Electronic building permitting is crucial for the city and contractors

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An electronic permitting system and other changes to the permitting process within the city of Pittsburgh’s Bureau of Building Inspection cannot come soon enough for the region’s multitude of contractors who compete for construction projects in the city (“Still Waiting for the Software: Pittsburgh’s Bureau of Building Inspection Operates on Pen, Paper,” July 21).

For the past six years, the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania, which is composed of the area’s 17 building trade unions and numerous contractor associations, has been proposing and patiently awaiting changes to procedures in a city department that is critical to the continued development of Pittsburgh.

From allowing the use of credit cards for the purchase of building and occupancy permits to increasing the number of inspectors or allowing third-party reviewers, there are a number of improvements that can be made to improve the overall permitting and inspection process.

To Mayor Bill Peduto’s credit, new bureau chief Maura Kennedy has implemented more changes in the first four months of her service than had seemingly been accomplished over the past six years, and we are optimistic about the bureau’s future given her experience and expressed interest in listening to city customers. Much will depend, however, on clear lines of communication and authority among city departments and agencies, including the planning and fire departments, water and sewer authority and others.

Oversight of building permitting and construction is appropriate, but permits must be issued in a timely manner, certainly much faster than the current practice that typically takes eight weeks or more. Time is money for contractors, developers and ultimately taxpayers who benefit from building construction and development.

Executive Director
Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania Inc.

First Published July 24, 2014 8:00 PM

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