Press Release

New pre-plan check station will increase efficiency when getting building permits

Starting July 1, the Department of Building Inspection will sort in-house review permit applications by expected review times and offer small to medium-sized projects a more efficient review process.

Starting July 1, customers submitting an in-house review project will start at the new Pre-Plan Check Station where plan reviewers will review the project plans. 

They will:

  1. Make sure the plans are complete and applications include all required documents
  2. Estimate the plan review time needed for the project

This change will clarify and simplify the process for the applicant and, most importantly, allow smaller and medium-sized in-house review projects to get their permit application reviewed faster. 

New plan check categories

Currently, DBI has two categories for plan review—Over-the-Counter and in-house review.  For a project to qualify for Over-the-Counter review, the plan review must be an hour or less at each plan review station.  

Under our new Pre-Plan Check system launching on July 1, we will add two new plan check categories for small to medium-sized projects that don’t qualify for Over-the Counter review, but could be reviewed in one day.  

  • Over-the-Counter Level 1: Less than 1 hour for plan review
  • In-House Level 2: 1 to 4 hours for plan review
  • In-House Level 3: 4 to 8 hours for plan review
  • In-House Level 4: More than 8 hours for plan review

These new categories will speed up the small to medium-sized projects that can be reviewed in a day and allow those projects to move more efficiently through our system.  

New central queue

The new system also changes the way DBI assigns projects to plan reviewers.  

Under the current system, we assign projects to plan reviewers as they come in—so if a plan reviewer has a large workload or goes on vacation, customers wait longer for plan review. 

Under our new system launching on July 1, projects will go into a central queue and will be assigned to plan reviewers on a weekly basis.  

For customers, it means that once your project is assigned to a plan reviewer, you can expect your project to be reviewed in the next few business days.  We anticipate that this streamlined process will provide a better customer experience and allow us to manage our resources so we can serve customers better.

Additional changes

The new system also establishes a minimum 20 business day and maximum 40-business day target for DBI to respond to the application with comments for the applicant to clarify or address. Other agencies will attempt to match these turnaround thresholds, but may have exceptions.

  • Over-the-Counter: same day review
  • In-House Level 2: 20 days
  • In-House Level 3: 30 days
  • In-House Level 4: 40 days

Further, to ensure clear communication and to keep projects moving, DBI staff comments that cannot be or are not addressed with two resubmittals (ie: resubmitting revised plans), will be automatically escalated to a DBI plan check supervisor. Should a project have unresolved comments after four resubmittals, the project will automatically be escalated to the Deputy Director of Permit Services.

On the horizon

These changes coming on July 1 are the first phase in DBI’s Pre-Plan Check operational improvements. 

In the coming weeks, we’ll also implement a priority process for re-checks and a new section on our website for the central queue, so that customers can see where they are on the list and can anticipate when their plan review will begin.