New Efficiency Plans for the Department of Buildings

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

On Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a new plan for the Department of Buildings to increase efficiency when attaining building permits, and by decreasing time it takes to get permits, also decrease the number of taxpayer dollars the Department spends.

“We are taking much-needed steps to increase efficiency and decrease the time it takes developers to obtain a building permit in the City of Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel.

This process will now include the “E-Plan,” a new review system which enables architects to submit their plans to City Hall electronically, eliminating the need for paper plans. The “E-Plan” will also plan examiners such as plumbing and electrical reviewers to have access to plans simultaneously. They can also now approve drawings or send in suggestions to architects and engineers more quickly. In addition, stakeholders—including the building owners—can receive an instant notification of a change in a permit’s status or the completion of a review.

In 2010, the Department of Buildings spent almost $300,000 on projects that were eventually abandoned. Not only was money lost, but so was time as the abandoned projects caused delays in issuing permits to other applicants. So now the Department of Buildings is making two more changes to the “E-Plan”—requiring a 50 percent deposit on estimated permit fees up front and giving architects and engineers less than 20 days to resubmit any corrections. The deposit especially will help the Department of Buildings recover the costs of examining plans that are reviewed but not picked up, corrected or permitted.

The “E-Plan” is not the only change. More than 5,000 projects a year will be required to go through the Certified Plan Corrections (CPC) process beginning on September 1. CPC should cut down time even more by requiring architects to submit affidavits certifying that plans have been revised to address any issues that reviewers have noted. Before, architects had to have multiple meetings with multiple plan reviews, and all of them separate. This new implementation will streamline the process, and the Department of Buildings has consequently offered CPC as an option for more than five years, although only a small percentage of projects have used the program so far.

Anyone curious about the Department of Buildings’ turnaround time can view the Performance Metric posted online by the Emanuel Administration on Wednesday. According to this data, the Department of Buildings has already exceeded its July performance goals.

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