Navigating the building permit application process is nothing short of a headache. Every jurisdiction has its own unique rules and procedures, which means the permitting process takes forever.
But working with a permit expediter can speed up that painstaking process and take the extra work off your plate. Keep reading to learn what a permit expediter is and the benefits of hiring one.
What is a permit expediter?
A permit expediter is someone who helps you obtain a building permit and navigate the permit process from start to finish. Hiring a permit expediter may help you avoid costly delays caused by mistakes in paperwork, filing, or construction plans.
Experienced permit expediters will reduce the amount of time it takes for your building permit application to be processed and approved. As a result, you’ll be able to start your project sooner.
An experienced permit expediter has:
- A solid understanding of local building codes and permit requirements.
- Connections with local professionals and building department officials who oversee permitting.
- Specialization in obtaining permits for the type of project you bring them.
What is a permit runner?
A permit runner is essentially the same thing as a permit expediter — someone who helps you prepare and submit a building permit application. However, some may define the role of a permit runner as focused solely or primarily on the actual application submittal process, while a permit expediter has the extensive local knowledge of how to most efficiently navigate the permitting process in a given jurisdiction.
Permit runners often work solo operating their own expediting business, but some work as employees at construction companies.
What does a permit expediter do?
A building permit expediter’s job is to prepare, submit, and track your building or construction permit application. Ultimately, they take the legwork of applying for a permit off your plate.
A permit expediter’s services include:
- Researching local zoning laws, building codes, and permit application procedures.
- Reviewing construction drawings and development plans to ensure they adhere to city ordinances and codes.
- Identifying any mistakes in your application before submitting.
- Conducting pre-submission reviews with the city if required or as needed.
Do I need a permit expediter?
No, you aren’t required to work with a permit expediter, but it is a wise choice to save you time and ensure your project progresses as smoothly as possible.
Tip: Hire a construction permit expediter as early as possible in the project. That way, they can anticipate and prevent potential problems.
How much does a permit expediter cost?
There is no set price for permitting services. The cost of permit expediting services depends on the complexity of the project. So ultimately, the type of permit you need and your jurisdiction’s requirements will dictate the cost of a permit expediter.
Expediters can bill:
- By the hour
- By the project
- Using a blend of the two
Tip: Make sure you get a quote from a prospective expediter before hiring them. Their quote will account for how much work your project requires based on your jurisdiction’s requirements.
Benefits of working with permit expediters
Working with a permit expediter offers many benefits compared to handling everything on your own.
The top 5 benefits of hiring a permit expediter are:
- Local knowledge
- Save time
- Take work off your plate
- Track the application status
- Get your permit faster
1. Local knowledge
There’s a good chance you don’t know all the ins and outs of the local ordinances in every city where you build. And it would be a waste of your time to spend hours familiarizing yourself with them.
Working with a permit expediter gives you immediate access to a wealth of specialized knowledge about the city, its laws, and its processes.
Plus, many building permit expediters also have relationships with key figures in the permitting process, like government officials and department employees. This can improve your chances of getting your permit approved and speed up the process.
2. Save time
Hiring a permit expediter is a great way to speed up the permitting process. They’ll be the dedicated point person for your permit application and will ensure everything is completed quickly and accurately. As a result, you’ll have more time to focus on the other aspects of your project.
3. Take work off your plate
Construction projects require extensive work and planning beyond just obtaining the permit. Hiring a permit expediter lets you take some of that tedious and time-consuming work off your own plate.
By partnering with an expediter, you won’t have to tackle difficult tasks like:
- Determining which type of permit you need and which building department will handle it.
- Researching the project.
- Preparing permit paperwork and documentation.
- Submitting the permit application.
4. Track the application status
After submitting a permit application, it’s prudent to check the status and stay in touch with the department while you wait for it to be reviewed and approved. But that’s a big time suck!
So, let your expediter spend the time and energy tracking your permit status. They can handle all the back-and-forth communication that you don’t have time for.
5. Get your permit faster
Ultimately, perhaps the biggest benefit of working with an expediter is that you will likely get your permit faster. This will empower you to start work on the project faster, which saves you money in the long run.
Downsides to working with a permit expediter
While it’s true that hiring a permit expediting service can prove fruitful, there are some potential downsides to be aware of.
Potential downsides of working with a permit expediter include:
- Unnecessary for certain projects
- Added cost
- Lack of expertise
- Limited service area
- Employee overwhelm
1. Unnecessary for certain projects
Simple, straightforward projects — especially in smaller jurisdictions — may not actually require the services of a permit expediter. For smaller projects, hiring an expediter could be overkill.
For example, projects in small municipalities likely have simpler permitting processes that don’t actually require extensive work on your part. So in these cases, it may be smarter to save your money and just handle the permit application process internally.
2. Added cost
Plain and simple, hiring a permit expediter adds an extra expense to your project. That’s why it’s smart to get a detailed quote from any expediter you’re thinking about hiring before bringing them on.
In some cases — particularly straightforward projects in smaller towns — the ROI of hiring a permit expediter may not actually pay off. Make sure you get a quote, consult your budget, and assess the scope of the permitting process before committing to an expediter.
3. Lack of expertise
Many permit expediter services are an add-on feature for a business that focuses primarily on other services. As a result, permit expediters who work for larger companies may actually lack the deep knowledge and expertise needed to tackle your unique project.
Besides building permits, they might also handle:
- Contractor licensing
- Noise variances
- Street vendor spaces
- Traffic permits/approvals
Since each of these services has unique forms, rules, and timelines to follow, the chances of finding a true permit expediter amid all these other services are slim.
What’s more, permit expediting is often assigned to junior employees who may lack the experience needed to get your building permit issued as quickly as possible.
4. Limited service area
Many permit expediters only work on projects within a certain geographic area. So, for example, a certain company could easily file all your San Francisco permits but wouldn’t be able to handle a project down the freeway in Brisbane or Daly City.
This scenario can be especially problematic for many residential and commercial contractors, as their service typically includes several cities, counties, and jurisdictional districts.
5. Employee overwhelm
When hiring an expediter, you have to be mindful of their schedule beyond your project.
New expediters can easily lose or misfile information until they become familiar with new software or programs. And overworked expediters can become so busy playing catch-up that they submit an incomplete building permit application package and delay the entire process.
Alternatively, a busy expediter may get swamped with new projects and drop the ball on your application. They might fail to contact you regarding building department feedback, needed corrections, or clarifications — and then you’ll be stuck chasing them down for updates.
What to look for when hiring a permit expediter
If you’ve decided to hire a permit expediter, don’t just go for the first person you come across. Do your due diligence to ensure you’re hiring the best one.
Here’s what to look for when hiring an expediter:
- Make sure they’re knowledgeable about the city or county's processes. Working with an expediter who understands the jurisdiction’s unique policies and procedures increases the chances of the process going smoothly.
- Choose someone with the right specialties. For example, if you need a permit to build a residential home, choose a residential permit expediter who has experience with that industry.
- Work with someone who scopes the project at the start. Choose an expediter who will do their due diligence right away and provide you with a report on how long the process will take, which applications you’ll need, and how much it’ll cost to obtain the permit.
The PermitFlow advantage
If you’re seeking the simplest and most convenient permitting process, go with PermitFlow. PermitFlow offers a favorable alternative to hiring an expediter.
With PermitFlow, you get:
- A team of local experts: Our team includes experienced architects, structural engineers, former city planners, and permit specialists with decades of collective experience. Additionally, our expertise with local municipalities ensures your building permit is issued as quickly as possible.
- Nationwide coverage: PermitFlow can help you with building permits in a single municipality or across several counties or states. So whether you're just starting or scaling your contracting business, we're here to be your partner every step of the way.
One platform to navigate the process: With the PermitFlow platform, you can easily submit, track, and pull permits from one centralized location without trying to navigate and decipher municipal websites. Plus, you can collaborate with your architects, contractors, engineers, and stakeholders using one platform to speed things up while maintaining transparency.