Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Home renovation and the permit and Plan review process FAQ's !

Lakewood is known as “City of Beautiful Homes.” That’s by design, not by accident.
We have a total of 30,000 housing units citywide including 12,700 one- or two-family homes. Comprehensive housing survey and aggressive code enforcement,  the city of Lakewood is doing its part, continuing our Housing Forward initiative.

It’s been a while since my last blog post, and with this year’s unseasonably warmer weather, it seems fitting to re-launch this method of communication with some good information about ways  our residents can keep their housing stock beautiful. 

Purpose of Building & Housing Department.
The building and Housing Department resides within the Department of Public Safety. It does so for a reason. The strength and effectiveness of this department has increased significantly through investment in mobile technology allowing for real-time connectivity to inspection data in the field. This is vastly improved productivity of our code compliance efforts. Additionally, four new positions have been added in the past five years to bolster our inspection capacity. 

When do I need a permit?
Many home improvement projects require a permit.  When in doubt whether a permit is required, check  under the “inspecting, preventing, assisting" tab for  list of required permits or contact the building department. Or, just click here.

Purpose of the permit
The purpose of the permit is document the nature and extent of the work to be performed. It details who will be doing the work, and creates a document to record all subsequent inspections and compliance work. The goal of the inspections is to ensure that the work is performed to a minimum state building code standard. This standard ensures health, safety, and welfare. Welfare is a basic quality of durability and design. All of this effort is focused on making sure the homeowners of Lakewood get what they are paying for.

When is a plan review required?
A key element of the permit process is the plan review. Ohio building codes were expanded in 2011 to require a plan and its review for every permit. This additional step has been a source of angst for many jobs that did not require a plan prior to 2011.

Purpose of the Plan review
The purpose of Plan Review is to make sure safety, health, and quality are achieved. A good plan, while taking more time in the front end of the building cycle, will shorten the total time and reduce the need for re-work, extra cost and delays. The primary focus of the reviews is the systems: electrical, heating, plumbing and structural design. Other design elements include entrance and exit safety in case of fire. This includes doors and windows. 

How long does it take for a Plan Review?
Ohio law allows for up to 30 days for a plan review. As a practical matter, average turnaround time is two weeks. The best way to obtain timely permits requiring plan reviews is to submit a complete and clear plan that meets state standards. Tardy applications for permits, coupled with incomplete plans are the leading cause of delays. The building department is often the scapegoat for many of these delays that are filed late or filed with incomplete plans. 

Questions about my permit and plan Review?
When in doubt about the status of a plan or permit, please call the building department directly at 216-529-6270, email the department at   or just stop by the Building Department located on the basement floor in City Hall. Hours are Monday thru Friday 8:30AM- 4PM. 

We need more building inspectors!
Lakewood has experienced over $10 million dollars in home improvements each of the past four years. This trends looks to continue in a very busy 2017. A key challenge for building departments across the region is a shortage of qualified building inspectors. Contractor experience plus state licenses for various categories such as plumbing, and electrical certifications are required. The City of Lakewood will work with qualified applicants who have the experience but lack the certifications.  We currently have one open position for a licensed inspector and are having difficulty finding qualified applicants. Pass along the word!

There is no doubt that preserving, protecting, and enhancing Lakewood’s second century housing stock is the key to our continued vitality.