Operations Coordinator for Meritage Homes Kelli Tremblay used to go through three cases of paper every week to meet the requirements for in-person permit submittals at Orange County Government.

After the summer 2017 launch of the County’s Building Safety Department electronic plan submittal process, Tremblay describes her paper waste as nominal – and her time saving is substantial.

“So far, Meritage Homes has submitted 76 electronic plans and we have already had one approved in just 12 days,” Tremblay said. “The online permitting process has significantly cut the time it takes to obtain a permit by 50 percent. We are so happy that the County is expanding their services because we handle about 650 permits per year in Orange County alone.”

Orange County Building Safety Manager Alan Plante says that most licensed contractors submitting electronic plans for residential single-family permits will see their time reduced by at least one third for permitting approvals, with current approvals  times ranging from 21 to 24 days.

Plante credits Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ trailblazing efforts in spearheading  the use of this new time-saving and streamlining initiative. In 2012, Mayor Jacobs sought to enhance customer service and transparency in development permitting by establishing a central permitting destination. The launch of “One-Stop Permitting” at Orange County provided permit applicants one central location to submit applications, ask questions and receive results on a limited number of development applications.

“Orange County had more than 3,500 new homes permitted last year – a number that catapulted our 2016 building permit valuations to $2.5 billion dollars – that’s a 31 percent increase over the previous year,” Mayor Jacobs said. “In response to a strengthening construction industry and the need for permits, an electronic plan submittal makes great sense. It helps our citizens and customers save time, which in turn helps them save money. Electronic plan submittal is a wonderful complement to our existing ‘one-stop permitting’, and represents a great step forward in customer service.”

Meritage Homes, M/I Homes and Lennar Homes offered to assist in the rollout and launch by being the test group to submit online and provide feedback. That way, the County was able to address some of the issues and work on increased efficiency.

One of several of e-submittal advantages is that contractors who submit their plans electronically will not have to bear the time or cost of having them printed for submittal.

Additionally, contractors will receive status reports electronically regarding their submittal throughout the approval process. Also, each division, including Public Works, Utilities, Health Department and Engineering, now works on plan submittals simultaneously rather than separately.

“We received excellent feedback from our test group. They shared that the County’s electronic submittal process is one of the best they’ve worked with,” Plante said. “We look forward to expanding our services for e-plan submittals to include online application requests and permit issuance for all residential and commercial permits in spring 2018.”

Contractors who participate in the e-plan submittals must be a registered FastTrack user and must have attended one of the Division’s Electronic Plans Submittal Training sessions. For more information, visit www.ocfl.net/FastTrack.

The next schedules training session is Aug. 29, 2017 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Greater Orlando Builders Association, 1953 Clayton Heritage Way in Maitland.

For more information, contact the Division of Building Safety at planscoordination@ocfl.net.

Photo Caption:  Building Safety officials thank contractor test groups at a recent information session to launch the electronic plan submittals. [L- R]  Owner of Permits Permits Permits Daphne Clark; Division of Building Safety Administrator Aneta Duhigg; Division of Building Safety Manager Alan Plante; Steve Johnson, Production Manager and Kelly Tremblay, Operations Coordinator for Meritage Homes.

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