Do you need a building permit from the City of Coral Gables? If so, you should know the City has been working hard to improve customer satisfaction and serve you better.
In the last couple of years, the Development Services Department has made significant enhancements to expedite the permitting process for both residential and commercial renovation and new construction projects. Certain permit fees have been reduced to encourage compliance, and in some instances permit fees have been waived. The new leadership and staff’s positive attitude truly reflect that in this department, “it’s all about customer service.”
For example, a new Mobile Permit Service provides assistance to residents who can’t come to City Hall. This program is dedicated to residents who may need special assistance in obtaining permits for minor home improvement projects, with a particular focus on seniors and residents with limited mobility. Residents can now contact a city representative to meet them at their home in order to obtain a permit.
If you're a Coral Gables resident or small business owner and have a question about any building services or how to maneuver the permitting process, the City’s Ombudsman Tony Silio will advocate for you. Tony has 28 years of experience in the Building Division and his focus is troubleshooting permit issues in the construction and public works areas.
New businesses opening in Downtown Coral Gables can also take advantage of the Permit Assistance Program. This new initiative gathers key players from the Development Services and Economic Development departments, the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, and the Business Improvement District (BID) to provide step-by-step guidance to new businesses and help them navigate through the permitting process.
For large construction projects, the City offers alternative plan reviews and inspections. Instead of waiting for the required in-house plan reviews, developers have the option to use outside structural peer reviewers or private providers approved by the Building Department that can expedite the review process. Opting to use these outside resources provides a 5% permit fee credit for structural peer reviews and a 30% permit fee credit for choosing to use a private provider. In addition, large projects don’t have to wait for a complete permit approval to proceed with construction. The City is now offering phased permitting that gives the green light − in an accelerated path − for the early stages of construction (demolition, foundation, etc.) thus preventing project delays.
The City also requires large projects to submit a construction staging plan prior to permit issuance. This strategy is intended to reduce the negative impact of construction activities on the surrounding neighborhood by reducing traffic, dust, noise and other health hazards. Starting on April 16, Coral Gables is limiting construction hours to weekdays, with certain exceptions on Saturdays along with tight restrictions on noise, and prohibiting all construction on Sundays and holidays.
Good news if you are doing a small home project that is less than $500 in value: the permit cost is just a flat fee of $25. This is a 90 percent reduction of the previous fee typically charged for this type of home renovation. The previous permit fees were a substantial financial burden considering the minor nature and costs of routine maintenance which was discouraging homeowners from seeking permits. In addition, the City has eliminated the following five zoning permits: awning repairs, chain link fence repairs, pool resurfacing, and single family and duplex residential flooring.
Certain permit fees have been waived to better serve our customers. City permit fees are being waived for businesses affected by the Miracle Mile and Giralda Avenue Streetscape Project. This applies to outdoor façade improvements as well as improvements to the sidewalk pavers within private property along storefronts. To encourage sustainable best practices among our residents, the City is waiving permit fees when homeowners are submitting applications to install solar panels.
The City is also waiving fees to senior homeowners who have received code citations for expired permits or for work done without a permit. This applies to any homesteaded property owner who is 65 years or older and has owned the residence continuously for the past five years. As part of the expansion of the city’s Victim Assistance Program, city permit fees are being waived for work to repair damage caused during a crime, such as broken windows and doors. These damages must be documented by the Police Department with a police case number.
As a result of all these positive changes, the City of Coral Gables has ramped up its efforts to educate the public about its residential and commercial planning, permits and inspections requirements. New informational brochures and online information is readily available at the city’s website: www.coralgables.com. The user friendly Development Services page includes real time information on plan review status, inspection schedules and results, permit fee estimates and real property data.
These improvements don’t stop here. City staff is evaluating new software to adopt a paperless ePermitting process that will allow customers to submit applications from the comforts of home or work, avoiding the need to make a trip to City Hall.
For additional information on how to obtain a permit or inspection from the City of Coral Gables, or to provide additional feedback on how we can improve our services, contact the Development Services Department at 305-460-5235. For Mobile Permit Service, contact Jorge Pino at 305-460-5272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For Building Records and Microfilm, contact Lynn Schwartz at 305-460-5262 or email@example.com.