Here’s my top 10 list:
1. Integrity/professionalism – the last thing you want is an expediter cutting corners and putting your project in jeopardy, or making you look bad. If you aren’t comfortable taking your expediter to an important project meeting, you are using the wrong expediter.
2. Systematic – the easiest way to reduce building permit durations is to produce flawless, mistake-free submittals. The only way to do that on a consistent basis is to have a systematic process. At Burnham we use a Siebel based project management system to assist in systematizing our process. It’s a great tool, and especially helpful with large retail rollouts.
3. Proactive – the most important part of any permit submittal is the pre-submittal phase – where you set the project up for success. Identifying potential impediments and devising solutions is the essence of value added permit expediting.
4. Knowledgeable of municipal policies/procedures – helping members of the construction team formulate an accurate time schedule, based on recent experience, is often as valuable as the actual permit processing. Unrealistic construction schedules can lead to significant cost overuns. Identifying all required approvals and prerequisite approvals is key in formulating accurate time schedules. Intricate knowledge of municipal fee calculations can also help expediters ensure customers don’t pay improperly assessed municipal fees.
5. Tenacious, but tactful – project team members don’t always like being pestered about outstanding submittal requirements, but if someone isn’t pushing days can turn into weeks. Similarly, it takes a certain diplomatic quality to constantly follow up on permit status with examiners and municipal officials. Pushing too hard can produce opposite than intended results.
6. Attention to detail – a submittal is only as strong as its weakest link. Checking the wrong box, or transposing numbers, can be the difference between corrections and permit issuance. Having a fellow project manager conduct a quality control review of the paperwork prior to submittal is a useful procedure to help reduce discrepancies.
7. Design/construction experience – having strong knowledge of the design/construction process is immensely helpful for permit expediters. Some of our best project managers are straight from the trades.
8. Code Consulting capability – building permits have an administrative and technical component. Having an experienced code consultant on staff can be invaluable when faced with technical impediments. It’s even more critical in cities with their own building codes, like Chicago and New York.
9. Credibility – municipal staff and examiners like to deal with people who know the process, and have their act together. It makes their job easier. Permit expediters who consistently demonstrate expertise build up credibility and represent the construction team more effectively.
10. LEED expertise – sustainable construction is here to stay; having personnel knowledgeable in LEED certification and other sustainable trends is becoming more important than ever before.