How the Right Permitting Workflow Promotes Building Safety
If you’re a local government building permitting official, you know all too well how important your work in building safety is to the lives of your citizens.
Deficiencies in building permitting laws and mistakes in permitting processes can lead to tragic injuries and deaths, whether through the deck collapses that injure an estimated 6,000 people per year or building collapses that result in significant loss of life.
As you take part in ICC’s Building Safety Month during May, it’s a good time to consider how improvements to your permitting process itself can help ensure the safety of both your citizens and inspectors.
An Automated, Efficient Permitting Workflow Can Save Lives
Paper-based processes are risky. Paper permit applications can get lost or forgotten; or an employee can forget a step in a paper-based workflow.
With so much room for human error, you create the risk of a tragedy.
That’s why OpenGov Citizen Services provides building officials with a cloud-based software system and online, automated workflows to minimize human error in the approval process of each permit.
The solution enables each permit application to flow electronically from intake to departmental reviews, automatically assigning to the next available employee. This automated workflow ensures that no permit is ever issued before all required approvals are complete.
In addition, all activity is recorded and kept in one central location, so you can easily see any overdue or previously completed work. As a result, permit applications and building inspections requests don’t get lost or overlooked.
In addition, conditional workflows automatically flag projects built near wetlands or special zones, asking the applicant to provide extra information or routing the application to an additional department that must review the project. This helps protect your building inspectors from entering a location with incomplete information about risks.
In a time when some local governments are pressed to carry out hundreds or even thousands of follow-up inspections, our cloud solution also makes inspections easy. In fact, it automatically optimizes inspectors’ daily routes to maximize efficiency.
In addition, your inspectors can conduct mobile inspections in the field using a smartphone or tablet and attach photos to a specific inspection step. OpenGov’s software enables inspectors to see what previous inspections have been conducted at a site as well as any flags or code violations specific to a property they’re reviewing. Thus, if there is a flag that denotes a safety risk, the inspector knows of it and can avoid it or prepare accordingly.
The city of Danbury, Connecticut, appreciates this capability of OpenGov as well as how the platform has created efficient, robust workflows for their permitting operations.
An Easy Permitting Process Encourages Citizen and Contractor Compliance with Permitting Procedures
While having the right workflow helps you fulfill your building permitting and inspection responsibilities, the building safety within your community also depends upon citizens and contractors actually seeking appropriate permits when building or remodeling homes and buildings.
It’s unfortunate that, in many communities, contractors view the permitting process as a hassle. This creates significant safety risks. Homeowners also sometimes avoid seeking a permit because of their confusion over requirements and procedures.
How can you combat this?
First, institute a permitting process that is extremely convenient and user friendly.
Second, let your community and contractors know about your requirements and how easy it is to obtain a permit.
With the OpenGov Citizen Services software, your community gains a very easy and clear online process for applying for permits – as well as clear information about requirements.
For example, the customer service portal has an intake survey that guides applicants through a short questionnaire and generates a custom checklist of necessary forms and fees. Applicants can then submit applications, pay fees online, and message reviewers.
In addition, customers get automatic email notifications of any activity on their application, reducing the volume of status inquiries that your staff receive. Customers can also request specific dates for their inspection.
These innovations encourage compliance with permitting requirements and thereby promote building safety within your community. In addition, an efficient, clear, and easy permitting system encourages developers to invest in your community.
East Providence, Rhode Island, discovered this benefit after implementing OpenGov. The platform’s expedited permitting experience attracted developers to build in the community’s waterfront area.
Enhancing Safety with your Permitting Process
Want to see how OpenGov can help you build safeguards into your permitting workflow so that you increase building safety, facilitate inspector safety, and encourage contractor and citizen compliance with permitting requirements?
This May is likely already a busy month for your building office, as you celebrate Building Safety Month with free deck inspections, an open house, or other public-engagement events.