Municipal Building Department Capabilities in a New Time: ICC Survey

Jon Kovar-Tooke

Posted by Jon Kovar-Tooke

As businesses transition to working remotely by building and growing our remote capabilities, we at Burnham are curious about what this looks like on the municipal side that we work closely with every day. In my first post for Burnham, I’m highlighting the results of a survey conducted by the International Code Council last month that helped us understand how municipalities in the U.S. are working remotely and their abilities to execute inspections and issue permits. 

Survey Parameters and Respondents

Conducted: March 22 - April 1, 2020.
1,150+ respondents from all 50 U.S. states.
Jurisdictions sizes ranging from 1,000 - 4.6 million people.

Municipal Adjustments

  • 93% are still performing inspections, either remotely or in-person.  
  • 65% of respondents said that some or all employees that conduct plan review or inspections are working remotely.  
  • 26% of respondents have encountered requests for permits for temporary occupancy and/or temporary structures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plan Review: Digital vs Hardcopy

  • 66% use a combination of electronic and hard copy versions of building safety codes.
  • 7% have advanced to using all electronic.
  • 27% of respondents said their jurisdiction used only hard copies; creating version-control and accessibility issues. 
  • 23% said their employees do not have access to needed hard copy code books.  

Switching to Electronic Services

  • 60% are able to do electronic/remote plan reviews.
  • 30% do not have the capability to do any aspect of electronic/remote permitting.
  • 61% do not have the capability for electronic/remote inspections.

What can you do when you hit a permitting and inspection roadblock? Be a resource.

This Construction Dive Article summarizes a recent ICC’s Webinar on how best to approach a municipality to seek an accommodation for approval through sharing the methods and technology available to you with the municipality. An excellent example comes from DPR General Contractors out of Nashville, TN trying to mitigate the effects of a Fire Marshall who had temporarily stopped all inspections. They were able to grant access to their 360-degree project progress videos and obtain inspection approval based on them for their WeWork project. This enabled them to turn over the project and meet their deadline.

Creating awareness of different tools available, and leading with a dialog and guidance on what you are able to provide will assist not only you and your projects, but all those that come after. Working together, we can keep projects going forward and provide municipalities the tools to keep our economic progress forward. 

If you have questions, we have answers. 

Contact us anytime, we’re here to help Simply get it Done. 

Credit & Source: ICC News ReleaseICC Survey Results and Infographic

Jon Kovar-Tooke is a Business Analyst with Burnham Nationwide. With nearly a decade in the construction industry and professional background in Telecom, and IT infrastructure. 


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