Advice from One Building Department to Another
District of Sechelt, British ColumbiaSeptember 28, 2022
Learn from the District of Sechelt’s Chief Building Official and Building Official on how they selected Cloudpermit, key learnings, and advice for other departments deciding when they should move their building permit process online.
Many local governments know they want to move their building permit process online, but some are hesitant to do so. It can be intimidating to take the digital leap.
How It All Started
“When I joined the District of Sechelt, they were already looking for an online building permitting system,” shared James Nyhus, Chief Building Official for Sechelt. “We wanted to find a solution where applicants could apply for Building Permits, submit all required drawings and documents, and pay for their fees online.”
Sechelt’s Building Department noted that the Building Officials’ Association of B.C. (BOABC) has a partnership with Cloudpermit. From there, they reached out to a local government that was using Cloudpermit already and learned of their positive experience with the system. After further research, Sechelt decided on Cloudpermit and went live with the software in March.
Nyhus, and Cam Landry, one of Sechelt’s building officials, shared key benefits of using Cloudpermit for their staff, builders, and residents:
- Building departments only receive complete building permit applications
- Front counter staff save valuable time on filing, piecing together information, scheduling, and communicating with applicants for missing information
- Staff can configure workspaces to meet their needs
- Integrations with other systems (Bluebeam) allow for the immediate exchange of information
- Departments get time back in their day with the added convenience of no paper (no time spent photocopying, writing notes once in the field and once at the office, etc.)
- Governments receive an unlimited user license and can have as many users as they need or want using the software
- Cloudpermit’s team is helpful and offers great customer service
For other members of the building community:
- Large developers and construction companies can apply for multiple permits from their offices without needing to print plans
- Contractors automatically receive building inspection updates on their properties
- Contractors, engineers, or other members of the building community can easily be invited to join a project online
- Applicants can make online payments and staff can accept them
- Building permit applications can be submitted online without any travel
- Inspections can be scheduled online
Words of Wisdom for Other Local Governments
When asked if Nyhus or Landry had any advice to share with local governments looking to digitalize, they both had words of wisdom to impart.
“Do not be hesitant to store your records in the cloud and use the great people you have to try something new,” assured Nyhus. “You can easily move information organized in Cloudpermit into your municipal storage systems. Your users will love not having to travel to an engineer to pick up plans, or to City Hall to drop off information, especially if they find out something is missing from their application, and they must make the trip again. By using cloud-based software, everything can be run from your office chair for exponential time and labour savings for everyone involved.”
Landry also agreed that using cloud-based software is valuable for an efficient and simple building permit process. He added that you could gain a lot of time back in your day if you invest more at the beginning.
“It’s important to allocate time to transition to a new system and tailor your processes to fit a new way of working,” Landry explained. “You need to make sure any system is configured to adhere to your by-laws and code as it is different going from working with paper forms to using an online system that requires a few clicks. Though it does take effort and time to set up the software and transfer information from one system to another, it truly pays off in the end with substantial timesaving in your day-to-day processes.”