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Most people will never venture to the local building department. That’s probably a good thing. As professional remodelers we regularly submit ourselves (and our blueprints) to the bureaucratic process of obtaining a building permit, scheduling periodic inspections of a project, and complying with building codes and other regulatory red tape.
That, of course, is our job … and one that we take pride in making efficient and hassle-free for our clients. To be sure, working through the red tape takes experience, savvy and patience. Those who know the drill are able to navigate the approval and inspection process with confidence.
Consider the potential mine field of regulatory issues that most remodeling contractors must map out and manage to insure full compliance.
Plan Check. Before a set of blueprints or house plans can be used, the building department assigns a plan checker who reviews the drawings to insure compliance with current building codes. The plan checker looks at structural design and loads, plumbing, heating, electrical layouts and specifications, and other details in the drawings. We double check every detail to make sure the job gets through the plan checker without delay. If everything is in order, the drawings are approved for construction.
To help smooth the process, we may engage subcontractors or building materials suppliers for their input before submitting the plans. Such refinements and attention to detail help avoid “red-lining,” or a return of the plans unapproved.
Permitting. A building permit — a required document in most municipalities for almost any construction project — is the document that a building inspector will review and refer to when he or she visits the job site. The building department will only issue a permit for an approved set of blueprints or plans, and the inspector will rely on the permit and plans on the job site to compare what’s drawn (and approved) to what’s actually being built. It is imperative, then, to submit a complete and comprehensive set of plans for approval and permitting … and then follow those plans to the letter to avoid confusion, questions and potentially costly compliance issues that can stop the job cold until they are resolved.
Inspections. Inspections at key points of a project’s construction are necessary to make sure the approved plans are being built as drawn. Professional remodeling contractors have a talent for managing their own work crews as well as the many subcontractors and suppliers hired to do the work and keep the project on schedule. To maintain a rigorous schedule and deliver a project on the date promised requires timely calls to the inspectors allowing plenty of time to schedule his or her visit. We meet with inspectors on site to support a timely review of the job’s progress and obtain a release without delay.
Increasingly, the trend is toward more inspections and red tape covering a wide variety of issues. These can include environmental impact, energy use, zoning or land-use variances, and other regulatory compliance issues. Professional remodelers are familiar with what’s current in this regard, and can shepherd homeowners and their remodeling projects through the red tape to help ensure their owners’ dreams become reality.
Todd Allen Miller, AIA
QMA Design+Build, LLC
5000 Boardwalk, Suite 2
Ventnor, NJ 08406
NJ New Home Builder License #037561
NJ Home Improvement Contractor #13VH01107300
(609) 822-4949 – phone
(609) 822-4429 – fax
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.