What Is a Permit Expediter? Definition and Benefits

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 5, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The construction of any building requires various expertise and resources. To make sure construction projects save time and money, permit expediters help their clients navigate the approval process from start to finish. If you're interested in understanding the value of permit expediters, you can benefit from reviewing exactly how they streamline construction processes and costs. In this article, we review what a permit expediter is, the benefits of working with one and what to look for when hiring a permit expediter for your building project.

Related: What Is Construction Project Management?

What is a permit expediter?

Permit expediters are experts in the administrative and legal procedures involved in construction. They thoroughly understand the building codes, zoning requirements and permitting processes of the cities and states in which they work. Project owners invest in permit expediters to avoid costly delays resulting from incorrect paperwork, filing or construction. Permit expediters gain their experience from overseeing many different building projects throughout their careers. This experience enables them to get approvals quickly for every step of construction, from drawing plans to installing electrical systems and plumbing.

Benefits of hiring a permit expediter

Permit expediters help clients develop plans, meet deadlines and follow regulations. Here are some of the specific benefits they provide:

Accurate timelines

When budgeting a construction project, whether a skyscraper or a single-family home, accurate timelines are a key factor in estimating cost. To save capital, clients usually try to complete projects as soon as possible, because the more time they spend building, the more money they spend on labor and overhead. Buildings also can't provide their intended value until construction is complete. However, it's important that timelines aren't too fast, as unrealistic expectations can distort cost estimates.

Permit expediters provide clients with a reliable understanding of how long a project should take and how much it might cost. They review the timelines that architects and project managers develop and correct them as necessary. Once a reasonable timeline is in place, the permit expediter follows it as closely as possible.

Related: Construction Management: Functions and Phases

Industry knowledge

Often, project owners plan to build in a different city, state or country. Instead of having to learn local building codes, project owners can hire knowledgeable permit expediters. Permit expediters develop strong relationships with their city officials, which can benefit clients during meetings to review plans and receive approvals. They are also administrative experts who know the correct way to complete and submit forms.

Compliance

Local councils create different building codes and permit procedures, meaning every city has different rules to follow. Governments also routinely add or adjust laws affecting construction. Projects can avoid fines and delays by remaining compliant throughout the building process. Permit expediters make this possible by staying up to date with any code changes and making sure clients account for them.

Sometimes officials put building codes in place to preserve a town's appearance or resources, such as street parking. Usually, though, governments use building codes to protect people from harm. Here are some important considerations permit expediters help clients understand and implement:

  • Fire code: Fire code compliance reduces the damage a fire can do to a building, the people inside it and the surrounding area.

  • Energy efficiency: Energy efficiency codes help the environment and reduce heating and cooling costs.

  • Materials: These codes make sure buildings use safe and reliable materials that can withstand stresses and that won't harm people.

  • Natural disaster preparedness: Different regions have to account for different disasters. For instance, some codes make sure that structures near coasts can withstand floods and that buildings along fault lines can withstand earthquakes.

  • Waste removal: Proper waste removal is critical for the health of the environment and the building's residents.

  • Accessibility: Certain regulations make sure all people, regardless of ability, can access buildings.

Related: How To Get a Compliance Job

Profitability

For some companies, such as architecture firms, permit expediters are an efficient way to reduce costs. If a firm requires an expert on local building codes or for land use planning, instead of paying an employee a full salary, it can contract a permit expediter. Since the firm hires the permit expediter for a client's specific project, it can pass the cost onto the client.

What to look for in a permit expediter

Here are some important considerations for hiring a permit expediter:

Local experience

One of the most important questions to ask a permit expediter is if they've worked extensively in the city and state where you're building your project. You are paying for expertise with the codes that apply directly to your project and for familiarity with the local officials that enforce them, so a permit expediter with specific local knowledge is crucial to streamlining processes.

Project familiarity

Different building projects follow particular requirements. For instance, a commercial development involves different building codes and zoning regulations than a residence renovation. Permit expediters might specialize or have most of their experience working on a certain type of project. Make sure the permit expediter you hire has done several projects similar to yours and knows the applicable codes.

Related: Construction Project Manager Resume Samples

Credentials

There aren't specific certifications required to become a permit expediter, but some members of the field receive certificates in areas such as construction management, real estate development or urban planning. Permit expediters with academic training in design, accounting or business management may also bring additional skills to their work that can benefit you as their client.

Fee structure and quoting

It's important to understand how your permit expediter bills you, either by the hour or with a fee for the entire project. Since quality permit expediters can save you substantial time and money, consider how much value you place on their services. What you pay them affects the total cost of your project.

Many permit expediters prepare a general report detailing how long your project should take and what it should cost. If possible, begin negotiations with a permit expediter who is willing to help you make an informed decision in hiring them.

Client reviews

Ask any permit expediters you meet with to provide references. If possible, speak with their previous clients and confirm that they were helpful, knowledgeable and saved the clients time and money. This is also a good way of confirming a permit expediter has succeeded on projects like yours before.

Explore more articles