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Sustainable Design Build Denver Review Times building permit approval takes almost 200 days

It’s a shock to many homeowners and workers in residential construction here in Denver. The process for obtaining a Denver Building Permit takes almost 200 days to approve. This includes all the review times and expected communication with the city reviewers. The City and County of Denver quote, “In the last 30 days, the average duration of Major Residential Projects from the date submitted to date approved was 191 days. This includes the time it takes applicants to make plan revisions and time for city review.” 

Denver Building Permit Approval Is Almost 200 Days for Residential

A screenshot taken from the city of Denver’s website on Jan. 21, 2022.

Average Plan Review Times in Denver

Located on the City and County of Denver’s website, the Community Planning and Development Services have an insightful tool displaying the average plan review times to get a Denver Building Permit. The times for permit approval in Denver are in three categories: minor, intermediate, and major projects. The time to permit approval for each respecting category as of January 2022 are:

  • Major Residential Projects: 191 days
  • Intermediate Residential Projects: 95 days
  • Minor Residential Projects: 37 days

What are the types of residential projects?

As mentioned above, there are three types of residential projects requiring a Denver building permit, determined by the size and scope of the project. Naturally, the larger scope of projects will require more time to review and process, while the lesser ones should receive permit approval sooner. Each category is described within the City and County of Denver’s website as:

Minor Residential Construction

  • Minor interior/exterior remodels (alterations and repairs) that include:
    • Non-structural repairs
    • Interior remodels (alterations) that are less than 1,000 square feet in gross floor area and have minor structural work (e.g., new beams, removal of load-bearing walls, and new openings)
    • New doors, windows, skylights
    • Window or area wells
    • Minor structural work
    • Fire-rated projections
    • Non-structural, preparatory demolition permits (prep demo permits)
  • [uninhabitable] Accessory buildings and structures, site features, and landscaping that include:
    • Uninhabitable accessory structures or buildings, including storage and tool sheds, chicken and duck coops, and treehouses and playground equipment intended for children’s use
    • Driveways
    • Prefabricated, above-grade pools, spas, or hot tubs
    • Pergolas, trellises, and patio covers
    • First-story (ground-level) patios, porches, decks, and terraces
    • Other landscape and site features, including planters
    • Fences and retaining walls
    • A/C units, excluding A/C units requiring a zoning permit with informational notice (ZPIN)
  • Modified drawings where the modifications have a scope that falls into a category listed above

Intermediate Residential Construction

While there are no resources on the Community Planning and Development webpage for intermediate residential construction projects, SDB has confirmed that the following are likely to fall into that category:

  • Full Exterior remodeling
  • Full Interior Remodeling
  • Moving Utility Lines and Placement

Major Residential Construction

  • Additions 400 square feet or larger
  • ADUs [habitable finished space]
  • Custom Home Construction
  • Landmark Projects
  • Fire Remediation and Reconstruction
  • Underground water and sewer relocations/tie-ins

 

It is also important to note that city reviewers hold the discretion to determine if a project is minor, intermediate, or major depending on the complexity or lack of required information to review.

How long in total would a home addition or ADU take to get a Denver building permit?

While the timeframes listed by the Community Planning and Development department seem long, these do not factor in third-party involvement such as architectural drafting, structural drafting, civil engineering, and other city department reviews (Denver Water, ROW, SUDP). An additional 1 – 2 months is needed to complete plan drafting before the initial review. City reviewers are experiencing an extremely high volume of requests; in the last 30 days, a total of 107 initial reviews were received, while 187 resubmittal reviews were received. Each submittal has an expected timeline of:

  • Initial Review Time Average – 5.2 weeks
  • Resubmittal Review Time Average – 4.2 weeks
  • Any Additional Review Time Average – 4.2 weeks (an additional two on average)
  • Residential Zoning Review – 5.1 weeks

 

These timeframes roughly come out to a total of 191 days, but it is essential to remember that this does not include the conceptual steps involved with building an addition or ADU. There are still conceptual drawings and meetings that will move onto architectural, structural, and civil engineering plans. 

Prepare for your residential project.

With such long times for permit approval, one might understand the complexity and process required to approve more extensive residential construction.

Homeowners should not expect to navigate through this process by themselves. Hiring a reputable builder or contractor will be essential for their project. Beyond that, homeowners will also have to reach out to architects, surveyors, structural engineers, and even civil engineers. These trades are needed to get the proper documentation to Denver’s review team. Sustainable Design Build, a design-build firm, has the edge in this pre-construction process as they facilitate communication between these disciplines. Homeowners looking to build residential construction will find benefit working with companies that handle these processes along with construction. If you are interested in a home construction project, please visit our website to get an approximate timeframe or visit the city’s website.

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