Denver's city auditor says slow permitting process costs homeowners time, money

Jake

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2023
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The permitting process in Denver has become a rather slow one, as homeowners have been waiting for quite a while for their permits to get approved. The main issue stems from permit reviews, as homeowners are reporting that the review process is taking too long. It's resulting in homeowners losing money as some are forced to pay rent and bills while waiting for the review to go through. One homeowner reported a $24,000 loss as they were forced to have extended payments on rent and mortgage during the review time. Instead they decided to risk it and do the projected work unpermitted.

Covid-19 may be a big factor, as a rise in permits were filed during and after the Covid pandemic. An audit revealed In 2022 alone, 76% of permits were not reviewed, and that rose to 81% in April of 2023. The same audit also showed that 10 out of 55 people indicated that city staff made errors with their reviews, and that also resulted in increased costs for homeowners. Not only that, but there has been inconsistent data, and often inaccuracies in reviews and feedback.

The person behind the audit, Denver Auditor Timothy M. O'Brien, states the errors also stem from unclear instructions, and not having enough managerial oversight on the matter. It's costing homeowners money and delays for contractors.

In the audit were 20 recommendations to improve on things, this included better training, along with better management and handling of data, especially in the permit process.

Read more on this story from CBS News here.
 
Location
Denver, Colorado, United States

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Time for Denver to get things in order here. If it's costing citizens money to wait through this process, they need to implement a speedier rate of acceptance. 81% is not good. I hope Denver figures out some solution to where the review process for permits can move faster, but at a smooth rate. It shouldn't take this long ever.
 
If this is how Denver's building department is going to operate, it seems like they might as well just not have a permitting program at all. According to the auditor, "delays in reviewing project plans could create future safety issues for homeowners while negatively impacting housing affordability by increasing the cost of home construction and repair projects." So safety is going down and housing prices are going up as a result bureaucratic dysfunction...it's of course critical that we have strong building codes, but if you're going to require that everything be reviewed/approved by a government agency - as we usually do to ensure building code compliance - then you really need to make sure that agency is helping, not hurting, the process. I'll admit I'm probably being a bit extreme here but at some point the costs have to outweigh the benefits, right?

At the end of the day, though, it's great that Denver completed the audit and that the audit got the press it did. Hopefully we see some real change at Denver's building department as a result of this dialogue.
 
If this is how Denver's building department is going to operate, it seems like they might as well just not have a permitting program at all. According to the auditor, "delays in reviewing project plans could create future safety issues for homeowners while negatively impacting housing affordability by increasing the cost of home construction and repair projects." So safety is going down and housing prices are going up as a result bureaucratic dysfunction...it's of course critical that we have strong building codes, but if you're going to require that everything be reviewed/approved by a government agency - as we usually do to ensure building code compliance - then you really need to make sure that agency is helping, not hurting, the process. I'll admit I'm probably being a bit extreme here but at some point the costs have to outweigh the benefits, right?

At the end of the day, though, it's great that Denver completed the audit and that the audit got the press it did. Hopefully we see some real change at Denver's building department as a result of this dialogue.
They really need to just restructure, or rebuild the system. Somehow streamline it or something, or hire more people to actually review the permits that are piled up for review already. At the rate they're going, it's going to result in more of a backlog, and it will continue to get worse.

And I agree, the audit certainly helps. I hope they enact some real change, it needs to happen asap.
 
The slow permitting process certainly increases the construction bills for home owners. If the auditor has identified slow permitting process as an issue, I think the officials also need to be serious on this issue. They should make changes to the permitting processes to address the problems faced b the home owners.
 
The system shouldn't be slow as this will keep the citizens waiting longer than they already should be. It doesn't seem like this system is run properly as it should not be taking so long to approve a permit and cost the citizens so much money.
If they have identified the issue to the slow process, they should get this sorted ASAP as this is a serious issue.
 
There for sure needs to be an overhaul of the system if this is how citizens are being treated when using that system.

It seems even though they have identified the issue, they are still not willing to make changes which is a shame and I do hope they soon choose to change that.
 
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