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Florida Electronic Permit & Inspection Laws 2021: House Bills 667 & 1059

By GovPilot
 

There’s no doubt about it. A lot is happening in Florida. No matter where you are within the borders of the state, chances are that the population is growing and the rate of construction is increasing. 

With all of the commercial and residential properties being developed across Florida, the state government made a decision to pass laws requiring municipal governments to move permitting and inspection processes for construction to a digital format. With these policies, the state hopes to improve the regulatory and approval process. 

But what will these electronic permit and inspection laws mean for your municipality? And how can your local government make the switch online? Follow along for everything you need to know. 

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What Permit and Inspection Laws Did Florida Pass in 2021?

In 2021, the state of Florida passed two new laws related to moving construction permit and inspection processes fully online, House Bill 667 and House Bill 1059. In passing these laws, the state legislature hopes to improve the efficiency of government building inspections and approving permit applications. 

What is House Bill 667?

House Bill 667 is Florida’s latest building inspection bill which became effective July 2021. Within the text of the bill, the state requires that Florida municipal governments have a means for constituents to request inspections online. Additionally, new policies add deadlines for the amount of time a municipality has to conduct an inspection upon a building inspection request.

What is House Bill 1059?

House Bill 1059 is a bill directly focused on expediting the amount of time it takes municipal governments to approve or deny construction permit or license requests. The text of the bill requires local governments to provide access to relevant permitting documentation from their websites, encourages municipalities to offer electronic permit applications, and forces governments to lower permitting fees if they fail to respond to a permit application within 30 days. The bill took effect on October 1, 2021. 

Why Did the Florida Government Pass House Bill 667?

With Florida’s extensive statutes related to Florida Building Code and the clear necessity for more efficient inspection processes as evidenced by the tragic Surfside condo collapse in Miami, moving the inspection process to a digital format was a wise move by the Sunshine state's government. 

By going digital, government workers can accomplish the application review in an efficient, automated fashion, saving time and money for the municipality and helping constituents pass their inspections more quickly. This will further enable economic development and growth across Florida. 

What Are The Important Policies in the Text of House Bill 667?

Here are the main takeaways from the bill text of House Bill 667:

1. Local governments must allow people & businesses to request inspections online

The text of the bill states that, “A county that issues building permits must allow requests for inspections to be submitted electronically to the county building department. Acceptable methods of electronic submission include, but are not limited to, e-mail or fill-in form available on the website of the building department or through a third-party submission management software or application that can be downloaded on a mobile device.”

With modern government management software, local governments can make inspection requests available online via their website, so that constituents can conveniently apply in a fully digital format for an inspection, entering all necessary information so that it is electronically transmitted to relevant government officials, thereby eliminating redundant, manual work to be done by government officials once received. Leveraging robotic process automation, the inspection software will automatically assign inspectors to jobs, and will provide them with all of the necessary permit documents in a digital format, thereby eliminating paper. Local governments can leverage cloud-based electronic inspection software like GovInspect to conduct on-site inspections in a fully digital format on a mobile device such as a tablet.

2. Local building code inspectors must give their seal of approval before inspection agencies can approve permit applications

With many local governments outsourcing inspections to third-party agencies, the text of the bill requires that, “an enforcing agency may not issue any permit for construction, erection, alteration, modification, repair, or demolition of any building or structure until the local building code administrator or inspector has reviewed the plans and specifications required by the Florida Building Code, or local amendment thereto, for such proposal and found the plans to be in compliance with the Florida Building Code.”

With ADA compliance and hurricane / flooding mitigation at top of mind, it is clear that the state wants all construction, new or old, to meet the modern building standards laid out in the Florida Building Code. 

3. In some instances, virtual building inspections are allowed

The text of the bill states that, “A state or local enforcement agency may perform virtual inspections at the discretion of the enforcement agency. However, a state or local enforcement agency may not perform virtual inspections for structural inspections on a threshold building.”

Online inspections can streamline efficiency and allow inspectors to assess buildings without being physically on-site, allowing municipal workers to keep the ball rolling from anywhere. 

4. Municipal governments will need to approve or deny permits with a hard deadline or be forced to reduce their application fee. 

The text of the bill requires municipal governments to reduce the amount of time it takes to review a permit application. Additionally, if a permit application fails, the inspector is required to provide a reason why to the constituent within 10 days. That means if your municipality does takes a long time to file applications, you can anticipate a major reduction in public funds collected from fees.

In order to save time and charge full application fees, inspectors can leverage government management software to automatically receive relevant documentation when an electronic permit is filed online.   

What Are The Important Policies in the Text of House Bill 1059?

With the recent passage of Bill 1059, here are the important changes to permit application processes for Florida municipal governments:

1. Municipalities will need to house all construction permit applications on their websites

Local governments will need to make all local building permits and license applications accessible from their government website, and must also provide constituents with a status of where their permit application is in the approval process. All relevant documentation must be submitted electronically to relevant parties and departments needed to review the permits (unless a constituent would like to submit it in person.)

With government management software, all relevant permits can be submitted online via an easy-to-navigate platform. The cloud-based system will then automatically pass the documentation along to relevant parties and update constituents on the status of their applications.  

2. Local governments will need to meet deadlines upon the submission of permit applications

The Florida state government has an objective of improving on the slow application approval process that occurs in many municipalities. With the continued growth of Florida’s population in its largest cities, secondary cities, and suburban neighborhoods, the state wants to ensure that commercial and residential development can occur as quickly as possible. 

As a result, the following deadlines will need to be met by your local government regarding permit approvals (unless your ordinance has different timeframes in place) to avoid monetary penalties:

  1. A building permit for a single-family home must be issued within 30 business days of submission of the application,” unless the permit application fails to satisfy 178 the Florida Building Code or the enforcing agency's laws or 179 ordinances.” 

  2. If your local government requests additional documentation / information after a permit is initially filed, you’ll have to ,”review the application for completeness and issue a letter indicating that all required information has been submitted or specify with particularity any areas that are deficient within days after receiving the additional information.”

  3. If the municipality requests documents or information a second time, they will once again have to review the application and confirm that it was received within 30 days of receiving the latest information. 

  4. Upon a third request for relevant building information, the municipal representative will need to approve or deny the permit request within 10 days of receiving the relevant documents.  

  5. Applicants that fail have 10 days to submit revisions to a failed permit application. If the applicant meets the deadline, the municipality will need to approve or deny the permit within 10 business days.

Failure to hit the specified deadline for a permit issuance, municipal governments will have to reduce their permit application fee by 10 % for each business day that goes by without the permit being issued. 

How Government Software Can Help Your Municipality Transition Online

Fortunately, local government software that you can leverage American Rescue Plan funds to pay for wields the power to digitize and automate the entirety of the building approval process. 

With GovPilot's GovInspect software, inspectors will be assigned building inspections regularly, and can record the entirety of the inspection via software that will store everything in the cloud. This will eliminate the need for clip boards, paper-based processes, and the need to drive back to the office to manually re-enter into a computer program, data already collected on paper. This can save hundreds of hours per week for inspection departments, just as it did has for GovPilot customer, Trenton, New Jersey

With online permitting software, government workers can access all relevant documentation for any kind of permit, including building permits related to roofing, plumbing, HVAC, etc. and be able to view non-construction records and applications for related properties such as pet licenses, business registrations, or historic code enforcement violations

To learn more about how government management software can help your municipality or county go digital, book a consultation. 

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Florida Construction Permit & License Laws FAQs

1. What is Florida House Bill 667?

Since hitting its effective date in July 2021, House Bill 667 is the latest piece of legislation regarding construction inspection processes in the state of Florida. In accordance with Bill 667, Florida municipalities will need to allow constituents to apply for inspections via their government website.

The overall goal of the bill (and its companion bill, House Bill 1059) is to help local municipalities make a digital transformation that will make their inspections more efficient and less time consuming.

2. What is Florida House Bill 1059?

Florida House Bill 1059 was approved by Governor Ron DeSantis a took effect in October 2021, and requires local administration officials to allow for online permitting application processes for all construction related projects in the state of Florida. Additionally, the bill includes hard deadlines that municipalities must hit regarding application approval / denial and issuance (unless there are circumstances in which the applicant agrees to a later date OR the local ordinance has differing deadline policies.) 

3. Why Should Communities Encourage Online Permitting?

Local governments can save thousands of hours and dollars a year by automating permitting processes. Via digital permit software, applications are automatically stored in the cloud and are accessible to all relevant municipal workers and inspection enforcement agencies. 

The policies are better for property owners too. Applicants can submit documents easily and at any time from the comfort of their home, can expect quicker turnaround times to get permits approved, and can see the status of their application from the government website. 

4. Why Should Communities Encourage Inspection Software?

Construction is rampant across Florida, and the pressure is on for higher inspection standards after the sudden condo collapse in Florida in 2021. With online inspection software, municipalities can automate the assignment of inspections to building department employees, inspectors can take notes and approve or deny inspections directly from their phone, and everyone wins with time-saved during the inspection process.  

For more helpful info for your municipality, read on: 

Tags: Government Efficiency, Constituent Experience, Digital Transformation, Blog, GovInspect App