Many projects involve approvals from a number of government agencies. These approvals are often required prior to an application for building permit is even considered. Local Municipalities will often provide direction as to what approvals are required based on the location of the project and what agencies may be involved. Larger projects are usually subject to a formal Site Plan Approval process identifying all levels of approval whereas smaller projects may only include parties within the local Municipality (eg. planning, engineering, building & fire departments). Outside agencies such as environmental (eg. conservation authorities), regional authorities, government appointed agencies (Niagara Escarpment Commission), provincial ministries or other legislation (eg. Oak Ridges Moraine) administered by the local Municipality may have a significant impact on your project timelines.
• Preliminary Project Review:
At JWAI we attempt establish early on what approvals may be necessary in order that our clients are fully aware of 'what lies ahead'. Early consultation with the local Municipality can prove beneficial if, after an initial investigation, concerns arise regarding the project in question. Some Municipalities have a formal 'preliminary review' consultation process which can be utilized whereas others may welcome an initial meeting if an appointment is made in advance. At JWAI we find that obtaining feedback from those involved in the approval process (whether by phone, online or in person) often proves valuable in determining how quickly the project will move forward.
• Progress Submissions:
If it is established that multiple levels of approval are necessary, this can be implemented as soon as the initial design phase begins. For example, if an approval agency is related specifically to site development issues, submissions can often be made once a proper Site Plan has been prepared and basic conceptual design drawings are produced. Conceptual work can then continue to move forward while the submission is being reviewed/approved, helping to streamline the overall project progress. The same holds true for such things as Minor Variances (a request for site specific revisions to the local by-law) and Zoning amendments. The intent is to advance the project while approvals are being obtained whenever possible. In certain cases the approvals process may involve slowing the project if there is concern as to whether the submission may involve significant revisions or if receiving approval is in doubt.
• Preparation of Drawings for Permit Submission:
On most projects, once the conceptual design has been completed the production of 'working drawings' begins. These are the technical drawings which are produced for three purposes: submission for building permit, for pricing and for construction. The application for building permit is generally made once the technical drawings have reached a level of completeness where all information which is pertinent to the Municipality has been included (80% complete is a common benchmark). This also saves time in the overall project schedule. While the submission is being reviewed, final coordination and additional details can be completed in preparation for construction. While the building permit documents are understood to be complete at the time of submission, Municipalities often provide comments upon review which may need further coordination and/or submission of additional information if it is requested. While time limits exist for Municipalities to review and issue permits, if the information submitted is deemed incomplete by the Municipality this requirement may no longer apply and the Permit issuance may now relate to the current workload at the local Building Department. Most Municipalities make an effort to issue permits (for smaller projects) with minimal delay, and approvals time can be counted in weeks vs. months, although exceptions do exist.