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Denver Approval Time For Building Permits Breaches 300 Days - Sustainable Design Build Denver Construction Company

Denver’s Community and Planning Department has been struggling with the large increase of plan submittals for building permits. Earlier this year, around January of 2022, the longest amount of time for building permit approval reached about 191 days. Specifically, these 191 days were reserved for Major Residential construction projects. This category of projects includes large remodels (over 1000 sqft), home additions, ADUs, and custom home construction. Builders, engineers, and other leaders in the construction industry for Denver are raising the flag that a new high in building permit approval times was reached recently. As of September 27th, 2022 Denver’s Time to Permit Approval has reached 301 days.

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The increased time for building permits costs homeowners more.

For homeowners, this long wait time can be costly especially if volatility in material prices continues on seen throughout this year; where lumber prices skyrocketed and other materials raised 15%+ in overall construction costs. In the past, large residential projects could be expected to start after signing an agreement with a general contractor in about 3-4 months. In that amount of time, the costs that were listed in the initial estimate would remain the same. But if a construction start date is dragged out over the course of 9 – 10 months, material costs can increase leaving the general contractors with no choice but to charge their clients the difference. Ultimately, this can force financial complications on families that might force them to drop the project entirely.

Denver Community and Planning Department Is Understaffed

In an article earlier this by the Denverite, “Denver’s planning department is backlogged and understaffed” and that “Like many departments in the city, it is struggling to hire new workers, counting some 48 vacancies.” To put it in perspective, that information was released in June of this year when the current wait times for permit approval of major residential projects were 4-8 weeks behind their target. It is unclear at this time, whether the problem is actively being addressed or if there is more downside to this issue.

What can homeowners do about building permits 

Unfortunately, homes that are seeking to remodel, build an addition or ADU, and so on will not have a lot of options to combat this problem. Only licensed contractors and builders will be able to submit for building permit approval. Therefore, potential homes will have to set healthy expectations about the building process and requirements. Beyond that, the next best thing is taking a steady and detailed approach to hiring the right construction company to handle their project. 

Homeowners are now going to have to come to terms with the idea of having their home remodel project starting a year from now. A considerable lead time has been added to the pre-construction process and homeowners will have to factor that into their costs and timeline. Having the right design-build or general contractor will also be the solution to this. Construction companies that hold a special interest in protecting their clients from unforeseen cost increases will be the best prepared for this challenge. Also, those companies who specialize in working in Denver only will have an edge against pushback from building permits approval. The ability to navigate through the nuances and barriers put up by Denver’s Community and Planning Department will be a key factor in making sure the project’s start date doesn’t drag out unnecessarily.

If you have been planning to begin a large home improvement project such as a home remodel, home addition, Accessory Dwelling Unit, or even a custom home; please reach out to Sustainable Design Build for more insight on where to start. SDB understands these challenges and believes they can factor design build expertise into guiding homeowners to the right solution whether it be SDB or another.

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