How do you get a permit in Miami? You don’t!
All kidding aside, the permitting process is an important and often misunderstood part of the construction process. Commercial and public projects are usually well familiar with the process, time and cost; but most home and small business owners are not.
Allow me to shed some light on the process here in the South of Florida. Florida has one of the most stringent building codes (Florida Building Code, revised every 3 years) in the country, and we have an enormous amount of permit categories (New Construction, Renovations, Doors and Windows, Exterior Painting, etc…). To make things worse, Miami-Dade County has what is called the “Miami-Dade Product Approval Process”, which tests all exterior components to withstand impact of 146 mph winds and will issue a NOA (Notice of Acceptance) for the products that we can use in this area. Doors, windows, skylights, roof tiles… all need one…
Although the code legally allows each homeowner to get their own permit and built their own house, this is not recommended (if you are reading this, that generally indicates that you do not have enough knowledge to built your own project and deal with all the liabilities that come with it; especially in South Florida.
The process should start with an Architect, not a contractor. Your Architect will assist to create the appropriate program for your project and together with the applicable engineers, create a set of Construction Documents and calculations. (On a side note: this set will best reflect what you will need for your project as well as serve as the guideline for the contractor to do so in the most appropriate manner. The value of an Architect will be discussed elsewhere).
At this time the plans may be submitted by a Contractor (or an Owner-Builder, as noted above; not a good idea) to the building department. Most cities have their own building department, so submittal must be made within the city where the project is located. If the project is located in Miami Dade County, it will be submitted to the Miami Dade Building Department.
Along with the plans and calculations, a permit application must be submitted. This document generally must be signed and notarized by the owner and the Contractor. Some departments now require digital submittals as well.
Once the plans are submitted, they will be reviewed by the applicable disciplines for code compliance. These include but are not limited to: Zoning, Public Works, Planning, Building, Structural, Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical, Fire and DERM. Upon submitting the project for permit, the necessary disciplines will be selected by the city.
If any reviewer has a question or comment about what was submitted on the plans, the Architect and engineers can either meet the reviewer (generally if they disagree with the comment) or supply the requested information and resubmit the plans.
After all disciplines in the building department have reviewed and are satisfied with the plans, a final fee must be paid and the permit is issued.
At this time construction may begin (legally).
During construction, the city will send a number of inspectors (selected similarly as the disciplines that reviewed the plans), to ensure that what was permitted on the plans is indeed built in the field.
Once construction is complete and all final inspections have been accepted, the permit will be closed out with the department, by the Contractor… and you have legally completed your project.
A note of caution: looking at the above outline may shock any owner wanting to do a project on their home/small business or even built a new home. Anyone who chooses not to do the above and receives a violation (there are people that ensure “code compliance” driving around every day) will have to go through the process anyway, correct anything that does not comply with code (thus was not approved in the plan review portion) AND must pay a fine.
The above process is a general outline and may vary depending on your particular project and the municipality that your project is located in. It is strongly advised to consult and select a licensed Architect and Contractor to make the process as smooth as possible.
VALUE is getting the most for your money of what you actually want! NOT getting the most stuff at the cheapest price.