Washington, DC metropolitan area is one of the busiest
areas in the nation for development and our permit process
has evolved into being one of the most complex (and sometimes
cumbersome). Nationally the basic steps are as follows:
jurisdiction requires site plan approval. A site plan
must be prepared by a certified civil engineer licensed
in the appropriate county (or city) and state. A site
plan shows the existing conditions plus the proposed
improvements - erosion controls, grading changes, site
utility connections, stormwater management, landscaping, fencing, sidewalks
and paving, etc. as well as pertinent information on
the building itself - footprint, use group and zoning.
Site plan design and preparation can take from 30 days
to six months, depending on the complexity of the project.
Once the plan has been submitted, approval usually takes
from six to twelve months. The site plan approval process
is the critical path in the development project. Many
other requirements can be satisfied while this long
lead item is in progress.
building permit is required to build the physical structure
on the site. It cannot be released prior to site plan
approval. The permit is obtained through submission
of the project's architectural, structural, mechanical
and electrical drawings, which must be prepared by registered
architects and engineers licensed to work in the appropriate
county (or city) and state. Preparation of these design
documents can take from 30 days to twelve months, depending
on the complexity of the project. Approval generally
takes half the time of site plan review (three to six
months) so often the site plan is submitted first, followed
by the building plans.
the site and building plans have been approved, bonds
must be posted before construction can begin, to ensure
that the project will not be left in a partially finished
state that could cause erosion, utility service disruptions
or life safety issues. Bonds can be in the form of cash,
letter of credit or performance and payment bonds. These
instruments take about a week to prepare and another 3 weeks
for county (or city) approval.
the appropriate county website to obtain detailed information
about obtaining permits for your project