What Is A Permit Expediter?
A permit expeditor is a service professional who specializes in obtaining building permits for construction projects. They often have:
- A deep understanding of local building codes.
- Relationships with jurisdiction professionals.
- Specialization in specific types of projects.
Permit expeditors primarily serve as advisors and facilitators for new building construction and remodeling projects. Specifically, our role is to advise building owners, architects and engineers on local ordinances and building codes, and then support with the submittal and management of their permit applications.
At the end of the day, we simplify the building permit process so construction can get completed on time. Permitting can be a black hole of confusion. Our job is to help clients stay informed and on schedule.
What Does a Permit Expeditor Do?
In our work for clients, permit expeditors may support in the following ways:
- Advise on local ordinances and overlay zones.
- Interpret local building and zoning codes.
- Conduct due diligence research.
- Consolidate and review project documentation prior to submittal to ensure complete, accurate applications.
- Submit project application packets to a jurisdiction on the client’s behalf.
- Coordinate plan review comments and corrections with the owners, architects and engineers.
- Monitor permit activity for status updates or unexpected delays.
- Meet with city officials and plan examiners to understand blueprint revisions and requirements.
- Represent clients at zoning, architectural review and variance hearings.
What to Look for When Hiring a Permit Expeditor?
Choosing the right permit expediting firm can save time and money. The first thing to understand is there are two levels of permit expediting—tactical and strategic. You should look for a firm with a track record of doing both well.
- Tactical Expeditors are good at the procedural aspects of permitting, including due diligence research, plan submittal packages, and providing consistent, quick follow up to comments and questions.
- Strategic Expeditors understand the permitting game at a deeper level. They have relationships with city officials and understand what reviewers expect to see in a permit application. They also know the jurisdiction’s process, typical timetables and internal dynamics, so they can help project owners set realistic expectations and production schedules.
To partner with a permit expeditor who is both strategic and tactical, evaluate prospective agencies using on the following:
- Understanding of the local market.
- Knowledge of expediting strategy options.
- Relationships with key stakeholders.
- Availability of real-time updates and weekly reporting.
- Willingness to update trackers, if needed.
- Interest in attending your design team meetings.
- Plan check fees strategy.
- Issuance strategy.
- Channels of communication—both the number of and frequency.
- Utilization of modern cloud-based solutions (e.g., a client portal).
- Dedicated PSA software for expediting and program management.
- A track record of managing related projects.
- Access to building code databases.
- Process for sharing internal knowledge among team members.
- Systems for continuous team training.
What Do Permit Expeditors Need to Know?
Early in your conversations with a permit expeditor, they should try to get a solid understanding of the scope and scale of your project(s). Some of the questions you’ll be asked include:
- How many sites are you planning to open/remodel in 2023?
- When do you typically begin your permitting process?
- Do you use leasing feasibility studies?
- How do you permit today (e.g., in-house staff, expeditor, design team)?
- Are your projects mostly new construction? Tenant improvements? In-line? Out-parcels/pads? Anchors?
- What is your definition of “expediting”?
- What is the impact of missing a key milestone/construction date?
- What is the impact of missing your opening date (i.e., revenue lost per day)?
- What do you feel is typically the root cause of permitting delays?
- What has been your biggest obstacle to getting permits approved quickly?
Your answers to these questions will give permit expeditors the background needed to accurately scope and quote a project, and then set up your project management team for success.
How Much Do Permit Expeditors Charge?
There is no set or standard price for permitting services. Like lawyers, expediters can bill by the hour, the project, or a blend of the two.
However they quote your project, expeditors with experience in the jurisdiction and the type of construction involved in your project will have a good sense of how much work and how long the project will take to complete.
As a result, the quote should be pretty accurate and easy to turn around.