• PreQualification

    PreQualification is tailoring the permit process to the applicant.  Applicants who are prequalfied because of training and/or experienced who prepare document and design packages that are better organized, more complete, and include information which facilitates quick understanding and review, have access to a plan check process from those applicants who are not pre-qualified.

    PreQualification can be based on license status; experience, or training.  There is tremendous potential in the area of PreQualification as this means of streamlining has not been well used or considered.
    region builders at AIACV (Large)b

    One method of creating a PreQualification based program:  An AIA Component works with local regional juridictions to develop a series of classes that cover preparation of documents in accordance with a well developed standard; example standards this program from Florida.  The Classes would be a win – win: a source of non-dues revenue to the component; a competitive advantage for those architects willing to invest the time and money in training; and improved economic conditions in the community resulting from more efficient and effective permit processes.

    Florida Technical Guides is an excellent and comprehensive set of tools for establishing permit document packages that are easy to plan check.


    One thought on “PreQualification”

    1. mfmalinowskiPost author
      Outline of a PreQualification Program• A working group (with members from both design and regulatory professionals) is created to vet and adopt a set of document content and organization standards for an initial project type (such as small commercial building alteration; or tenant improvements).
      • The working group enlists AIA Austin to put a training program together to cover the use of the standards. This program could become a non-dues revenue source for the component.
      • Participants are trained and tested; those passing the program would be added to a list of ‘pre-qualified professionals’.
      • Plans prepared by ‘pre-qualified professionals’ according to the adopted standards (perhaps indicated by a symbol added to the cover sheet) would save time and money for the jurisdiction; the jurisdiction would in turn create a separate ‘track’ for plan review of these packages. The participating design professional realizes a significant time savings in the permit process.
      • There would be quality control feedback loop for both program refinement and development, and also to insure that ‘pre qualified professionals’ continue to adhere to program standards (or face loss of eligibility).If the beta program proved successful, it could be expanded to additional project types.

      Properly implemented, there is the potential for such a program to be a win-win, with efficiency and effectiveness benefits for ‘both sides of the counter’.

      With plans prepared in a consistent format to make them more clear and easy to review for the permit processing professionals, the resulting increased efficiency could result in time savings for participating professionals.

      A program along these lines is being developed in the Sacramento Region as a cooperative effort involving six different jurisdictions; and it is being evaluated by AIA Austin following a presentation and workshop there by MFMalinowski AIA in November of 2014

  • Electronic Plan Check

    DWF vs PDF
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    Electronic Plan Check

    A traditional permit process involves submitting paper copies of plans.  When ‘parallell’ tracking is used, where multiple disciplines review plans simultaneously (instead of sequentially) a separate full set of plans is normally required for each reviewing entity or discipline, such as life safety, electrical, mechanical, fire sprinklers, civil, etc.  In larger jurisdictions this can mean 10 sets of plans for each review cycle, which involves thousands of sheets of paper.  Normally as the correction cycles proceed, much or all of this paper ends up as waste, as revised plans supercede previous submittals.  Some jurisdictions do not permit just changed sheets to be submitted; sometimes so many sheets are affected by a revision that full sets must be duplicated, at considerable expense.

    In the electronic plan check process, the submittal is a digital version of the drawings, either in virtual form (such as an upload to an FTP site) or in physical form (such as a burned dvd).  The jurisdiction distributes the electronic file to multiple plan reviewers who can work simultaneously, and comments are created in electronic form, including potential ‘red marks’ or notations in the electronic files to help the plan preparer understand the concern or question.

    Plan reviewers need large monitors to be able to effectively ‘flip back and forth’ though plan sets electronically; and often fast computers with large memory is also required to minimize delay in accessing the information.  Large plan sets and dense sheets can bog down systems even with fast processors.

    When expedited plan review is used that requires plan reviewers to work overtime at home, electronic plan review may not work as the equipment would ordinarily not be available.  Thus, in certain jurisdictions the fastest available permit processing excludes the use of electronic plan submittals.

    PDF’s are often used as a format for submitted documents; but all pdf’s are not the same.  Other formats can be used such as DWF.  See comparison here: https://www.cadmasters.com/class/dwfvspdf.htm and here: http://dwf.blogs.com/beyond_the_paper/2006/06/comparison_of_d.html

    DWF vs PDF

    Comments on electronic plan check?

    Comments PDF programs and approaches?

    Have you been required to use particular software, and arrange pdf’s in a particular format?

    How did the electronic review affect the time for permit processing?

    One thought on “Electronic Plan Check”

    1. DEW
      The Diamond Age of Architecture

      It is the best of times – ever!

      Mankind is making another giant leap for the betterment of human civilization, embracing profoundly efficient collaboration methods and technologies, to share in the ever-increasing wealth of knowledge gained from the proliferation of information generated from every source, to transform the built environment; and architects are leading the way.

      Ulysses Smart, AIA and the firm of U. Smart Architects, (USA) collaborating with every stakeholder involved, has successfully accomplished an unprecedented feat; much like many of the architecture firms implementing the Novus Modus Operandi de Jour; utilizing computers equipped with microscopic columns of flawless diamonds to process infinite points of data conveyed on ultra-high frequencies of pulsating laser light, empowering humanity to share information like never before.

      USA is reaping benefits of new revenue streams made possible from the Architects Information Exchange (A[I]A-X), the cache where information on Real Property and associated stakeholders are forever linked, facilitating the ultimate efficiency in all aspects of design, construction, and management by making accessible via the Internet CAD and BIM files of every project, to improve upon the work of other’s and truly “design a better world” – together.

      As a result of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) repositioning effort initiated 20 years ago, the Architects’ role has solidified as the stewards of the built environment information, and thus “facilitators of efficiency”; to wit, every AECOM professional, organization, and all those in the trades who rely upon, generate and share information about Real Property and its attributes (bim), are joining the AIA as members or allied members and granted access to the Real Property Information Network (RPIN) platform that has redefined the rules of collaboration.

      The Documentation of Existing Buildings Initiative (DEBI), a global endeavor for preparedness is nearly complete; three-dimensional laser scans of every structure, as-built models, drawings, sketches, notes, etc., etc., and identification of stakeholders who provision access to their digital information, are shared among members within the A[I]A-X; abiding by newly agreed upon copyright laws, errors and omissions liability, and other legal issues regarding Digital Rights Management (DRM), including the reuse and improvement of architect submitted electronic building permit files.

      Tracking the history in the virtual representation documentation of the built environment at each location and automating the process to perpetually compensate the producers of the work, as digital files are shared with every subsequent design reuse, best practices are naturally emerging and the construction industry is thriving.

      Architects working together to lead by making accessible their digital work for others to build upon and improve, are perceived by all humanity as instrumental for the immense value gained from efficiency due to their innovations in collaboration, stewardship of the built environment information, and mastery of advanced digital technologies and new super-materials; as such, USA has earned the first “Architects’ cut”, a residual income fee paid to architects at the transfer of any Real Property they have worked on – it is a great day to be an architect!

  • Professional Certification

    Professional Certification Programs are not new. Mike in a meeting They have been used successfully in New York City for decades, on many thousands of projects.  In some jurisdictionsProfessional Certification is limited to very simple tenant improvement plans.  In many cases these programs are optional; and design professionals can choose whether this is an appropriate strategy on a case by case basis.  In other juridictions, Professional Certification is used for many if not most permit processes (Hawaii as I understand it is an example of this; but the Certification is often performed by a licensed professional selected by the plan preparer).

    Many jurisdictions do not support any level of Professional certification.  In some jurisdictions there may be political barriers to certification; there may also be concerns about liability on the part of the certifying professional, as the legal immunities that are associated with individuals who perform plan review for jurisdictions may not extend to the person certifying the plans.

    Note that these programs are often called “Self Certification’, but here the more broad term “Professional Certification” is used, as it includes the potential of peer review.

    Have you experienced the option of ‘professional certification’?

    If you had the option but didn’t use it, what were the reasons?

    If you have used Professional or Self Certification, what was your experience?

    What are the characteristics of programs that work; and those that do not?AIAAustin Self Certification

  • Pre-Application Meetings

    PreApplication meetings can result in much greater efficiency for all parties involved: Design Professionals as well as the Builidng Department.20130211_162345 (Large)


    At it’s best, PreApplication Meeting bring to light issues and concerns early, and help avoid a ‘gotcha’ syndrome where issues come to light only after huge investments in time and money as plans are developed in detail.

    Some locales provide this as a service at no additional cost. Some charge special fees.  Some jurisdictions do not choose to invest the ‘up front’ time, which is to the detriment of all parties when things get sticky late in the game.


    Comments: what works, what doesn’t

    What is important to success of a pre-app meeting?

    What is a reasonable cost for pre-app meetings?

    One thought on “Pre-Application Meetings”

    1. mfmalinowskiPost author
      An essential tool to build trust and smooth out the rough edges of plan review. Many jurisdictions see the savings on their end and offer this service – sometimes at no charge. A study by Charlotte/Mecklenberg County found a 25% SAVINGS in staff time when projects took advantage of the free pre-application process there. These savings more than justify the investment in providing this service.