The Building Department & Submittal Process
Your city’s building department plays a big role in your project. They approve or disapprove the plans and details throughout the process. At any time, the city may request changes for reasons of health and safety. The process of going through submittals, may be unknown to some people. In this post we want to walk you through it step by step.
What Is The Building Department?
The building department is usually located in your city hall. They handle all the applications for building permits and revise and approve your architectural plans. The building code officials review the plans carefully to ensure that the project is going to be built according to local building and zoning codes.
Submitting architectural plans is needed for every project. The city needs to make sure you are following local building codes. The submittal process can take a long time due to the careful review of the plans.
The submittal process is as follows:
Your architect will create documents for your project to be taken to the city. These documents contain information about your project and property, drawings, and samples of the project.
The next step is to take the documents to your city’s building department and submit them for review. You can make arraignments with your architect to take care of this task for you if you’d like. Or you can save a little and manage submittals yourself. Managing it yourself will also keep you up to date on your projects progress and the fee requirements from the city.
During the review process, the city code officials will carefully check each element of your submitted documents to ensure they fully follow the building and zoning codes and any other regulations that may apply. Each sheet in the set of documents will be reviewed and stamped or sealed for approval. If any additional info is needed or something needs to be changed, the city will typically send a notice, called a Plan Review Correction Letter and often referred to by the architect as red lines. The architect must make the changes required by the city and resubmit for approval. Additional fees are not typically required upon resubmission. Changes by the city are common and often expected. It is not uncommon to get several changes by the city on a single project. Some cities are more strict than others and they don't always post all the changes in the first review causing a prolonged process. This varies depending on the project's complexity and type. The building department may also require documents to be approved by the fire, public works, and planning departments.
After your project has been approved by the city, construction can begin. You are required to build your project according to the plans and any changes from the building department. If minor changes need to be made during construction, this can be completed through a process called a change order or site change. This is a simple process that can be reviewed and completed on site with the code official and by submitting the change order to the city. If major changes need to be made after construction has started, your project's plans will need to be re-submitted to the building department for review and approval.
The submittal process can at times take a while, but we can't stress enough how important it is to follow this process carefully to avoid dangerous and costly issues in the future. We encourage you to stay focused on the end goal and not get discouraged!