Memo From Code Enforcement on Residential Plan Review Delays
MemoDate: June 1, 2012 To: All Residential Plan Review CustomersFrom: James N. Bartl, AIA, Director of Code EnforcementRe: Current Status of Residential Plan ReviewOn May 7 we distributed a memo advising all customers of our status in the Residential Drawing Submittal (RDS) program. This memo provides a further update, regarding where we are on RDS as of today.Current Review Turnaround Time Status:As of this morning (Friday, June 1), our status in each category is:
81 paper plans (custom or other), the longest 8 days out.69 e- plans (primarily master plans), the longest 19 days out.4 townhouse projects, the longest 13 days out.Added Staff Plan Review Resources:We are in the final stages of filling two part time plan review positions; those two resources start June 13 and will focus strictly on e-plan review.All hourly RDS plan reviewers are working overtime. In addition, we continue to receive overtime help reviewing paper plans from four field inspectors.We are also surveying selected home builders regarding their RDS anticipated volume over the next 30-60-90 days, as well as the nature of it (paper vs. E-plan), and their possible use of alternate strategies (see item 4). We hope to turn this into a rough estimate (June through September) of industry demand on RDS, which we will compare to our total available plan review resources, both full and part time.Considering Screening Drawings Before Submittal:The Department has noted a marked increase in E-plan submittals containing a high level of incorrect or incomplete information. Plan review management has talked to two local builders about this. However, if this problem persists, we will likely add a gatekeeping or coordinator temporary position to screen drawings to assure they are ready for review.The fact that we have never considered this in the 14 year history of RDS is a strong statement regarding the extensive nature of this problem, as seen through the eyes of both line staff and RDS management.Alternate permitting strategies we will offer customers:After further discussion regarding other possible ways to address this problem, we developed two alternate permitting strategies, which we are prepared to offer customers concerned with regard to RDS plan review and permitting turnaround times.Alternate A: home builders always have the option of submitting a single house plan, rather than an entire master plan, either electronically or in paper.It merits noting that the paper process is more flexible than E-Plan-NC in supporting “approved as noted” (AAN) submittals, more often leading to a permit ready set (through AAN) on cycle 1.The average 1st cycle approval rate of paper plans is 76% versus 5% for e-plans.Alternate B: this one is a tougher interim strategy, and while not ideal, we think it could be an effective option for some home builders. It would work as follows:We would complete the 1st cycle master plan review, with all red marks held inside E-Plan-NC.We would accept bulletin drawings from NC Professional Engineers to address any structural issues.The home builders would print out two sets of the cycle 1 red mark master plan set, and we would treat these plans as a custom paper plan, for permit issuance on a specified site or street address only.This would allow the master plan cycle 2 submittal to move forward separately, gaining corrections and approved status.At the same time, the affected site or street address would also gain a permit and move into construction.Other expedited review tools available:Customers should remember they also have the Residential Professional Certification Program available which leads to approval of plans on the submittal day or next day, for projects using qualified designers. A description of Residential Professional Certification Program is located HERE.Mecklenburg’s reciprocal review program with Raleigh:While Raleigh only does master plan reviews for projects under permit application, I remind customers that Mecklenburg and Raleigh have a reciprocal agreement for residential master plans reviewed electronically in the program website: http://www.E-Plan-NC.org. Consequently, if a home builder has a master plan already approved by the City of Raleigh in E-Plan-NC, under our reciprocal agreement, we will accept permit applications using that master plan number (i.e.; there is no need for re-review of that master plan set).Update on third party review contract availability:We offered this to one third-part contractor who turned it down. We are reaching out to other possible plan review vendor streams, however as of today we have no residential third-party plan review agreement in place.Even considering the impact of the additional plan review resources (noted in item 2) on our current work load, we anticipate it will take an extended period of time (perhaps 60-90 days) to move RDS review times back to the five work day turnaround goal. Know that we are focused and working diligently on mitigating the problem. We appreciate your patience as we work to get RDS plan review turnaround times back in line.Questions on the above may be directed to Tim Taylor, Manager of RTAC-CTAC, at 704-336-3835, or [email protected] note on another future alternate; in the past the Department began master plan reviews only when an actual permit is submitted. In the future, we will announce a home builder option in which we will perform the master plan review in advance of a permit application, provided the cost of the plan review is secured per a method specified by the Department. This advance payment for plan review would be credited back to the home builder on the first permits issued under that master plan number. While this does not contribute an immediate solution to our current RDS challenges, long term it will help prevent future problems.