- Plan Review
- Permit Issuance
- Changes in the Work
- Final Inspections
Whether you are erecting a fence, constructing an addition, or building a 10 story office building, the overall permit process is essentially the same. It starts with an application and the review of the documents detailing the project for general code compliance. When the fees are paid the permit is then issued. The work is inspected along the way and/or at the end when it is completed. In many cases, a certificate is issued when the project is completed.
In late 2020, Worthington implemented a new online portal to help you apply online, see the status of your project, upload documents, download approved documents, and even schedule most inspections. The portal is provided by Tyler Technologies, the application is called EnerGov, and your entry into that portal is called Customer Self Service (we affectionately refer to it as CSS). You can visit it at https://worthington.org/css 24/7 and even pay the fees through the portal. In the portal, you will be asked to create an account, and all of your projects can be managed from the dashboard.
So lets review the steps within the overall process.
A property owner or authorized agent applies to the City for a permit, with what the code generically calls construction documents, detailing the work, or providing information on how an existing building will be occupied. Permit fees are due after the documents have been reviewed. For simple projects like placing a shed, or erecting a fence, a site plan showing where on the property the structure is proposed, along with information on how the fence will be constructed, accompanies the application. Sometimes, the site plan available from the Franklin County Recorder’s Geographic Information System (GIS) may work for your project and can be found here: Franklin County Auditor. Sometimes the Worthington GIS provide better information here: City of Worthington GIS. Sometimes a survey provided with closing documents are available that is even more accurate.
Other simple projects, which may include equipment replacements like furnaces, water heaters, electrical service panels, and air conditioners, can be adequately described in the application description. More information including manufacturer’s literature may be needed for window, door, roofing, and siding replacement projects, and some commercial equipment changes. If more information is needed, the plans examiner will typically reach out to the applicant. More complicated projects including alterations, additions, and new buildings will need complete construction documents showing compliance with Ohio’s two building codes.
A City plans examiner reviews the construction documents to verify compliance with zoning and building codes. Special approvals administered by the Division of Planning may be required, such as a variance by the Board of Zoning Appeals, a Certificate of Appropriateness by the Architectural Review Board, or a Conditional Use Permit by the Municipal Planning Commission. If additional approvals are required, someone will communicate that to you but it could delay the issuance of the permit if the additional approvals were not secured prior to permit application.
Larger, more complicated projects may not have 100% complete construction documents at the time of application, or portions of the design are being deferred to a subcontractor to complete. Heating and electrical deferred submittal are common for residential projects. Truss design drawings sealed by an Ohio registered architect or engineer are another very common deferred submittals. And fire alarm and fire suppression documents are more typically deferred for commercial projects.
In the case where walls and ceilings need to be removed prior to completing the final design, approval for selective demolition can be granted with later submission of the construction documents. Starting work before an application is received can be subject to penalty fees in the building codes.
Fortunately, both state building codes take this into account in the form of a Phased Approval, The plans examiner will typically prepare a document called a List of Items which accompanies the Certificate of Plan Approval and the partially approved construction documents. Work is not to proceed beyond the approval and inspectors should not approve the work without approved documents on site. So if you have a phased approval, please submit the missing information as soon as you can to keep your project on schedule.
Compliance with the codes is an owner responsibility and the plan examiners can assist the designer with possible solutions to challenges, but cannot offer design advice and cannot be part of the design team on any project. Keep in mind, the building codes require that all projects be reviewed in the order received so that a person cannot receive special treatment. The code allows you to contact the people ahead of you in the plan review queue for permission to jump ahead of them, but that approval must be submitted in writing from that person.
Sometimes the plans examiner will reach out to the applicant for more information. The state building codes requires the building official or approve or deny the application within 30 days of receipt. In rare cases, the building official will issue an adjudication order, also known as a correction letter, within that 30 days to comply with the state requirement. This means you have an additional 6 months to submit the missing information before the application expires.
Upon completion of the review of the construction documents, CSS will typically send an invoice indicating the plan review is complete and advise the amount of the permit fees due. These fees can be paid in the portal (https://worthington.org/css). Once plans are approved and the fees have been received, a permit is issued by the City. CSS will send you an e-mail and remind you to print the approved documents, the inspection card, the certificate of plan approval, the list of items, and provide a link to the instructions for scheduling inspections. Those documents need to be on the jobsite for the inspectors.
As the work is being executed per the approved documents, and the work is ready for inspection, the owner or authorized requests City inspectors to inspect the work prior to it being covered following the instructions for scheduling inspections. On the inspection card, these may appear as rough or final inspections or may be very specific to a system. Generally, footings are first, foundations or their reinforcement are next, and then the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing rough inspections are next. When those items are approved, then the under slab, floor framing, wall framing, and roof framing inspections are typically conducted next. Roof sheathing/underlayment and wall bracing are many times requested at the time of the framing inspections. During the framing inspections, draft stopping, firestopping, and air infiltration are also reviewed. Typically, insulation inspections follow and after that, the project is into finishes. Final inspections can then start to be requested as those systems are completed. When all of the work is completed and ready for inspection, the final building and/or zoning inspection can be requested. View more information about scheduling inspections.
Inspector's authority is limited to approving that work shown on the approved construction documents and cannot typically approve major deviations from the approved construction documents. They may be able to provide possible solutions to challenges encountered by owners but ultimately the owner has to decide how best to proceed. In some cases, revised construction documents need to be submitted to match the work in the field.
As the work is being conducted, there are many reasons why the work has to deviate from the approved construction documents. To ensure the work continues to be conducted in compliance with the code, changes are processed in a similar manner as the initial permit. City inspectors cannot normally approve changes in the field without approved plans showing those changes. Similarly, phased or conditional approvals that require documents be submitted, especially deferred submittals, are also processed in a similar fashion. These revisions or deferred submittals are processed in the same order as they are received with the rest of the permit applications.
When all covered work has been inspected and approved and all of the work has been completed, final inspections are conducted. After the final inspection, a Certificate of Occupancy, Certificate of Completion, and/or a Certificate of Compliance is issued by the building official. Due to the high volume of permit activity, to receive this document, please e-mail the completed inspection card to the address at the bottom of the inspection card. Most certificates are not automatically generated unless requested. There are some exceptions - no certificate is issued for fences not over 6' in height and most sign permits especially face replacements. If in doubt, look at the permit summary in CSS to see if a document will be created upon request.