What happens to my permit once it's submitted to Miami-Dade County?

If you have filed a permit application with the county, you may be wondering what happens next. The fact is that permit filing can be a difficult process to understand. Many people have heard of permits, but are completely blind when it comes to understanding them.

One purpose of a permit is to make sure that construction doesn’t damage your property. Let’s say you have a home and want to change the electrical system. You go to a sub-par contractor who can do it half-price without a permit. You do the work but find out a few weeks later that there are big problems with the job. A reputable contractor tells you that your sub-par worker wreaked havoc on your system and now you have to pay for total rewiring.

The cost to change your electrical system is now added to your initial cost to mess it up. This not only adds up, but it also can present a dangerous situation for you and your family. With a permit however, the plans would have been submitted and approved beforehand. You would have known the sub-par results and avoided them.

Another purpose of your permit is to protect you. Let’s say you're putting in an in-ground pool. That requires a lot of digging. You never know what is beneath the soil where your pool contractor is working. This is why a permit is critical. It can show your contractor exactly where he or she can, and cannot, dig.

Because the permit is so critical a document, it is carefully dealt with by the appropriate office. When you turn it in at the relevant municipal office, they want to ensure that it is going to follow a clear set of rules and regulations that benefit not only your purposes, but also the purposes of the community and city in which the work is to be done.

Once your permit expediter drops off your application, it is managed by a Certified Safety Code Officer, or Inspector. Their job is to make sure that all paperwork is in order and that it fits into the codes as instilled by the city, county or municipality. Speaking of paperwork—when you submit your permit application to your permit expediter, likely you also submitted supporting documentation. Things like plot plans, site plans, foundational plans, elevations, structural details, electrical and mechanical information may all be needed in some configuration.

Because of the amount of information submitted, it can take up to a few weeks for a permit to come back. The Safety Code Officer or Inspector will review information and make an on-site visit if needed. Sometimes this is needed to understand the details of the project. Or, sometimes the inspector needs to speak to the homeowner, business owner or contractor in person. This also can take time.

Once they scrutinize the information submitted and interview relevant parties if needed, then they make a decision. When that decision is made your permit is either approved, or denied. If it is approved, then you’ll get your permit back and oftentimes have to post it visibly throughout the duration of your project. If you are denied, you’ll likely understand why and can either scrap the project or rework the construction parameters.

When you submit your permit to the county, trust that they are doing their own due diligence. Whether you are submitting an application for a home remodel, or a large-scale hotel build, the inspector will work with you to make sure that your project is within code and always safe. It will take some time to get your permit back, but you can rest assured that your work follows all current legal requirements for a build.