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NJ Electronic Construction Permit Law: What It Means for Local Governments

By GovPilot
 

In June 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Assembly Bill 1145 into law which will require local governments in the Garden state to leverage a digital platform for all construction related applications and permits. 

With the signing into law of the online “Electronic Permit Processing Review System” - P.L.2021, c.70 - municipalities and counties in New Jersey will need to adopt a digital platform in order to comply with upcoming Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) guidance.

Similar laws are pending elsewhere, including Florida.

While this is exciting news that will help NJ local governments save time and resources, this abrupt change may be an intimidating adjustment for some municipal officials and workers. Fortunately, making the switch to online construction permitting is not as difficult as it may seem and can actually improve collaboration between departments. Follow along to learn more about the electronic permitting bill and how your local government can easily make the switch to a digital permitting system. 

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What is Assembly Bill 1145?

Assembly Bill 1145, also known as the electronic permit bill, is legislation that was signed by NJ Governor Phil Murphy in June 2021. 

The text of the bill requires that local governments in the state use an “Electronic Permit Processing Review System,” for filing any NJ construction and building permit forms. It is meant to spur innovation and increase quality of service, saving state municipalities a substantial amount of time and effort in the filing process by mandating a 24/7 online permitting process that is more convenient for constituents. 

How Will the Electronic Permitting Bill Impact Your Local Government?

The text of the bill outlines the steps needed to be taken by local governments to make the switch to construction permitting software.

Here are some of the key takeaways from Assembly Bill 1145:

1. NJ State Government Has Mandated the “Electronic Permit Processing Review System”

The text of the bill notes that, “The Commissioner of Community Affairs shall establish, develop, implement, and administer the ‘Electronic Permit Processing Review System.’” Essentially, this means local governments throughout the state will need to move fully online with their construction permitting processes related to , ”submission of applications for construction permits, plans, and specifications.” This legislation also requires 24/7 access for constituents and businesses to file permit applications and schedule inspection requests.  

2. Local Government Leadership Will Need Access to Digitized Permits

After your municipal leadership implements a digitized process for filing construction permits, you’ll need to make sure that the right people have access to the documentation. Assembly Bill 1145 requires that , “the department… local enforcing agencies… and private agencies providing plan review and inspection services,” have electronic access to permits as well as relevant application materials. 

3. Private Agencies Reviewing Permits Will Need to Abide by Assembly 1145

If your municipal government regularly works with private review and inspection services, they will need to follow the rules and policies outlined in the ‘Electronic Permit Processing Review System.’” This policy change will need to be communicated by your municipal government and be factored into the bidding process for permit inspection agencies. 

How Can Your Local Government Make the Switch to Web Based Permitting?

Leveraging cloud-based government management software is your best bet for building departments looking to make the switch from paper permitting forms to a digitized format. 

Here are a few of the reasons that leveraging Construction Permitting software like GovPilot is the smartest approach to going digital and meeting the requirements of the new law:

Implementation is simple.

Change is oftentimes hard, but online permitting doesn’t have to be. By implementing GovPilot, your government website will be set up to leverage the software for online permitting. Getting used to using the platform won’t take long either, with inspectors in a South Orange, New Jersey Case Study noting that the GovInspect mobile app is universally loved, even among those inspectors who refer to themselves as, "computer illiterate". In South Orange, GovPilot's digital inspection app also saves the team of eight inspectors 80 hours of work per week! 

With GovPilot's public facing digital application, contractors and homeowners alike will be able to access online permits in no time at all, and submit them from the convenience of their home or office. 

Save time and money.

New Jersey's electronic construction permitting bill was passed with the goal of increasing local government innovation and efficiency in order to save municipalities time and money, and improve customer service. In Sea Girt, NJ, permit application software led to an 80% faster entry rate into government systems and a massive decline in phone calls / correspondence with confused constituents due to the simple construction application process online. That means government workers can spend their time on higher priority tasks with the time they’ll get back, saving your municipality money and improving your internal efficiency. 

With GovPilot's updated digital construction module, inspection scheduling will be straightforward and fees can easily be configured. 

Direct payment systems in place. 

Online payments are built into the GovPilot system, meaning you’ll be able to charge constituents directly from your government website whenever they file permits. With municipalities reporting significant increases in completed forms after switching to permitting software, online payments will also ensure that fees are paid instantly resulting in more dollars collected on time from permit filing. 

Streamline the building permit process.

The NJ government will require that departments, local enforcing agencies, and private permitting inspectors have electronic access to permits and related materials. GovPilot's government management software makes it easy to share documents with all relevant parties across departments. GovPilot's cloud-based unified platform enables seamless access to documents and records at the parcel level so that department staff can collaborate easily, eliminate communications bottlenecks and manual data entry, and process applications faster. 

Automated email updates keep builders and citizens up to date on the status of applications in real-time. 

Additional innovative local government software applications are also available.

With GovPilot, in addition to using the building and construction permitting software, you’ll also be able to opt in to other useful tools and digital services for your local government. These solutions include GIS mapping systems, report-a-concern software, and virtual business registration and can revolutionize departments across your municipality, improving civic engagement and quality of life in your neighborhoods. With GovPilot, data and records across all departments are unified and easily accessible 24/7 from anywhere. 

You'll also be able to utilize the permitting software for other relevant licenses and permits. The online permit software accommodates for zoning permits, parking permits in addition to building permits for  plumbing, fencing, electrical work, and more. GovPilot's mobile inspection app, GovInspect enables inspectors to eliminate paper processes and switch to a fully digital environment, saving them hours once dedicated to manual data entry. 

Visit GovPilot's Pricing Page to learn more about solutions available and cost to your local government. 

How Can Your Municipality Offset the Cost of Going Digital?

There are many ways to ensure that making the move to digitized building and construction permits won’t have a large impact on your community’s budget.

Hopefully, your municipality’s stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan have arrived. If not, they should be arriving soon. These funds are being sent to every municipality in the country and are meant to be used towards improving existing infrastructure. While this could be used towards physical infrastructure like disaster resilient buildings or paving roads, the funds can also be leveraged for improving and securing IT infrastructure. That means you’re eligible to spend your ARP funds on the permitting software without taking money out of existing budget.

The text of Assembly Bill 1145 also outlines details of how to alleviate the cost of transitioning to a digital, online environment. For the next 3 years, municipalities are eligible to charge a surcharge fee for construction permits. This fee is meant to reduce the overall cost of establishing the electronic permit processing review system. When selecting a digital construction permitting vendor, be sure that digital payment processing is enabled and capable of meeting your specific requirements. 

In Conclusion

The New Jersey construction permit process will improve exponentially state-wide by ensuring that electronic permitting systems provide a convenient digital experience, secure data and records keeping, and a streamlined processing. For the first time, many municipalities will be shifting away from paper permit applications, giving constituents and contractors the flexibility to file a permit application online with ease 24/7. 

Now, your government leadership needs to iron out the details of your electronic permit processing review system by picking a permitting software platform and training government workers to use it effectively. 

GovPilot recently launched an updated digital Construction Module which provides online applications, digital permitting, mobile tablet-based inspections, and scheduling. 

Many New Jersey municipalities currently utilize or will soon deploy GovPilot’s digital construction solutions including:

Atlantic City | Elizabeth | Linwood | Manasquan | Montgomery | Orange | South Orange | Trenton | Union

GovPilot will add any and all necessary capabilities as required by the DCA when guidance is issued. In the meantime, book a consultation to learn more about how GovPilot’s online building and construction permit software can transform your permitting processes.

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Assembly Bill 1145 FAQs

1. What is the NJ Construction Permit Bill?

The NJ electronic construction permit bill, officially known as Assembly Bill 1145, is a piece of legislation signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy in June 2021. The law will require local governments throughout the state to leverage digital permitting software for all construction permits and related materials.

2. Why did the NJ State Government Mandate Digital Permitting Software?

There are undoubtedly a lot of benefits to using online permitting software as an alternative to paper. For one, constituents can fill out permits via local government websites at any time throughout the day. Additionally, cloud-based software means that anyone involved with the permit approval process can access relevant documentation from their personal computers. Software also collects insightful data, meaning you’ll be able to notice trends and make governmental decisions with relevant information in mind. 

3. How Can My Municipality Pay for Construction Permitting Software?

Municipalities in most cases will not need to pull money out of their allocated budgets to make the switch to digital. The state government is allowing local governments to charge a surcharge for the following three years to recuperate funds spent acquiring government management software. Additionally, federal funds from the American Rescue Plan can be used towards IT infrastructure, meaning that you’ll be allowed to spend stimulus money on acquiring digitized permitting software as well as other government technologies.  

Sources

https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2020/Bills/A1500/1145_T1.HTM

https://scarincilawyer.com/nj-electronic-permitting-bill/

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