Building Permits: What You Need to Know

The building permit process happens after your design is finalized but before construction can begin. If you understand how the process works, you can enable your architect to file your permit quickly and correctly the first time around.

Your Architect Can Act in Your Name

The first thing you need to know about building permits is that you may never need to file one. Architects and engineers are authorized to file building permits in the name of their clients; in many states, they’re the only people allowed to make such requests. As a client, this means you don’t need to worry about anything other than approving the final design.

Designs Are Reviewed by the Local Planning Authority 

Your local planning authority is the government body that is authorized to make decisions regarding construction and development. In Georgia, the Department of Community Affairs’ Office of Planning provides comprehensive oversight for the many regional planning committees located across the state. Part of your architect’s job is knowing which planning authority to contact and how to create a building that will fit within that authority’s vision for the local community.

States Have Unique Building Codes

The building permit process allows local authorities to check designs for possible health and safety concerns. Each state government passes its own measures to decide local building codes. The Georgia State Minimum Building Standards incorporates the International Building Code. This standard has also been adopted by most jurisdictions within the United States. 

Communities Also Have Design Requirements

From shopping centers to HOAs, any building constructed within a pre-planned community must also comply with that community’s standards. Design specifications might dictate building height, walkway distances, or even the size and location of windows. These regulations are usually less strict than those imposed by the local planning authority, but they’re still an important part of the approval process.

Changes Need to Be Re-Approved

Every architect goes through a rigorous review process before designs are submitted to the local planning authority. This is because once a design has been submitted, it can’t be changed without another re-approval from all related government entities. Moving a wall or adding a window might look like a small change on paper, but it will always result in another round of signatures and filing fees. As a client, you can make the process easier by asking for any changes before your architect completes the final draft.

Working with a local architect allows you to benefit from their relationship with local planning authorities and deep familiarity with the local building code. If you’re starting a construction project in the State of Georgia, contact SEA Studios to see how we can help.