you are applying for.

The County Property Appraiser’s Office issues a tax number to each property. That number contains pieces of information that indicates the exact location of the property. As usual, every County has a different format, and even names, for their tax numbers. In Miami-Dade and Broward Counties it is called the Folio number, in Palm Beach County is the Parcel Control Number, (PCN). In Lee County it is the STRAP number. There are typically a series of numbers, or possibly letters, in the tax number the indicates the municipality that has jurisdiction. In Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County the first two digits of the tax number indicate the jurisdiction. You can get a list of the municipality numbers by going to the Helpful Links page, or click here for Palm Beach County and click here for Miami-Dade County. In Broward County they actually show the name of the municipality on the Property Appraiser’s website.

If you are in doubt, contact the Property Appraiser’s office or the Building Department.