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Building Permit Approval Process

Often, it’s a difficult matter to attain a permit in California. If you’ve been through the process a few times, you might be considered an expert by now. Once you get it down, it does become easier. On the other hand, what if you’ve never done it before or haven’t done it in a couple of years? What if the building department declines your permit? BarrierEnergy will answer these questions and more. Certainly, the construction industry is changing fast. We are here to help you keep up with how to get building plan approval.

First of all, this is not going to be something you can do on your own. Unless, of course, you are an architect/engineer/title 24 consultant all in one. You’re going to need to build a strong team around professionals who are responsive to you. Let’s have a look at the players in this operation. The architect is responsible for designing the building and drafting a set of plans. You may need additional specialists in that field, such as landscape architects and planning consultants. Typically, the architect hires a Title 24 specialist. The Title 24 Consultant completes the energy calculations to get the plans in compliance with Energy Codes. Lastly, engineers are the final component of the planning process. An engineer links scientific and mathematical principles to design technical systems and structures. Some types of engineers you may need would be civil, mechanical, and structural.

How to get Building Plan Approval on the First Try

Before you submit your plans you should contact your local building department to make sure you’ve met the required checklist on the submittal packet. Avoid the back and forth of re-submitting which will only waste more of your time. Remember, your time is money! Usually, the basic core requirements will be the same no matter where you are located:

1) Have an inspector sign off each pre-inspection on the inspection record sheet.
2) Fill out the building permit application form.
3) Pay submission fees.
4) Complete plan sheets through a licensed architect. Plans should have a title block with the address, homeowners’ and planners’ names, and contact information. In order to pass, they’ll need to be stamped and signed.
5) Include a Title 24 Energy Code Document. The professional responsible must sign these calculations.
6) Attach the Mandatory Measures Summary (MF1R). This is a pre-filled set of codes that depends on the type of construction and year proposed.

Keep in mind, that you’ll have to submit revisions for any work that goes outside the scope of your original permit. Then, you’d need to include a reference to the original permit number. A design professional must sign and stamp alterations as well. 

Existing Conditions Report

One option to help get your plans approved is an Existing Conditions Report (CF3R-EXC). BarrierEnergy has coined this service as our “Pre-HERS package”. Only a licensed HERS Rater can fill out this form, and it only applies to alterations. An Existing Conditions Report assists with plan approval by showing the Building Department how alterations will improve the property in question. Particularly, they are concerned with seeing enhancements in the energy efficiency of the building. 

Evidently, a Rater will inspect and take note of all the existing features’ efficiencies. This is summarized into a concise report so the Building Department can compare it to the energy calculations in the submitted Title 24 Report.  

A Shortcut to Approval!

With Santa Barbara’s Smart Build (SB2) Program, you can now get the County to approve your project faster than other homes! That’s right, you can cut in line to reduce your wait time by as much as 50%. The stipulation for this program is that your project must exceed Title 24 standards. If you exceed Title 24 energy standards by 30% the County will offer free consultation, cut your plan check fee in half, and provide expedited service. Plus, if you meet Zero Net requirements, you can receive an honorable mention from the County Board of Supervisors. That will look great on your resume! Make sure you meet their checklist in order to participate.

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