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Navigating Modular Construction Permits

As we walk through the process of permits, all projects are not that same. As you are aware either are municipalities, state regulations or inspections. Please keep me in mind the details below are general practices and it's always advisable to check with your pre-construction team for the best advice on their process.

Demystifying the Permitting Process for Modular Projects

Modular construction is rapidly reshaping the architectural, engineering, and construction landscape. Yet, the mere thought of navigating the permitting process for these innovative projects can be intimidating. We decode the complexities of securing permits for modular builds, shedding light on the steps that distinguish modular permitting from traditional processes.

Breaking Down Modular Construction Permitting:

The permitting journey for modular projects mirrors the familiar path of traditional construction, albeit with a few distinct modules of its own. Whether you're orchestrating a residential marvel or a towering hotel franchise, the permitting steps remain largely consistent.

The Unique Steps in Modular Permitting:

The blueprint for modular permitting reveals additional layers that parallel traditional permitting. Collaborating with a specialized modular architect, engineer, manufacturer, and developer is paramount throughout these steps. Here's a concise rundown:

1. State Modular Submission:

- This vital step involves submitting comprehensive plans to the state authorities for approval. The state permit encompasses architecture, MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing), fire protection, fire alarm, and structural plan sets.

- Structural calculations for site connections, specifications, fire-rated assemblies, and penetrations form an integral part of this submission.

- States may adopt differing approaches, with some utilizing in-house entities, while others rely on approved third-party agencies for plan review.

- Crucially, the state permit exclusively pertains to the modular sections of the building. The local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) references this permit without asserting jurisdiction over modular plans.

2. Local Jurisdiction Submission:

- The local jurisdiction permit, issued by the city or local authority, encompasses all necessary construction requisites.

- A noteworthy feature here is the designation of multiple components as "factory-built," a categorization clearly indicated in the submission.

- The city initiates its review upon receiving the local submission. However, a complete permit is usually granted only upon receipt of the state-approved modular plans for the modular portion.

- This local permit governs the non-modular elements of the building and is essential for site work initiation and the placement of manufactured modules.

3. State Modular Inspections:

- Modular boxes undergo rigorous inspections and receive official stamps at the factory. After their arrival on-site, local inspectors relinquish their jurisdiction.

- Most states appoint overseeing authorities for modular portions, such as the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), which supervises inspections or engages approved third-party agencies.

4. Local Inspections:

- Local inspectors preside over on-site work and modular connections. Any necessary repairs conducted on-site prompt notification to state authorities for separate on-site inspections.

- It's imperative to note that fire-safety inspections in modular builds differ from those in traditional construction. An upcoming newsletter will exclusively delve into this topic.

Amid the innovation and transformation that modular construction brings, understanding the permitting intricacies is pivotal. By partnering with seasoned professionals who specialize in modular architecture, engineering, and manufacturing, you can navigate the modular permitting landscape with confidence. "It is very important in Offsite Construction, that a pre-construction team are all decided usually at schematic design or earlier. A successful project is based on starting with your plan, design, product, manufacturer and process at the very early stages of a project to then move to permitting. " said Audree Grubesic, consultant at Modular Sure Site. The journey to securing permits for modular projects has never been more accessible, ushering in a new era of architectural possibilities.


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