Permitting Pitfalls to Avoid

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Like death and taxes, permits are a mandatory part of construction projects. Permits are the safeguard to ensure buildings are designed and built to current codes. Love them or loathe them, permits keep people safe in the built environment. Here at AMB Architects, we’re such big proponents of building permits that we have a dedicated professional in-house to direct the whole process! Full permitting services is a big value-add AMB offers.


Jimmy Hoagland manages permitting services for AMB projects in Houston and across Harris County. This includes all types of construction permits, like demolition, water/wastewater, structural, and electrical. Jimmy also obtains Certificates of Occupancy/Temporary Occupancy for our clients – the golden ticket to moving into that beautiful new space. Jimmy interacts with local permitting offices every day online. All this time spent with the good people at the Houston Permitting Center and other local jurisdictions has taught Jimmy a few things about getting permits approved on the first try.


Here are the top three mistakes we see here at AMB when submitting construction documents for permitting:


  1. 1. Many people forget that whenever submitting comment responses, a response sheet is needed. It is important to do this for two reasons – it shows you have addressed each comment, and it helps direct the reviewer to only those comments. Without including a response sheet, it can be automatic rejection again. Or worse, it may trigger another full review and additional, new comments.


  1. 2. When submitting revisions to a project, always include a narrative. Without this, it can be an automatic rejection. The narrative should outline the full story – what was done to address the comment, why it was done and where to find it on the plans.



  1. 3. Identify the correct Building Construction Type. This one can be tricky! If you have access to old plans, refer to the life safety plan to find the classification. A life safety plan serves as a map of all fire/life safety elements. It also illustrates how building occupants will be evacuated from a building or public space in an emergency. The building construction type is usually next to this floor plan, similar to the image shown below.



  1. 4. Another place where you can find the proper construction type is on the fire code review sheet. The purpose of this fire code review sheet is to provide minimum requirements, with due regard to function, for the design and construction or substantial improvement of public buildings to reduce the risk to life and property from fire. This sheet is comprehensive, including general information about the project, occupancy type and load, the list of finish materials that could be potential ignition sources, fire-resistance wall rating, and the type of fire protection systems necessary to control each significant hazard.



  1. Refer to this sheet if you don’t have access to the original life safety plan. Bear in mind all architects have different layouts/sheets so make sure to thoroughly look through your existing plans when trying to find where the construction type is located.



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