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Permitting Problems For Building Contractors: Do Expediters Really Expedite?

building contractors

Fort Lauderdale is just one of many cities in South Florida acknowledging delays in its permitting system for construction and new development. Ever-increasing scrutiny, understaffed departments and old-fashioned manual systems may contribute to the problem. A local boom in new construction has certainly kept the departments busy.

Building officials say that permit reviews typically take 38 to 48 days, depending upon the project’s complexity. In response to that, many Florida construction companies have complained about delays of six months to over a year. Since these delays can hold up projects and cost fortunes in lost time, it’s important to understand the process and know how to get permit reviews completed as quickly as possible. If you need help with a South Florida building permit, this information should help.

Do Expediters Help Speed Up Building Permits For Building Contractors?

It’s very common to see commercial building contractors hire a “permit expediter” to hand-carry construction documents through a system saddled with a myriad of agencies and processes which vary from city to city and county to county. Once handled internally, very few owners, designers, or contractors have the staff to devote to this time-consuming task. Many people within or consulting to the industry might suggest expediters are perceived to be superior because they have ‘connections’ within the system. Former employees, for instance, might understand procedures well and even have personal relationships within the department. On the surface, this seems logical, but it doesn’t always work out well when put into practice.

Many building contractors have found that these connected expediters aren’t always helpful for a couple of reasons:

  • In some cases, an expediter’s’ experience and developed relationships within various departments and concern for maintaining those relationships turn them into advocates for those agencies, focusing more on what cannot get done than what can get done. A client requiring such service does so expecting an advocate for their cause, a problem-solver without conflicted loyalties.
  • People who have connections within the department may value those loyalties and relationships over their own client’s needs. Building developers, contractors, and owners expecting permit expediting need to be clear that their hired providers have the will and tenacity to lobby and push matters to resolution on their clients’ behalf.

With this in mind, it’s very possible that an outside person who understands the permit system and has a stake in the process can serve clients better. After all, when clients pay for construction consulting, they should pay for an advocate for their business and not the city department.

What Else Might Hold Up Building Permits For Florida Construction Companies?

Part of the problem with long-delayed permits are related to an agency’s fear of making mistakes in approvals; historically permits have been rescinded, which creates a most contentious relationship with their customers. It seems agencies use the same process for all permitted projects without regard for size or scope; criteria for segregating based upon complexity may help avoid bottlenecks. An increasing propensity to delve into design details that are best left to the licensed, liable contractors and designers could also be causing delays. Of course, it’s also important to underscore the fact that many times, legitimate, client-side problems can hold up permits.

For example, owners or architects, due to time constraints and a motivation to begin the process as early as possible, will push the work product to the degree that inferior permit plans are submitted, thus starting the process on the wrong foot. This has become a huge issue as time spent by the various departments on inferior documents eats into the time allotted for complete or superior documents. Thus, the vicious circle begins, causing reviewers to perform their service repeatedly. Improperly addressed project phasing can cause delays and is a subject deserving of its own writing. Naturally, the most important thing that applicants can do is to make sure they, their designers and contractors have thoroughly vetted project particulars and produced a superior design and construction approach that is ready for review.

Contact GSD Contracting First for Construction Consulting

If you have a construction project, you need proactive and experienced construction consulting services. GSD Contracting has been delivering projects as planned and to each client’s satisfaction for over 35 years. You can work with a partner who understands every part of the building process, including the paperwork. Call us at 954.961.4222, or use the handy online form to contact us.

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