March 30, 2022

Obtaining Permits: The Necessary Evil of Every Project

In this episode of NS Builders Podcast, I share some tips on how to deal with the delays in permitting—which can be extremely frustrating. Cities and towns are facing staffing shortages. And some inspectors may not share your view of what constitutes a “timely turnaround.” But instead of complaining about what you can’t control, let’s talk about what you can do proactively.

When I was first starting out in business, one of the things I found most daunting was obtaining a building permit. And having to go up against the dreaded building inspector—whose sole mission in life it seemed was to deny builders the permits they so desperately needed. And if you tried to go to the Building Department, you would fail miserably in your attempt to get a permit or even get someone to see your side. 


You—and your clients—will be much happier if you set realistic expectations early on in the project. Instead of promising, “Sure, we can get permits and start building in two weeks…”, be transparent and admit that things may take longer than you’d like—“I think we should allow at least eight weeks to get the permitting done. If we get cleared to start sooner than that, Great! But, if not, at least we’re not setting ourselves up for disappointment.” 

Here’s what I do when I need to figure out just how long it might take to get a specific permit. I go to the Town Hall or Building Department and simply ask generic questions (omitting the address of the project) such as: “Can you walk me through the process? What is a typical turnaround for …? What is required for …?” Their answers give me a general timeline of how long it will take to get a permit under normal conditions and what might delay an approval. And they may tell me who I will also need to talk to—the Fire Department, the Board of Health to make sure there is an approved septic design, or Conservation to make sure the project isn’t triggering any conservation issues. This information is extremely helpful in setting realistic expectations and removing some of the guesswork. 


When I say you want to start having these conversations with the Building Department and your client early, I mean EARLY. As in, six to 12 months in advance. Maybe even before we have a preconstruction agreement or contract. Why? Because if there is going to be a significant delay for whatever reason, we want to know that immediately. This will affect all project deliverables.  

When you do face a delay, use the time wisely in planning, design, etc. Don’t waste valuable hours lamenting over why a particular town has a specific rule that just screwed up your delivery date. This is one area you can’t control; accept it and move on.  

So early on, get the entire team together—the architect, your building team, the homeowner—and then ask the right people the right questions. Try to get an answer on when permits might be acquired. Then work behind the scenes preparing to get a contract signed, materials ordered, etc., so that you are ready to hit the ground running once those permits come in. Keep everyone in the loop and updated regularly. 

Be professional and kind in your conversations with the building inspector (he’s really not that scary…). And be proactive in obtaining permits. By doing so, you can minimize the frustration and disappointment that often comes with obtaining permits.     

It’s time to discover what NS Builders can intentionally design and build for you! Contact us today to get started on your custom dream home. Together, we can make it happen. 

—Nick Schiffer


More News

March 28, 2024

How To Make the Most Out of Your Home Rdenovation Wishlist

View More
March 28, 2024

Answering Your FAQs About Custom Home Building

View More
April 27, 2023

Quincy Cottage Renovation—New Windows, Roof and Upgraded Electrical Service

View More