Construction permitting is complicated so hiring a qualified architect is essential

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POSTED

July 16, 2020
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CATEGORY

Architect Coach
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AUTHOR

Jerel McCants

Permitting materializes itself into every construction project, regardless of size and scope.

This fiendish criminal can take over a project and grow it into a monstrous ordeal that can wreak havoc on the inexperienced lay person, unfamiliar with the design and construction process. 

 

Why Permitting? 

Permitting is a regulatory agency that every municipality uses to enforce strict compliance with building codes, life safety codes, fire related codes, ADA, etc. The intent of permitting is to ensure that construction projects are developed to these standards and thus produce a safe environment for persons to live, work, entertain, worship, relax, and more. Practically every activity in which a human participates within the built environment. But, there’s a problem….. 

 

A mountain out of a molehill! 

Many times, permitting agencies can enforce too much bureaucracy and regulations that can figuratively kill a construction project. This can happen when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object! The intent of the homeowner or developer can often clash with the oath the permit official has taken to adhere to the building codes and regulations regardless of the financial impact incurred by the applicant. The result is a battle of wills by each party looking past each other and losing sight of the project outcome. This happens when the applicant (homeowner or developer) does not understand why every nuance of the code applies to their project. The permitting official often wants to apply every nuance of the code to ensure they are not missing or overlooking any criteria that could render a project unsafe for occupation. 

 

 

Where’s the beef? 

Why is there opposition to citizens wanting to enhance their environment? Why does permitting become an obstacle to issue permits? Shouldn’t permitting agencies work with citizens and assist with approving projects for construction? Even as an Architect for over 15 years, I ask these same questions when clients are baffled that the Permit Official issues comments that are well beyond the intent of a project slated for construction.

 

Through the looking glass 

So why is there such a problem with permitting a project for issuance of a construction permit? Part of the problem can come from overzealous permit officials that want to enforce a set of plans that is as perfect as possible, once it lands on their desk for review. On the other hand, there are permit officials that are not proficient at their assignment and seek council from more experienced staff, which can prolong the process.

There are also other factors that can come into play within the permitting process such as revenue for the municipality. Some jurisdiction’s charge for projects without any set scale of pricing that can be tracked, and additional fees can be charged if successive reviews are required by the permit official. The outcome is that the client is frustrated that this process can take longer than the design documents that were created for submission and can even last longer than the construction process itself.

 

permitting

 

There is also an adversarial relationship that exists between Architect and Engineers submitting their design documents to the permit official. This happens with the permit official believes they know how to design the project better than the Architect and/or Engineer that produced the plans for submission for permit. I have seen this happen firsthand and through other accounts of architects clashing with some permit officials over the application of building codes and regulations. 

 

You say potato, I say tomato 

Misinterpretation of the code can happen among architects and permitting officials which can create conflict. After all, building codes and manuals are legal documents and the law can and will be interpreted differently because human beings will naturally take sides to advocate for their position. When compromise is taken off the table of negotiations, one is left with no means for a solution. 

 

Who wins? 

When this impasse occurs, there are few routes to take to arrive at a solution. Appealing to the Head Building Official may be the last resort to force an impetuous permit official to concede. I have gone this route more than a few times when permit officials create tension and develop a vendetta believing only, they are the right personnel to interpret and dictate the building code. Sounds like a power trip? I will leave that to the reader!

 

In Conclusion 

Permitting can be a daunting task but can be managed with staying calm and bracing for the ride. Even though the architect is your advocate and is legally liable for the design documents that are submitted for permit, the permit official has the task of enforcing the code and even sometimes exceeding the code requirements when it comes to the safety of persons that will occupy the completed building. A savvy architect will be able to navigate the code and apply it on your behalf to get a project issued for permit. And if you have any questions — feel free to reach out to us at Jerel McCants Architecture. We would be more than happy to assist!

Eric Del Monte

Project Manager

Eric is a native of Miami, Florida and is a graduate of Miami Dade College and the University of South Florida with a Masters in Architecture. He contributes his knowledge in Revit, CADD, Lumion, Twin Motion and other 3D modeling software. Fluent in Spanish and English to provide services to a greater public to meet outreach goals to our community.

Terry Miller

Construction Administrator

Mr. Terry T. Miller brings over 34 years in architecture and construction, that ranged from project designer to project architect within architectural firms in the Tampa Bay area. His work experience includes all phases, from project inception through project completion and close-out. His extensive previous experience in the construction industry has proven to be invaluable in understanding the architectural and construction process in delivering the built environment.

Terry’s main area of responsibility within the firm is in management/oversight which includes: Coordination and directing practice efforts in design, technical specifications and construction administration. He provides his extensive experience and skill set in the solution and problem solving skills of what it takes to deliver the built environment in an efficient, value-added, and pragmatic manner.

Manuel Alvarino

Project Manager II

Mr. Manuel is a native of Cuba and has lived in the United States for over 10 years. He has worked as an intern while in Cuba before coming to the U.S. to further his education. Currently, he is enrolled in Architectural Studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Manuel has an extensive range of experience in commercial renovation and residential. He has a multitude of experience in computer rendering and modeling with an advanced knowledge of multiple graphic software platforms. His abilities has added an extra dimension to our office environment.

Safoura Kazemilari

Project Manager I

Safoura has ten years of experience working for the City of Shiraz, Iran as the Urban Beautification Department Head. While at this position she lead multi-disciplinary professionals to produce federally funded projects throughout the City. Once is the United States, she carried her knowledge to various firms providing public/ private design and coordination services. We are excited to have her unquie skill set contribute to our expanding client base.

Ada Padilla

Office Administrator

Ada has over 30 years’ experience in office management/ administration and human resources and has a degree in accounting. Her responsibilities have covered areas of business operations regarding payroll, bookkeeping, account reconciliation, customer services and vendor relations.

She has worked for various companies in the design and construction fields which has proven to be a valuable skill set when working with industry professionals. Her management of staff and involvement in day-to-day tasks improve our proficiency and response to better serve our clients and consultants.

Ada’s expanded responsibilities covers contract agreements, business development and outreach in the community to promote the firm’s vision and mission statement to enhance our impact into the greater Tampa Bay area and beyond.

Jerel McCants AIA, LEED Green Assoc.

Principal-In-Charge

Mr. Jerel McCants established Jerel McCants Architecture, Inc. in 2009. Mr. McCants has experience in many building types including Municipal, Educational, High-rise condominiums, Cultural and Residential.

Mr. McCants mission is to contribute to innovative architectural design and construction methods to residential and commercial markets as a Managing Principal based on his ability to direct staff members and communicate effectively with clients and contractors.

Mr. McCants believes that design is an action that is expressed: an act of many different disciplines uniting in a common cause which he terms “Responsive Architecture”. His mix of small, medium and large (S,M,L) projects has allowed him to maintain a steady firm standing and consistent viability in the global marketplace.