As Building Booms, So Do Delays

By Frank Fortino

2015 is off to a fast start. The surge of filings at the end of 2014, before the changeover to the new Code, compounded with strong economic fundamentals across the board have created an incredibly strong environment for our industry. Yet one constant amidst this growth is the backlog at the DOB’s review and approval HUB.

The DOB and the HUB have been simply overwhelmed by the construction demand. As consultants, we try to streamline their process and at the same time help our projects move quickly through their system. We strive to minimize the types of objections raised when filing our new buildings, major renovations and even our interior renovations. As consultants, it is our job to review all architectural and engineering drawings thoroughly and provide the proper information on the plans such as procedural or technical information. We do this before hand, so the DOB team does not have to spend time on incomplete projects, and reject plans based on the obvious.

We’re now several years into this construction boom, and as an industry we are getting better at anticipating the flow of work pushing through the system.  So it’s surprising to see that year over year, the same backlog is not going away. In fact, the latest rush of multiple filings submitted prior to the year’s end is causing an even larger backlog. It’s surprising to see that massive and small scale projects alike have their schedules subject to a review process that is quite honestly short handed.

Our clients ask us the same question we ask ourselves – Why does an agency like the DOB, which raises millions of dollars per year,  not have enough qualified examiners, inspectors and administration staff?  Based on the scale and scope of development, the DOB and thus the entire industry are being hurt by the slow rate at which approvals and permits are being issued.

Mr. Mayor – we need you to step in, and allow Commissioner Chandler the ability to address this overload head on. The DOB is one of the most vital engines of our City. Let’s let it run at full speed.