The permitting process is notorious for inducing headaches in citizens and government employees alike. It can be long, slow and aggravating. But it’s also completely necessary, as permits are required for just about everything these days. Whether it’s building a fence, installing a new water heater, adding on a garage, a new roof, new parking lots, a completely new building – if it’s new and it’s related to a home or a building, it’s safe to assume you’ll need a permit before you do it.

But obtaining a permit can take anywhere from a few days to several months or even up to two years. And during the waiting period, populations are growing, the need for more affordable housing is rising and a robust economy is booming for business. There needs to be a better solution.

Local government agencies interested in adapting to the changing expectations of its citizens should look for a quicker permitting solution through technology. Implementing a fully automated, online permitting platform is a way to cut down on permit review time without sacrificing review standards. Creating one central point of contact for permits standardizes the process, reduces the frustration and time spent looking for the correct forms, clarifies the maze of different regulations and building codes and allows for real-time inspection and progress updates for all parties involved.

Accelerating the permitting process has real-world impact to the residents and citizens of a city. Here are 5 ways reducing lengthy permitting operations benefits everyone from the homeowner all the way to city hall:

1. DECREASES COST FOR CITIZENS

Development approvals of new construction and remodels can take anywhere from a few weeks to years. These lengthy permit review and approval processes can significantly increase building costs by tying up a developer’s capital and accumulating fees and interest expenses. These extra costs do nothing to benefit the homeowner – usually only serving to decrease affordability because the extra costs are most often passed down to the homeowner or renter.

2. REDUCES PROHIBITED ADDITIONS

As the old saying goes, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than to seek permission. When it comes to getting permits, many citizens tend to agree. Frequently, citizens will simply go ahead with building additions without going through the permitting process because it’s either too costly or too lengthy. This can result in new additions being built without proper inspections or code compliance, leading to more problems later on.

3. LOWERS COSTS FOR GOVERNMENTS

Too much time spent on issuing permits equals too much money being spent by the city. The reason issuing permits is so time intensive is usually because permit requests have to go through layers and layers of review by a dozen different departments. By reducing duplicative review procedures, eliminating confusing permit procedures and automating updates and reports, agencies can redirect resources to other initiatives.   

4. ALLOWS AGILITY

When the permitting process is fast and flexible, it allows for developers and builders to adjust to changing market needs, like building affordable housing in a downturn economy, much more quickly rather than abandoning the project all together. Integrating the permitting process onto mobile applications increases the ability to adapt to updates on-the-go.

5. CREATES ACCOUNTABILITY

A one-stop shop for online permitting promotes accountability. It allows for easier project tracking and automated progress reports. It also grants some power to citizens so they can be aware of the progress, resulting in less frustrated calls to determine status of a permit.

The future of a municipality depends on its ability to safely keep pace with its growth demands, like being able to house all of its citizens and accommodate for new businesses and infrastructure. Getting permits out to residents, developers and businesses is one key way governments and citizens can grow efficiently together.