Permitting 1120: An Understated Success Story

Permits are a huge part of any construction project, but I didn’t spend much time during our closing phase writing about ours. Frankly, we were more concerned with financing and closing than runoff management and overhang inclusions in setbacks. Now is a golden opportunity to examine and appreciate a critical phase that, by virtue of going right, might have easily gone unnoticed.

I was able to rest easy because Murphy happens to know their way around the Department of Planning and Community Development (PCD). They had recently completed two very similar houses close by and have enjoyed working relationships with some of the staff for decades.

While I was working hard to ensure we had all our paperwork in order for underwriting, the city submitted a single two-page question sheet to our builder for clarifications and modifications. I saw the letter go by and shrugged, happy I could outsource dealing with what, to my inexperienced eye, looked like a collection of annoying details mixed with potentially calamitous demands.

Fortunately for us, our builder didn’t even break a sweat. A few minor revisions to the engineering diagram, a dash of patience, and we had our permits in hand.

I’ve dealt with these same planners and inspectors before when doing my own extensive remodels to our old house.  I found them to be fast, professional, and a pleasure to work with. Not everyone has had the same experience as us, but there are many factors that can influence the process. If you do have to deal with PCD directly, I would advise patience, an open mind, and a lot of humility. Many of these folks have been doing this for years and have a lot of good information to share.

Our permits were delivered in near record time with little ado.  For this I credit my team of local, experienced experts. The architects are “east-siders” and know very well what local planners want to see. The builder has an engineer they know well who also has experience working with local planners. Finally, the builder themselves knows what the city expects and is able to perform to their standards with minimal back and forth.

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