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Friday, January 22, 2010

Permit Fees

Like the cost of everything else, permit fees have increased over the years at a steady pace with the inflation rate, but, during the last year, and in the worst recession in decades, the fees charged by municipalities, has in many cases, increased by 100 percent. With local Florida governments looking for additional revenue sources, one of the first places they targeted was permit fees.

It has been a struggle for the construction industry in South Florida in the past couple of years and the increased fees have made it even more difficult for contractors to stay in business. Permit Source Clients tell us that businesses, and property owners, make decisions to hold off doing work, or they try to do it without a permit, just because of the astronomical permit fees. A perfect example of over inflated permit fees, is the City of Weston. A recent job having a total construction cost of $925.00 was assessed a permit fee of $525.00.

To add to the problem, more and more municipalities are requiring all or part of the permit fees be paid up-front. They have increased re-inspection fees and added re-review fees. The first thing the permit clerks say when you walk in the door is "What is your check number?"

The rule of thumb to use, as a rough estimate of permit fees use to be 1.5 percent. That number has increased to 3-5 percent. Cities such as, Key Biscayne and Weston, which have always had extremely high permit fees can be as much as 10 percent. There are a few municipalities that have held their permit fees at pre-recession levels but they are few and far between. Contractors and property owners be warned!

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Closed Fridays

Moving to a four day work week seems to becoming a trend with the building departments. The latest to add to the list is Miramar. The following are the four day work week building departments:
  • Palm Beach County
  • Coconut Creek
  • Pembroke Pines
  • Margate
  • Wilton Manors
  • Lauderdale Lakes
  • Miramar
What makes matters even worse is when there is a holiday. Those weeks will only be a three day work week for the building departments. This trend seems to be occurring mostly in Broward County and Palm Beach County and I would expect it to continue. We are marking the Building Departments that are on a four day work week with a red asterisk on our Helpful Links page.

Contractors will need to plan accordingly. This means there will be one day less for inspections and one day less for getting permit applications in for review. Their days are longer too! That means that you may need to adjust your staffing hours.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Which Building Department?

As I say, on the main page of the Permit Source website, there are over 100 building departments in just the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. I can't tell you the number of times that a contractor had spent time and money getting all the forms prepared and they were all the wrong forms. If you are a contractor, or even a home owner, you need to be sure which building department has jurisdiction for issuing the Building Permit you are applying for.

The County Property Appraiser's Office issues a tax number to each property. That number contains pieces of information that indicates the exact location of the property. As usual, every County has a different format, and even names, for their tax numbers. In Miami-Dade and Broward Counties it is called the Folio number, in Palm Beach County is the Parcel Control Number, (PCN). In Lee County it is the STRAP number. There are typically a series of numbers, or possibly letters, in the tax number the indicates the municipality that has jurisdiction. In Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County the first two digits of the tax number indicate the jurisdiction. You can get a list of the municipality numbers by going to the Helpful Links page, or click here for Palm Beach County and click here for Miami-Dade County. In Broward County they actually show the name of the municipality on the Property Appraiser's website.

If you are in doubt, contact the Property Appraiser's office or the Building Department.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Product Approval Vs. Notice of Acceptance

Many contractors, as well as, homeowners, think that these two documents are interchangeable. They are not! Permit Source has had Clients, and the key word here is had, that looked at South Florida as a cash cow based on using the Product Approval document issued by the State of Florida. Basically, they did not do their homework.

The State issued Product Approval indicates that a product is approved for use as a construction material within the State of Florida. But! That approval does not mean that it can be used in a high velocity hurricane zone. There may be an exclusion in that approval that indicates that it is not approved for use in those areas. Those areas just happen to be Miami-Dade, Broward and parts of Palm Beach County.

The Miami-Dade issued Notice of Acceptance, or N.O.A., is specific to the high velocity hurricane zones. You can use and submit the State of Florida Product Approvals but you need to be extra careful that you make sure the product is approved for use in a high velocity hurricane zone. For anyone out side of those areas you can go to Florida Building Code On Line and download the State issued Product Approvals.

For anyone lucky enough to be in the high velocity hurricane zone you can go to Miami-Dade Product Control to download the N.O.A.'s you need. When I say lucky, I am not being facetious! These code requirements will prevent the catastrophic damage that was seen during hurricane Andrew and Katrina.

All these links, as well as, additional resources are available on the Permit Source website and you are free to comment and ask questions on our blog.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Roofing in a High Velocity Hurricane Zone

If you are a roofing contractor in Palm Beach, Miami-Dade or Broward County you should recognize this page. It is Section"A" and "B" of the High Velocity Hurricane Zone Uniform Permit Application Form which is required to be submitted, in duplicate, with any roofing permit application. Palm Beach county has a slightly different version, but the required information is similar. The form is used to detail the roofing systems to be installed, and their components. In addition to the form itself, for each of the products or systems used, a Notice of Acceptance or Product Approval is required to be submitted indicating that the materials are approved for use in a high velocity hurricane zone.

Miami-Dade County and Broward County also require two additional documents to be submitted with the application package. The Underwriters Laboratories fire directory listing indicating that the product or system has a Class"A" fire rating, and the Section 1524 Required Owners Notification for Roofing Considerations.

Just when you figured you were done and ready to submit there still may be another document you need to add. An engineers signed and sealed calculations for enhanced fastener spacing. This is required in all three Counties, depending on the roofing system you are using. There is one exception, and that is that RAS-150 (Roofing Application Standards), a Prescriptive BUR (Built Up Roofing) Requirement is accepted in Broward County instead of an engineers sealed calculations if the systems and products described in RAS-150 are used.

There is still another document you may need. An Asbestos Notification form. The requirement's on notification and asbestos disposal vary from County to County and are usually under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environmental Protection. Typically asbestos is only an issue on commercial re-roofs.

Your still not done! If this is a commercial re-roof you will need an asbestos report prepared by a certified laboratory and that report submitted with your permit application package. Engineered drainage calculations, pull tests, and moisture sampling may also be required as a part of your submittal.

If this all sounds way too complicated, or if you just do not have the time to put roofing permit application packages together, Permit Source offers that service to our clients. We can do roofing surveys, acquire all the necessary engineering, assemble the permit submittal package and apply for the roofing permit. We are experienced in the over 100 building departments in the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties and know their specific requirements. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have or for rate quotes.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Open Permits

Open permits are permits that have expired which have not passed the required inspections. The first step in the process is to renew the permit. Try contacting the original contractor. If the company is no longer in business, or unresponsive, the home owner may be able to renew the permit in their name depending the type of permit. In many situations they may need to hire a contractor to renew the permit. There are municipal fees involved and if a new contractor is hired there will be fees for their services

The next step is to get the permit closed. Inspection may have to be done, and in some cases those inspections may involve work that is concealed. Destructive testing may be required and engineers hired to certify the work was done to code. There are even situations were the work performed under the permit may have to be removed. Depending on the contractors costs, testing and engineers fees it may be more cost effective to remove the work that was performed under the permit.

Closing an open permit can obviously be a time consuming and complicated task. Even the most experienced real estate professionals may not have the resources required to close even a simple trade permit. If you need assistance with open permit problems we can help. Permit Source works with contractors, engineers and architects on a daily basis. Are pool of professionals can assist in resolving open permit issues for commercial and residential property owners. Feel free to call us to discuss your open permit problem.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009


The Permit Source blog is an informational resource for anyone needing assistance with building permit related issues in the South Florida area. In addition to issues that will be addressed in this blog, you can visit our website pages for information on such topics as Open Permits , and visit our Helpful Links page which has a listing of useful resources include links to building department websites.

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