Technology's Role in Efficient Building Permitting

April 26, 2022

Technology's Role in Efficient Building Permitting

Government officials are weathering the housing affordability crisis in a number of creative ways, but they’re feeling the crunch—especially those who haven’t made successful transitions to online permitting systems. In many cases, these governments face public scrutiny and backlash for long wait times due to nonexistent or poorly designed building permit software. 

Permitting inefficiencies can lead to more than frustration and negative press. Over time, delays may threaten the health of local communities and economies by contributing to:

Higher housing costs. Permitting delays mean fewer new housing units are constructed, fueling fierce competition for existing buildings. In Canada, a study found that delaying the building permitting process by six months cut new housing growth in half, contributing to skyrocketing rents and real estate prices.

Struggling businesses. Small businesses, already grappling with high turnover and shipping delays, cannot afford the additional carrying costs that come with permitting and licensing delays. Slower wait times mean new businesses take longer to open—which translates to less money flowing through the local economy. When businesses do open, they may have less cash flow and fewer staff to carry them through their first critical years of operation.

Deterred investment. Developers can ill afford to wait months or even years to start construction on the land they’ve acquired. The longer their project sits idle, the harder it is to overcome the mounting startup costs of property taxes, equipment rentals, and staff wages. Once developers catch wind that a city or county’s building permitting process is inefficient, they often look elsewhere.

Discouraged employees. The public backlash and economic fallout from permit inefficiencies is just as aggravating for government employees, who are buried under stacks of paper while they field mounting customer inquiries and complaints. 

All told, the costs of a lengthy government permitting process add up to more than any government can afford to pay.

How Building Permit Software Transforms the Permitting Process

The good news is that more and more cities and counties are turning to high-performing building permit software to save money and reduce headaches, while boosting the wellbeing of their communities.

The right building permitting solution can reduce permit issuance time by 50% or more. This is especially true when you opt for a system that is easy to use—and just as easy to reconfigure as permitting requirements and zoning regulations change

Each system will work differently, but whichever system you select should set up staff and applicants for success. Your city’s permitting software solution should always:

  • Improve applicant satisfaction;
  • Reduce error-filled applications;
  • Enhance communication between staff and applicants;
  • Remove the need for additional calls and emails;
  • Heighten transparency as permits move through the process;
  • Make life easier for city employees, from customer support staff to IT;
  • Eliminate duplicative data entry;
  • Simplify data management and record-keeping; and
  • Provide real-time reports and dashboards to guide budgeting and decision-making; 
  • Dramatically cut down permit issuance wait times; and
  • More must-haves you can learn about in this permit software buyers guide.

How does permitting software cut wait times and improve satisfaction so dramatically? Through action-based triggers that automatically notify staff and applicants of key milestones during the permitting process. The software should automate all the rest—no more retyping applications or struggling to decipher the name of a business. Reduce administrative time and get everyone the answers they need, sooner and more accurately.

An online portal for applicants sets the right tone by providing autonomy, transparency, and equity to customers every step of the way, from application through tracking and payment. There’s no need to come to the office or print off documents, and applicants can do everything in their own time.

Efficient building permitting systems should also improve collaboration between all stakeholders involved in each project—including applicants, staff, and developers—through a central access point for all relevant information and submissions. Each stakeholder should be able to complete every step in the process online.

For building officials and inspectors, some permitting software also includes mobile inspection capabilities. This allows for real-time data input from the field and GIS integration to determine the best daily inspection route. 

For chief building officials, permitting managers, and other executives, permitting software can offer a bird’s eye view of department performance through dynamic dashboards and reports. For IT and finance teams, the software should process payments online, allow easy management of revenue, and sync with ERP systems.  And for staff, automated emails and notices notify customers that permits are expired and immediate action is required.

For teams who already have a good idea of how to optimize their permitting workflow, you should look for software that lets teams easily customize the system. Clariti, for instance, empowers customers to make changes to the system without needing to be an expert in coding. Just click on the widget you need to customize, and you’ll be walked through how to update it across the entire system.

Making the Case to Implement Building Permit Software

Efficient permitting processes can help communities thrive, and cities remain livable, particularly as we continue to contend with housing affordability. When building permits are approved faster, development will increase, more businesses will open, and employment will grow. 

Be sure to look for a software system with all the features that contribute to shorter wait times—not to mention a great track record with other cities and clients. Taking the time to really investigate your options will help ensure a great return on investment for you and your city, so that you can invest more effort and resources toward the challenges and solutions that matter most to your community.

Interested to learn more about building permit software and how it could support your permitting programs? Check out Clariti's easy-to-use government building permitting solution that’s highly configurable and quick-to-implement.


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