Building Permits: Navigating Bureaucracy to Move your Project Along


A variety of building permits are typically required for new construction and renovation of buildings. Building permits are issued as a matter of right if the plans and specifications submitted by an applicant for a permit comply with a city’s or county’s building codes. Almost every local government in America has some form of building codes adopted from a nationally promulgated form. National code writers will release a new version of a code every few years. A city will formally adopt a version of the code and often also adopt local amendments to the code that contain specific provisions that regulate development in a manner specific to that city. For example, the City of Houston has adopted the 2012 International Building Code with local amendments while the City of Pearland has adopted the 2015 International Building Code with local amendments. What that means for you is that building codes are, at least, slightly different almost everywhere you look.

Sometimes submitted plans do not comply with the adopted building codes and the plans are rejected. While that can be incredibly frustrating and expensive, it is much better than having plans approved and permits issued in error, then revoked. Alternatively, plans and specifications may comply with local building codes, but are rejected anyway, often requiring special intervention
on behalf of the applicant to show the city or county that they are wrong.

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